The US president claimed that a high school incident opened his mind to same-sex marriage, but his voting record proves otherwise
US President Joe Biden claimed this week that seeing two men kiss while he was in high school led him to support gay marriage. However, Biden was a staunch opponent of same-sex unions until he was in his 60s.
Speaking to 'The Daily Show' host Kal Penn on Monday, Biden said that he had an "epiphany" on the issue when his father dropped him off at high school during his senior year.
"I [was] about to get out of the car and I look to my right and two well-dressed men in suits kissed each other, leaned in and gave each other a kiss," he said. "I'll never forget it. I turned and looked at my dad and he said, 'Joey, it's simple. They love each other'."
"It doesn't matter whether it's same sex or a heterosexual couple, they should be able to get married," Biden then declared.
Biden graduated from the Archmere Academy, a private Catholic school in Claymont, Delaware, in 1961. When he entered politics a decade later, he told a gay activist that homosexuals "are security risks," and should therefore be barred from military service.
As a senator, Biden went on to vote for a 1994 amendment that would strip federal funding from any school district "that teaches acceptance of homosexuality as a lifestyle," and the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as "a legal union between one man and one woman."
When President George W. Bush sought to add this definition to the US Constitution in 2006, Biden opposed the measure. He did not argue that his views had changed, but that as Congress had already made heterosexual marriage "the law of the land," Bush's proposal was a waste of time.
"We all voted on it," Biden told NBC News at the time. "Marriage is between a man and a woman and states must respect that."
Biden eventually changed his stance in 2012, when his boss, President Barack Obama, came out in favor of same-sex marriage. The Supreme Court ruled the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional a year later, and the law was fully repealed when Biden signed the Respect for Marriage Act last year.
Throughout his political career, Biden has been known to fabricate stories of his past. He falsely claimed to have been arrested en route to meeting Nelson Mandela in prison in Apartheid-era South Africa, and that he was arrested while protesting for civil rights in the 1960s. He has told several versions of his "epiphany" tale before too, claiming in 2014 that he played the role of the father in the story, and recalling a year later that the supposed incident took place when his father was driving him to apply for jobs in Wilmington, Delaware, as a 17-year-old.