Playwright Tony Kushner sat down with Democracy Now's Amy Goodman to discuss Joe Biden's comments which led to President Obama expressing support for same-sex marriage. But the Tony Award winning Tony says don't believe the hype that this seeming flop wasn't orchestrated somehow to test the national waters on the issue of gay marriage during an election season. Here's the transcript:
TONY KUSHNER: I mean, there’s a lot that we won’t probably ever know. I mean, I don’t believe that it’s the case that Vice President Biden’s comments or Arne Duncan’s comments sort of forced the President to make this. I have a fair degree of certainty that Biden made the comments, having, you know, been given permission, at least, to speak his mind on the subject. He’s a wonderful guy and a great politician. And I suspect that it was—
AMY GOODMAN: The possibility that it was a trial balloon?
TONY KUSHNER: You know, I don’t know how these—I’ve never been—
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Or an orchestrated rollout?
TONY KUSHNER: Not entirely orchestrated. It wasn’t—I wouldn’t call it a "rollout," but it was something along those lines. I think that there’s enough coherence within the administration to make it somewhat unlikely that Obama was blindsided by Biden sort of saying, you know, off the cuff. There’s no evidence that this caused a sort of a—you know, a sort of crisis within the White House.
I think that there were people who were saying before, making analogies between Lincoln and Obama on this issue, and that he allowed other people in the administration to say things that he felt politically he couldn’t afford to say. I think there are a lot of—everything I do now is sort of filtered through Abraham Lincoln, but he’s been a very useful filter, I think, in thinking about the administration, the Obama administration. And I think that there’s a very interesting parallel between the 1864 election that Lincoln faced and the election that Obama is now moving into. I don’t think that same-sex marriage has the same prominence at all that emancipation had, obviously, in the heart of the Civil War, but it’s important for us to understand that there are issues that a progressive president may feel he has to articulate in a way that’s less than satisfactory. If Obama had said yesterday, "I’m still evolving," I would have been completely fine with that. I don’t ask that he declare support for same-sex marriage before he goes up against Romney.
You know, you were just reporting what’s going on in Greece now, which I think is something that really bears watching, because if this all results in the Greeks rejecting the euro, we could really be facing a summer and fall—well, we probably will be facing a summer and fall of great economic tumult that’s going to have an effect on America. And during times of economic tumult, it’s hard on an incumbent. All the swing states are states that are especially economically pressed.
The only thing that matters to me right now is that he get a second term and that we, hopefully, have a shot of getting the House back. Everything that anybody who’s progressive wants is absolutely dependent on those things happening. So, he doesn’t have—I’ve always known there’s no way on earth that Barack Obama doesn’t believe in same-sex marriage. There’s never been anything in his entire record as a politician, as a scholar, that indicates that it’s conceivable that he doesn’t get that this is a 14th Amendment issue, that it’s a federal, not a state, issue. What he needs to say to get elected—he got himself elected president of the United States, and I’m willing to concede—
I guess the take away for us is by this logic the administration feels like the country is now ready for a black president who supports gay marriage. Score?