Analysis: Same-sex marriage trouble for the Democrats?
March 7th, 2012
06:50 PM ET
3 years ago

Analysis: Same-sex marriage trouble for the Democrats?

(CNN) - Same-sex marriage could become a nettlesome issue for Democrats this election year. On Wednesday the Chair of the Democratic Convention, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, said he believes same-sex marriage should be included in the Democratic Party platform but the Obama campaign is trying to put the issue off to another day.

Democrats are divided over how to handle same-sex marriage at the Democratic convention. Six states plus the District of Columbia now allow same-sex marriage, and some Democratic activists are pushing for its inclusion in the party platform. But the president has not come out in support of same-sex marriage and has said his position on the issue is "evolving."

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Convention Chair Villaraigosa brought the party debate into public view during a Washington DC event when Politico's Mike Allen asked if be believes the Democratic Convention should include a marriage equality plank. "I do," Villaraigosa replied, "We want to make this the most accessible convention possible. This just isn't going to be open to a small group of people. On two of the four days there will be an opportunity for a much larger representation of people from all over the country to participate in our convention. The delegates will make the decision on the platform but I do support it and certainly have for a long time."

"We're a big tent party," Obama campaign manager Jim Messina told reporters during a conference call shortly after Villaraigosa made the remarks, but he skirted a question about embracing same-sex marriage as the party's position.

"There's not even a delegate platform committee yet," he reminded reporters. "There's a process to go through this discussion, and the DNC will go through that and we will have a platform."

He used the opening to argue the president has advocated for gay and lesbian rights saying, "our record stands in sharp contrast to the other side and what they other side has said is that they want a constitutional amendment on anti-marriage. They want to put back into place Don't Ask Don't Tell and a bunch of other regressive policies."

The president's campaign is counting on wealthy gay donors to help fuel their fundraising drive. Gay and lesbian donors contributed nearly $1.5 million at just one recent fundraiser. During that event, the president seemed to hint he's prepared to do more for this constituency in a second term but wouldn't specify if that means supporting a federal law for same-sex marriage.

"We're going to have more work to do on this issue, as is true on a lot of other issues. There's still areas where fairness is not the rule,” he told the crowd of gay and lesbian donors in Washington, D.C. on February 9th. "And we're going to have to keep on pushing in the same way - persistently, politely, listening to folks who don't always agree with us, but sticking to our guns in terms of what our values are all about. What American values are all about."

During a New York City event in May of last year, he also left it to the crowd to deduce his intentions. He told the audience, "I believe that gay couples deserve the same legal rights as every other couple in this country."

When someone in the audience shouted "marriage," the president replied "I heard you" but didn't elaborate.

It would be hard not to imagine a measure of the campaign's caution on this issue comes from their concern about appealing to socially-conservative swing voters in an election year.

But many gay and lesbian activists aren't in the mood to be political or patient on the issue. One group pressing for the president's self-described evolution to speed up is called Freedom to Marry. They've gathered support from nearly two dozen Democratic U.S. senators for inclusion of same-sex marriage language in the Democratic Party's platform at the convention.

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Filed under: 2012 • Democrats • President Obama • Same-sex marriage
soundoff (199 Responses)
  1. MAC

    The picture is disrespect for the American Flag! Will Obamacare make churches and the hospitals and schools they operate recognize same sex couples for insurance even if it is not recognized as marriage by the protestant and catholic church. Another Attack On Religion!

    March 7, 2012 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  2. jimatmadison

    If this is the extent of Democratic 'trouble', Obama will win 50 states.

    Talk about reaching for straws.

    March 7, 2012 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  3. us1776

    This is not a Democratic or Republican issue.

    It is a human rights issue.

    People from both sides of the aisle are coming out loudly in support of same-sex marriage.

    A person is born with a sexual-orientation that is part of their nature from birth.

    Every single mammalian population has some of its population that is same-sex orientation.

    It is time that we came out of the Dark Ages on this issue and granted same-sex couples the same and equal rights as opposite-sex couples.

    March 7, 2012 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  4. Ben

    I really hope that the Dems include gay marriage in their platform. It will probably give the Republican nominee 5 percentage points in the election.

    March 7, 2012 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  5. mfx3

    If you don't think Obama is doing enough, throw your support behind Romney and see if you get it any better.

    March 7, 2012 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  6. rude

    This could cost Obama the presidency. We know the reicht-wing's use of hate can be very powerful.

    March 7, 2012 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  7. joshua

    NO, Democrats are in trouble because of the economy, high gas prices, skyrocketing food prices, high energy costs, 5 trillion in debt, 17% real unemployment, illegal gun running, solyndra, apologies to terrorists, ObamaCare failures and skyrocketing healtcare costs, Timothy Geitner caught and arrested, his budgets not getting a single vote even from his fellow democrats, payoffs to his Wall Street buddies at goldman sachs, payoffs to his union buddies, payoffs to other democrats to vote for his failed obamacare, attacks on the citizens rights, 90 rounds of golf, and a few other things that will come out over the next few months.

    March 7, 2012 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  8. MichaelJ

    Obama, and Democrats in general, should be careful about being openly supportive of gay marriage. Plenty of people in America don't really care what people do on their own time, but they don't want to know details. Gay mariage would give too many people too much information.

    March 7, 2012 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  9. Jean Sartre, Milwaukee, WI

    President Obama needs to get on with the "Evolving" – a position he has held, publically, for 3+ years – and get EVOLVED!

    March 7, 2012 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  10. Robin

    NO inclusion, NO MONEY from me, end of story.

    March 7, 2012 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  11. jdoe

    Much ado about nothing. This is no different than every other election year.

    March 7, 2012 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  12. 12970

    Evolving? No it's a fact that will be stuffed down our throats after the election. He just can't come out with it now, he still needs to get elected.

    March 7, 2012 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  13. JC in Western U.S.

    How about if the Democratic Party said: "It's not the role of Government to dictate who you love, who you provide for in your estate, or who you choose to make end of life decisions for you. It is really none of the Government's business. We support the freedom of individuals to make those decision and to not be prevented from making them through legislation driven by an agenda of discrimination."

    March 7, 2012 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  14. Mitzie

    I don't agree that this is a troublesome issue for Democrats. Even Presidient Obama has stated that his views are evolving. Each year polls show more and more that the American people care more about inclusion. As a heterosexual female...I have never understood the hoopla surrounding gay marriage. Many people insist that the Bible casts homosexuality as a sin. The Bible also casts divorce as a sin but our culture increasingly dismisses divorce as one of the more egregious sins. I am one who believes that only God can make that call.

    March 7, 2012 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  15. Dave

    But...but...gay marriage compromises my "traditional" marriage! NOooooooo

    March 7, 2012 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  16. EnlightenedOne

    I believe that Martin Luther King jr. said it best, "A right delayed is a right denied". We are in the middle of a opening up of freedoms for a group that have been long denied their rightful status as equal. I for one believe that this should be a party issue just as I believe that it should be all of humanities' issue.

    March 7, 2012 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  17. Bob

    The POTUS has made it clear. He supports traditional marriage but supports civil unions. What is wrong with that? He is not against the gay lifestyle and he has made that clear.

    March 7, 2012 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  18. Abdulaziz

    The constitution includes "pursuit of happiness" Let people choose how to live their lives. Restricting the freedom of choice in this very personal aspect is unconstitutional.

    March 7, 2012 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  19. steven harnack

    The Republicans are on the wrong side of history on this one.(and many other things) Supporting equal rights for all is never a loser in the long run.

    March 7, 2012 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  20. Get real

    "big tent party" hmmm... Interesting

    March 7, 2012 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  21. James L.

    The trouble of full equality for same sex people is the regressive, reactionary, right wing. Even the lead into this article is misleading and biased on the side of the right wing. Just hinting at the blame on victims from the vicious, blatant bigotry and prejudice of the reactionary deconstructionist's, is disgusting. This whole article would have been more honorable by describing how difficult it is to maneuver in the political system because the bullies who desire the stomping of equal rights are dominating and intimidating the discussion, not the people who want the same rights ( over 13,000) enjoyed by the majority of Americans.

    March 7, 2012 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  22. David Duffield

    let's put a less pernicious title on it: Instead of Gay Marriage, lets call it Marriage Equality

    March 7, 2012 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  23. autumn Vandermark

    I am proud to say that when you love someone that you should have the right to marry that person, even tho the person may be of the same sex. We, the people of the gay community are made to pay taxes and are able to vote, but when we ask to have the same rights as a man and woman and marry are partner we gets shut down. I feel if u look at a straight or gay/ lesbian relationship I bet you will notice the gay/ lesbians are happy and commited, so let us marry because we will always be around. Let us thw gays/ lesbians be happy. God bless

    March 7, 2012 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  24. Joshua

    As a homosexual man I believe Obama will support it after his re election. I do not expect him to support it on an election year. It would distract from the main issues at hand and it is highly controversial. If the democrats and gay democrats for that matter are interested in re electing Obama we need to understand he cannot come out and endorse gay marriage right now, that would be political suicide. When he is serving his second term we can lay the pressure on him and then he can come out and support it.

    March 7, 2012 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  25. edvhou812

    Ha. Last thing Obama wants to do is listen to Villar. He might be hot in LA, but the rest of the country would hate him.

    March 7, 2012 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
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