- The Washington Times - Monday, June 24, 2024

President Biden and music legend Elton John will mark the 55th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, which began the start of the modern gay rights movement, during a trip to New York this weekend, according to a report.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment but did say last week that Mr. Biden would attend an “official event” in the city in between multiple fundraisers in the New York region.

Mr. Biden’s visit to the Stonewall Inn was first reported by the New York Post. No other information on the planned event was made available.

The president will fly to New York on Friday, after debating former President Trump in Atlanta on Thursday night. He will attend a fundraiser in Manhattan that Friday evening and then head to East Hampton on Saturday for two more fundraisers along with a separate stop in Red Bank, New Jersey.

Mr. Biden’s views on same-sex marriage and gay rights have changed over time. He has described his shifting views as an “evolution.”

In 1993, Mr. Biden voted for legislation that codified a don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy for gay people in the military. He supported an amendment that would remove that policy but still supported the overall bill when that amendment failed.

A year later, he joined other senators in voting to cut off federal funds that teach acceptance of homosexuality as a lifestyle.

Mr. Biden also supported 2003’s Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as between men and women for federal purposes and let states refuse to recognize same-sex unions in other states.

“This has long been a state issue and it should remain that way,” Mr. Biden said at the time.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Mr. Biden reiterated his opposition to same-sex marriage. When asked during the October 2008 vice presidential debate, Mr. Biden was asked by moderator Gwen Ifill if he supported same-sex marriage and he simply responded, “No.”

However, he was the first major political figure to endorse same-sex marriage when he unexpectedly broke with President Obama during a 2012 “Meet the Press” interview.

“I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men and women marrying another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties,” Mr. Biden said.

At the time, Mr. Obama was still working through the issue and immediately sought to walk back Mr. Biden’s comments. However, the interview prompted Mr. Obama to take the same position several days later.

“This has long been a state issue and it should remain that way,” Mr. Biden said at the time.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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