Biden calls gay marriage ‘inevitable’ and that “soon it’ll be law”

A decade ago, then-Vice President Joe Biden shocked the political world and preempted his boss by suddenly declaring his support for gay marriage — one of the country’s most contentious issues — on national television. But not everyone was surprised.

A small group had attended a private fundraiser with Biden weeks earlier in Los Angeles where he disclosed not only his approval but his firm conclusion about the future of same-sex marriage.

He predicted, “Things are changing so rapidly, it’s going to become a political liability in the near term for someone to say, ‘I oppose gay marriage.’” “Mark my words. And my job — our job — is to keep this momentum rolling to the inevitable.”

The day that Biden envisioned may have arrived. He plans on Tuesday to sign legislation, passed by bipartisan majorities in Congress, to protect gay unions — even if the Supreme Court should revisit, as some fear or hope, its ruling supporting a nationwide right of same-sex couples to marry.

Biden’s signature will burnish his legacy as a champion of equality at a time when the LGBTQ community is anxious to safeguard legal changes from a backlash on the right that has used incendiary rhetoric, particularly against transgender people.

It is a historic moment and a long time coming,” said Bruce Reed, the White House deputy chief of staff and a longtime adviser to Biden. “It’s all the more inspiring in light of what the country has been put through in recent years, and what courts have threatened of late.”

If there’s a feeling of anticlimax, it’s because the politics of marriage have shifted as dramatically as Biden predicted. Although the issue is not universally embraced — a majority of Republicans in the House and Senate voted against the legislation — it’s no longer considered a dangerous third rail. That wasn’t the case a decade ago.

Chad Griffin, who led the American Foundation for Equal Rights and the Human Rights Campaign, said it was common for lawmakers to tell him, “You know privately I’m with you, and you know so-and-so in my family is gay or lesbian, but politically, I can’t be out there.