This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal

President Obama isn't the only prominent Democrat tap dancing around the question of gay marriage this week. On Tuesday, former Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine performed policy pirouettes as reporters tried to pin down the Virginia Senate candidate's position on the hot-button social issue.

"Sure," Kaine replied, when asked if he'd share his stance.

Then, over the course of several minutes, he groped for middle ground at a breakfast sponsored by Third Way, a centrist think tank.

"The number one issue," he explained," is should committed couples have the same legal rights and responsibilities and the answer to that is an unequivocal yes."

Kaine noted he'd opposed an anti-same sex ballot measure in Virginia.

"I believe in the legal equality of relationships," he said firmly, in hopes of shifting topics. But what about same-sex marriage, the questions continued?

"Is it marriage, is it civil unions, is it domestic partners? I kind of let that one go," he said.

The crowd wouldn't. Kaine brushed off more questions of whether same-sex marriage is a civil right, or if it should be part of the Democratic platform (instead, he embraced "relationship-equality" again.)

Gay marriage was thrust back in the national spotlight on Sunday, when Vice President Joe Bidensaid he had no problem with the idea. It appeared to be a break from Obama, who has declined to embrace gay marriage but instead described his position as "evolving." On Monday, Arne Duncan, the secretary of education, kept the story alive by suggesting that he too backed same-sex marriage.

"I think the labels actually get in the way of the issue," Kaine said.

Bill Schneider, the host of the Third Way event, interjected: "The labels are the issue."

Finally, after more several minutes of back-and-forth, a reporter asked if she'd be wrong to write that Tim Kaine was for gay marriage.

"Just say I'm for relationship equality," he pleaded.

This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.

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