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Democratic Party of Oregon GLBT Caucus

Biden – Palin Debate on Gay Marriage

Posted by Laura Calvo on October 7th, 2008

Conversations on the street about the exchange on relationship recognition at the VP debate between Biden and Palin have been mixed as to what exactly was said and what it means.

Below is the transcript of the entire exchange thanks to CNN and the video clip found on

FILL: The next round of — pardon me, the next round of questions starts with you, Sen. Biden. Do you support, as they do in Alaska, granting same-sex benefits to couples?

BIDEN: Absolutely. Do I support granting same-sex benefits? Absolutely positively. Look, in an Obama-Biden administration, there will be absolutely no distinction from a constitutional standpoint or a legal standpoint between a same-sex and a heterosexual couple.

The fact of the matter is that under the Constitution we should be granted — same-sex couples should be able to have visitation rights in the hospitals, joint ownership of property, life insurance policies, et cetera. That’s only fair.

It’s what the Constitution calls for. And so we do support it. We do support making sure that committed couples in a same-sex marriage are guaranteed the same constitutional benefits as it relates to their property rights, their rights of visitation, their rights to insurance, their rights of ownership as heterosexual couples do.

IFILL: Governor, would you support expanding that beyond Alaska to the rest of the nation?

PALIN: Well, not if it goes closer and closer towards redefining the traditional definition of marriage between one man and one woman. And unfortunately that’s sometimes where those steps lead.

But I also want to clarify, if there’s any kind of suggestion at all from my answer that I would be anything but tolerant of adults in America choosing their partners, choosing relationships that they deem best for themselves, you know, I am tolerant and I have a very diverse family and group of friends and even within that group you would see some who may not agree with me on this issue, some very dear friends who don’t agree with me on this issue.

But in that tolerance also, no one would ever propose, not in a McCain-Palin administration, to do anything to prohibit, say, visitations in a hospital or contracts being signed, negotiated between parties.

But I will tell Americans straight up that I don’t support defining marriage as anything but between one man and one woman, and I think through nuances we can go round and round about what that actually means.

But I’m being as straight up with Americans as I can in my non- support for anything but a traditional definition of marriage.

IFILL: Let’s try to avoid nuance, Senator. Do you support gay marriage?

BIDEN: No. Barack Obama nor I support redefining from a civil side what constitutes marriage. We do not support that. That is basically the decision to be able to be able to be left to faiths and people who practice their faiths the determination what you call it.

The bottom line though is, and I’m glad to hear the governor, I take her at her word, obviously, that she think there should be no civil rights distinction, none whatsoever, between a committed gay couple and a committed heterosexual couple. If that’s the case, we really don’t have a difference.

IFILL: Is that what your said?

PALIN: Your question to him was whether he supported gay marriage and my answer is the same as his and it is that I do not.

IFILL: Wonderful. You agree. On that note, let’s move to foreign policy.

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One Response to “Biden – Palin Debate on Gay Marriage”

  1. Laura Calvo Says:

    It seems that some were disappointed when Biden said, “No. Barack Obama nor I support redefining from a civil side what constitutes marriage. We do not support that. That is basically the decision to be able to be able to be left to faiths and people who practice their faiths the determination what you call it.”

    No GLBT person has ever said or demanded that the faith community ever be forced to define what they consider marriage within their faith. Marriage equality has always been about defining the equal but not separate legal rights and protections for ALL couples.

    The conservative religious community of the right has always been harping that marriage equality, anti discrimination, and all pro equality legislation takes away their right to preach as they see fit. Something which has always been a red herring argument.

    Palin’s sole purpose for being on the Republican ticket was to pander the religious right. James Dobson and Focus on the family did not support McCain until Palin was put on the ticket. Palin is not as tolerant as she tries to suggest in the debate. Palin’s long time association with her pray the gay away church, attempting to ban books from public libraries, and her attempt to veto Alaska’s same sex benefits for state employees all point to Palin’s commitment to the furtherance of denying equal rights to GLBT people.