Biden: Unity on gay marriage in U.S. 'inevitable'

WASHINGTON — Attitudes toward same-sex marriage are "evolving," and a national consensus for gay marriage is inevitable, Vice President Joe Biden said Friday.

Biden gave a somewhat more optimistic view than President Obama, who earlier this week told reporters: "I think this is something that we're going to debate and I personally am going to continue to wrestle with, going forward."

Friday, Biden cited the administration's successful push to repeal the military's 17-year-old "don't ask, don't tell" policy toward gays as a sign of the change in public attitudes. He saw the trend as leading to support of same-sex marriage.

"I think the country's evolving," he said in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America," "and I think there's an inevitability for a national consensus on gay marriage. That is my view. But this is the president's policy, but it is evolving. I think the country's evolving."

He discussed the change in military attitudes and recalled how Obama told military officials to prepare to end the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. "I think the same thing is happening across the country with regard to the issue of marriage," he said.

Congress approved overturning the "don't ask, don't tell" policy last week with bipartisan support, and Obama signed the legislation Wednesday. The Pentagon is now studying how to implement the policy, which could take several months.

Finding consensus on gay marriage could take some time, despite Biden's optimism.

A Pew survey released in October, based on two polls taken over several months, found that 48 percent opposed allowing gays and lesbians to legally marry, while 42 percent were in favor. Still, a Pew analysis noted, "for the first time in 15 years, fewer than half oppose same-sex marriage."

About 6,500 people were surveyed. The margin of error is plus or minus 1.5 percentage points.

Pew also found "the shift in opinion on same-sex marriage has been broad-based, occurring across many demographic, political and religious groups.