Attitudes toward same-sex marriage are "evolving," and a national consensus for gay marriage is inevitable, Vice President 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 now is studying how to implement the policy, which could take several months.
The Defense Department earlier this month reported that in an eight-month study of more than 115,000 military personnel, 70 percent said ending the ban on gays serving openly would have a positive or neutral effect.
Combat unit personnel were more skeptical, with 58 percent of Marines and 48 percent of Army respondents saying that ending the ban would have negative consequences. And a sizable minority said repeal could affect morale and training, as well as whether they would stay in the military. Marines voiced the loudest opposition, the survey found.
After the survey's release, a Pew Research Center poll of the American public found 59 percent of the public favored allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly, with 23 percent opposed, down 4 percentage points from the previous month. Opposition has dropped 9 percentage points since March 2009, just after Obama took office.
The poll was conducted Dec. 1-5. Total survey sample was 1,500 people, and margin of error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.
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 while 42 percent favored allowing gays and lesbians to legally marry.