Cockburn was pleased to see Joe Biden, the noted civil rights activist and former eighteen-wheeler driver who made it from the barrios of Wilmington to the White House, has finally opened up about his “epiphany” on same-sex marriage. It is a brave thing to do in 2023, but political consequences be damned! Biden was going to set the record straight, and explain to the American people that he has long been a fervent believer in the advancing the cause of gay rights.
In an interview on The Daily Show with former Obama staffer and Harold and Kumar star Kal Penn, Biden explained that he could “remember exactly where [his] epiphany was” on the question of marriage equality. He was a high-school senior, he explained. “I remember about to get out of the car and I look to my right and two well-dressed men in suits kissed each other,” said Biden. “And I’ll never forget it, I turned and looked at my dad and he said, ‘Joey, it’s simple. They love each other.” The president continued: “It’s just that simple, it doesn’t matter whether it’s same-sex or a heterosexual couple, you should be able to be married. So what is the problem?”
Great question, Joe! If you saw “no problem” in 1960, what happened in the intervening years? Why the 1996 vote as a senator in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as defined as between a man and a woman? And why, in 1994, the support for a measure that cut federal funding to any school that taught gay acceptance. And why, way back in 1974, when that beautiful kiss on the streets of Wilmington was a less distant memory, did you suggest wonder outloud whether homosexuals in the military posed a threat to national security?
Cockburn appreciates that Penn might not be Comedy Central’s hardest hitting interviewer (though he was great in Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle). And a comic actor-turned-Democratic staffer-turned-late-night-host isn’t someone Cockburn necessarily expects to subject Joe Biden to a tough grilling.
Nevertheless, Cockburn would have appreciated a follow-up question or two. After all, if Biden has been such a long-standing gay rights, why has he kept it so quiet? And what explains his voting record? Perhaps voting against the teachings of his Catholic faith played a role, as it did with his career-long anti-abortion votes. But Cockburn suspects that the most obvious answer is the correct one: the fibber-in-chief is at it again. And that Biden, like many Americans has been on a journey when it comes to gay rights and marriage equality. Rather than explain that journey, he has written a new chapter in the Biden origin story, one that comes shortly before the time he sacrificed his freedom in the fight for racial justice. Solidarity, brother.