After nearly single-handedly pushing gay marriage to the forefront of the U.S. presidential campaign and inadvertently pressuring President Barack Obama to declare his support for same-sex unions, there was only one thing left for Vice-President Joe Biden to do: apologize.
Biden’s apology came Wednesday in the Oval Office, shortly before the president sat for a hastily arranged interview in which he told the American people that he now supported gay marriage.
The vice-president expressed remorse and regret for declaring his support for same-sex unions ahead of Obama, said a person familiar with the exchange, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the private conversation. Obama accepted the apology, saying he knew Biden had only been speaking from the heart.
Biden’s apology followed days of frustration in the West Wing after the vice-president went off script, something he had done plenty of times. Without White House approval, Biden declared on a Sunday talk show that he was “absolutely comfortable” with same-sex married couples having the same rights as heterosexual married couples.
Usually Obama can swat away Biden’s free-wheeling ways. But not this time.
Biden’s remarks focused a fresh spotlight on what Obama had vaguely referred to as “evolving” views on gay marriage.
What few people outside of Obama’s inner circle of six or seven close aides knew at the time was that the president had, in fact, finished that evolution months earlier and was waiting for a suitable opportunity to inform the public of his views.