What Did Teenage Joe Biden Learn from Seeing Two Men Kissing? Not Much If His Voting Record Is to Be Believed

Saturday March 18, 2023
Originally published on March 15, 2023

Joe Biden on "The Daily Show"
Joe Biden on "The Daily Show"  (Source:YouTube)

Why does Joe Biden forget his voting record on same-sex marriage? Time and again, the avuncular president misremembers his past, but no more egregiously than he does when dealing with same-sex marriage.

On "The Daily Show" this past Monday the president explained to host and former Obama administration staffer Kal Penn where his commitment to same-sex marriage came from.

"Penn — who is engaged to his longtime boyfriend — asks President Biden how he came to be a vocal supporter of marriage equality," reported People Magazine.

"I can remember exactly when my epiphany was," Biden responded. "I hadn't thought much about it, to tell you the truth. I was a senior in high school and my dad was dropping me off ... [I was] about to get out of the car and I look to my right, and two well-dressed men in suits kissed each other."

The president continues: "I turned and looked at my dad, and he said, 'Joey, it's simple, they love each other.' ... 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. What is the problem?"

But, as the Washington Post reports, the president's story doesn't ring true for numerous reasons. First, what Biden said to have seen would have been most unusual 60 years ago. "But back then, gay men generally did not kiss in public. Many people regarded homosexuality as deviant. Delaware's Rehoboth Beach had some bars regarded then as gay-friendly but that's not the same as the strait-laced business community in downtown Wilmington."

At the time, the Post continues, "Delaware newspapers reported on what one described as Wilmington police 'efforts to keep known homosexuals who had been drawn from outside the city from gathering here.' Police had arrested 35 men on charges of lewdness in a six-week period, primarily around a public 'comfort station' located about a 25-minute walk from Rodney Square (the downtown location Biden claimed to have seen the kiss)."

The New York Times reported in a piece on Biden's evolution on same sex marriage: "He has repeatedly told a story, recounted with variations on details of the moment, of seeing two men kiss when he was a teenager and his father saying: 'Joey, it's simple. They love each other.'"

But, according to the Post, Biden's story has changed over the years with one version taking place on a Delaware beach. "But in 1987, Biden told the Los Angeles Times yet another version — that his father had lectured him after he tried to put off a visit to a gay couple who were strong supporters of the senator and shared an apartment at a Delaware beach.

"Look, damn it, you're my son, aren't you?" Biden recalled his dad saying. "I'm telling you that they're good people. It's important to me that you meet them. Where the hell have you been raised?"

In 2019 BuzzFeed reported that the Biden campaign declined to explain the inconsistencies."

"Biden's admirers, though, believe the details matter less than his overarching message of acceptance," BuzzFeed said.

Biden, the Times observed, was ahead of the curve of even President Obama in his endorsement of same sex marriage as Vice President in 2012.

"Same-sex marriage was later legalized nationwide, in 2015, thanks to the Supreme Court's landmark ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges — but at least one current justice on the far-right Supreme Court has recently suggested reassessing the decision, creating fear that many LGBTQ+ people could lose their hard-won rights," People Mag reported.

And Biden continues to show his support: "This past December, Biden doubled down on his support of marriage equality and reinforced protections for LGBTQ+ couples by signing the Respect for Marriage Act into law, which guarantees that the federal government will continue to recognize same-sex marriages even if Obergefell were overturned down the line," People Mag said.

But a look at his career, the Washington Post added, shows that he opposed same sex marriage for most of his career.

"In 1973, as a freshman senator, Biden was startled when a gay activist asked him questions about military and civil service discrimination against homosexuals," the Post said. "'My gut reaction,' The Wilmington Morning News reported Biden as saying, 'is that they [homosexuals] are security risks but I must admit I haven't given this much thought ... I'll be darned!'"

In 1994 Biden supported an amendment co-sponsored by Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) that the Associated Press reported would "cut off federal funds to any school district that teaches acceptance of homosexuality as a lifestyle."

"In 1996, Biden voted for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defined 'marriage' as 'only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.' When President George W. Bush pressed for a constitutional amendment to prohibit same-sex marriage, Biden cited DOMA as making such an amendment unnecessary," the Washington Post said.

"Look, marriage is between a man and a woman," he told CNN in 2006. "Tell me why that has to be put in the Constitution now? We already have a federal law that has not been challenged. No one's declared it unconstitutional. It's the law of the land, saying marriage is between a man and a woman."

He repeated his stance on "Meet the Press," saying, "Nobody's violated that law, there's been no challenge to that law. Why do we need a constitutional amendment? Marriage is between a man and a woman."

Watch Joe Biden on "The Daily Show," Monday, March 13, 2023: