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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 3 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 31
Democrats will add marriage equality to platform, Barney Frank says
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Democrats will add marriage equality to platform, Barney Frank says

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Democratic Party platform drafting committee will recommend adding a marriage equality plank, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) told the Washington Blade this week.

The committee is a smaller panel of the full Platform Committee, charged with writing the party platform to be formally adopted at the Democratic National Convention in September.

Frank, a member of the drafting committee, said all 15 members voted unanimously to add a marriage plank and several other pro-LGBT positions on July 29.

'I was part of a unanimous decision to include it,' Frank said. 'There was a unanimous decision in the drafting committee to include it in the platform, which I supported, but everybody was for it.'

A Democratic National Committee staffer, who spoke to the Blade on condition of anonymity, said that in addition to marriage equality, the draft platform would include an end to DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) and language supporting ENDA (the Employment Non-Discrimination Act).

A 'close-to-final draft' of the platform will be presented to the whole Platform Committee when it meets in Detroit next weekend. That committee will consider amendments before presenting the platform at the party's convention, which takes place in Charlotte, N.C., September 3 to 6.

The exact wording of the proposed LGBT planks language has not yet been revealed. It is not clear if the new platform will include endorsement of specific legislation.

Nevertheless, it is almost certain the marriage equality plank will be adopted, along with the other pro-LGBT language, and many observers believe that will be a stunning advance for the Democrats.

'The ratification of a Gay marriage plank could mark the effective end of Gay marriage as a contentious issue within the party,' Steve Kornacki wrote at Salon.com. 'Overall support for marriage equality is still quickly rising among all voters, and by 2016 it will probably be a given that every Democratic presidential candidate will be onboard.'

Only 16 years ago, most Democrats in Congress voted to pass DOMA and Democratic president Bill Clinton signed it into law. A mere four years ago, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said he was still 'evolving' on the issue of equal marriage rights, and Hillary Clinton, his opponent for the Democratic nomination, would only support civil unions.

LGBT ACTIVISTS PRAISE MOVE
LGBT rights activists noted the historic shift, and were quick to praise the Democratic committee.

'We are grateful for the Platform Drafting Committee's unanimous vote to include the freedom to marry in its draft of the Democratic Party platform,' said Freedom to Marry campaign director Marc Solomon.

'As I testified to the Committee on Friday, the Democratic Party has a noble history of fighting for the human and civil rights of all Americans. We are proud that the Committee is including language that will ensure the Party is leading the way forward in supporting marriage for loving and committed same-sex couples and their families.'

'Like Americans from all walks of life, the Democratic Party has recognized that committed and loving Gay and Lesbian couples deserve the right to have their relationships respected as equal under the law,' HRC president Chad Griffin said.

'I believe that one day very soon, the platforms of both major parties will include similar language on this issue.'

The 2008 Democratic platform, adopted at the convention that nominated Obama for president, called for 'full inclusion of all families, including same-sex couples, in the life of our nation' and for 'equal responsibility, benefits, and protections.' It did not endorse same-sex marriage, however, at least in part because Obama was trying to finesse the issue during the campaign.

The 2008 platform also was critical of DOMA, but at the time no one had introduced specific legislation aimed at repealing it. The Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal DOMA, was introduced by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) in 2009. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) is the bill's primary Senate sponsor.

A Pew poll released July 31 found that 65% of Democrats and 51% of independents support marriage equality, while only 24% of Republicans do. The 2012 numbers reveal a 15-point jump in support among Democrats over the 2008 survey, and 7 points among independents.

A May 2012 CNN/ORC poll found similar numbers. Seventy percent of Democrats and 60% of independents said they support legal recognition for same-sex marriages, while only 23% of Republicans did.

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