The narrative from this weekend is that the vice president told the media yesterday that he favors redefining marriage. He seems really just to have said that he’s “comfortable” with redefining marriage and suggested sitcoms may be the mechanism for moving the evolution of public opinion. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (no relation) said this morning that he supports redefinition. Much of the interest in these statements is politically generated since it is hardly a surprise that an administration which refuses to defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act and in which the president publicly opposes every marriage amendment on the ballot (with very little effect so far) thinks redefining marriage is just fine.
What is ironic, of course, is that the logic of marriage redefinition — that thinking there is something distinct about the relationship of a man and a woman is outright bigotry — is still officially rejected by the president who, at least nominally, still thinks marriage is the union of a husband and wife. The dithering about the right policy on marriage within the administration suggests that this is not a self-evident matter on which all right-thinking (at least those enlightened by sitcoms) people agree but rather a political issue where the president is trying to figure out how much he can get away with. For now, he seems to believe the answer is “not much.”