8:26am PT by Seth Abramovitch
Joe Biden Cites 'Will & Grace' in Endorsement of Same-Sex Marriage (Video)
Vice President Joe Biden made history on NBC's Meet the Press this morning, becoming the highest-ranking U.S. official to openly endorse equal marriage rights for gay and lesbian citizens. In explaining his thinking, Biden credited Will & Grace -- NBC's hit situation comedy about a gay man and his straight, female best friend that ran on the network from 1998 to 2006 -- as having done more to shift public perception on the issue than anything else.
Asked by host David Gregory if his position on same-sex marriage had "evolved" to the point where he was now openly accepting of it, Biden said, "I just think that the good news is that ... more and more Americans [have] come to understand what this is all about is a simple proposition: Who do you love? Who do you love and will you be loyal to the person you love? And that's what people are finding out what all marriages at their root are about."
Pressed by Gregory to acknowledge whether or not that meant he was "comfortable" with same-sex marriage, Biden replied, "Look, I am Vice President of the United States of America. The president sets the policy. I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying woman and heterosexual men marrying women are entitled to the same, exact rights. All the civil rights, all the civil liberties. And quite frankly I don't see much of a distinction beyond that."
The Vice President would not specifiy whether or not the Obama-Biden administration would pursue same-sex marriage rights should they win a second term in office, saying only the matter "is evolving" -- the same language used in the past by president Barack Obama to describe his own feelings on the topic. But Biden suggested the country was on a course for change, pointing out that such a shift begins "when the social culture changes. ... I think Will & Grace did more to educate the American public more than almost anything anybody has done so far. People fear that which is different. Now they're beginning to understand."
Top Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod tweeted shortly after Biden's appearance, "What VP said -- that all married couples should have exactly the same legal rights -- is precisely POTUS's position." The statement was worded in such a way as to only endorse those states which already offer equal rights to gay and lesbian citizens.
Debra Messing, the star of NBC's Smash and the "Grace" of Will & Grace, tagged her former co-star Eric McCormack in a tweet that read: "I could not be more proud. Thank you Mr. Vice President for yer support and yer words about W&G. #humbled." McCormack later responded on Twitter: "Three cheers for VP Joe Biden! Fantastic interview. Now who ELSE is gonna step up? "
Watch the interview below.