The Story Behind Biden's Switch to Supporting Marriage Equality

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Thursday January 21, 2021

President Joe Biden
President Joe Biden  (Source:Associated Press)

Biden's 2012 announcement of support of marriage rights for same-sex couples surprised everyone, particularly given his previously-shaky record on LGBTQ equality issues. It turns out there's a story behind his sudden advocacy: He had recently sat down and talked with a gay family, Variety reports.

The story recounts that in the spring of 2012, the Human Rights Campaign reached out to Michael Lombardo, who was the openly gay head of HBO at the time. Lombardo, his husband, and their children hosted Biden for a "meet and greet" that was intended to humanize the LGBTQ community for the then-vice president.

As Variety put it, "monied LGBTQ people in the entertainment industry — who had supported Obama in 2008, only to see California's discriminatory Proposition 8 pass during his election — they wanted more from the administration than just rescinding a few hateful policies of the past."

Lombardo recalled the meeting in comments to Variety, saying Biden "sat down and talked to our kids — and to us — as a human. Totally unguarded, totally present for my kids, in a way that moved us enormously."

Then on May 6, 2012, "shortly after the event at their home, Ward received a text from his aunt in Mississippi, saying they should turn on 'Meet the Press.' " Variety recounted. It was that very appearance in which Biden gave voice to his newfound support for marriage equality.

Biden "warmly told the story of meeting Lombardo and Ward's kids," the Variety story said. "What it comes down to, Biden said, is simple: 'Who do you love?' "

The Lombardo family had a reunion with Biden in 2020, as Biden was on the presidential campaign trail. Variety says that Lombardo, "now president of global television at Entertainment One," put on an event for Biden during the primaries. Biden took the chance to catch up with Lombardo's children, he said: "Our kids are much older now, and he is still Joe Biden — he spent time with them."

Lombardo went on to speak optimistically of Biden's ability to rise to the task of uniting a fractured America, saying, "I think his morality, humanity and authenticity are rare."

"After four years of what we've seen in Washington, all of those qualities are what we desperately need of right now."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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