On the same day a new Gallup poll shows that fifty percent of Americans now think same sex marriages should be recognized by law a senior member of President Obama’s cabinet has added his name to the list.
In an interview with MSNBC on Monday Education Secretary Arne Duncan echoed comments made the day before by Vice President Joe Biden in support of same sex marriage. On MSNBC on Monday Duncan was asked if he believes same-sex couples should be able to legally marry and he responded: 'Yes, I do.'
Duncan's response follows Biden's own assertion at the weekend that he is 'absolutely comfortable' with same-sex married couples getting the same legal rights at heterosexual married couples.
Most media commentators have interpreted Biden's words as a clear endorsement of same sex marriage, but the White House has maneuvered to quieten any speculation by insisting the vice president's position on the issue is no different to the president's.
On NBC's 'Meet the Press' Biden said that marriage is a pledge of commitment to the person you love, whether that marriage is between a man and a woman, two men or two women.
According to the Daily Mail Biden made it clear during the course of the interview that he was drawing a distinction between his personal views and President Obama's role as administration policy maker. Obama is on record for opposing same sex marriage although he claims his views on the issue are 'evolving.'
Meanwhile the president's campaign strategist David Axelrod took to Twitter in an attempt to close any political gulf that had opened. 'What VP said – that all married couples should have exactly the same legal rights – is precisely the president's position,' Axelrod posted.
Some senior conservatives see an opportunity to draw a vote catching distinction between the president and the GOP on the marriage issue, but with polls showing that half the nation now supports same sex marriage it's clearly not the wedge issue it was in 2000 or even 2004.
Launching his re-election campaign trail in Ohio and Virginia on Monday, Obama reminded supporters of his record on gay rights, which include the lifting of the 'Don’t ask, Don’t tell' policy.
Some commentators haVE suggested that Biden's comments represent the White House sending up a trial balloon before Obama makes any move in a similar direction, but well know gay commentators like Andrew Sullivan says the presidents hands are tied:'All (he) can do is stop defending DOMA in federal courts, and, er, that's it.
The rest is for the Congress, to repeal DOMA, and let the federal government return to its long pre-1996 position of recognizing all marriages that are legal in any state, and applying full federal benefits to them. Can we please stop this absurd game of wanting presidential candidates or presidents to solve this problem? They cannot. It is not within their constitutional powers. And we do not need their approval. History will provide the judgment.'
In a statement to the press on Monday Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese said his group is encouraged by Biden's comments and that it's Is also time for Obama to speak out for 'full marriage equality' for same-sex couples.
Presumptive Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, opposes gay marriage. And signaling that a Romney administration could tilt further to the right on social issues that even George Bush's, Richard Grennell - the Bush-era staffer that Romney recently hired as his foreign policy spokesman - resigned abruptly last week after an anti-gay campaign waged against him by social conservatives. The Romney campaign at no time vouched for their hire or defended him from their attacks, leaving Grennell's position untenable critics claim.