Analysis: Same-sex marriage trouble for the Democrats?
March 7th, 2012
06:50 PM ET
2 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. Cannan

    Same sex marriage, something I used to think it was okay, now I am realizing that it will innevitably destroy family structure, the value of marriage (what ever "value" we have left in this country).

    The truth? The Bible says it is wrong. Why? I dont really know. And the Bible does not explain why it is wrong. And perhaps we aren't supposed to know why. But the Bible is clear that same sex marriage is not something apporved by God. The solution? Obey God's laws and pray for the wisdom and endurance to obey Him in the temporary world we live in. After all, it was disobedience that got Adam and Eve into trouble in the first place. And notice God never told Adam or Eve what would happen to them if they disobeyed. They never saw what was the big deal of eating the forbidden fruit. Just like now, we dont see why God says not to marry the same sex. We just try to justify that it is right. Case in point? We might findout one day why God is against it only after we ruin society to the point of no return by destroying family structure, values, and order.

    Dont get me wrong, I do not hate gays. I have firends that are gay, an uncle that I love who is gay, and co-workers which I care about that are gay. I just believe we are all born with temptations not approved by God. And our goal is to ask Him (God) to help us fight these weaknesses we face in this world. Through faith, God WILL help us overcome ALL temptations. I myself am a living witness of that.

    March 7, 2012 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  2. john

    Americans are becoming more accepting of homosexuality, but it should be noted that gay marriage is not common in jurisdictions where it is legal. Less than 10% of Canadian gays and lesbians over 18 years of age have ever been married. Gay marriage has been legal there ( by court order) for about 9 years in most of the country. It is actually on the decline there though. Fewer, not more gays are getting married. In BC, the westernmost Canadian province, about 60% of gay marriages are to foreign couples.

    I'm not saying this to argue that gay marriage is wrong but that it is not a huge political winner for the Dems. Gays want the right to marry and the status symbol of it, but most are simply not getting married, so at most we are talking about less than 1% of the population. In fact, in Canada 99.9% of marriages are still traditional, one man and one woman marriages.

    March 7, 2012 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  3. Dave

    Wimps.
    They try to use the issue to their benefit, but are afraid to take a party stand.
    That is really the problem with Obama...he reacts to opinions ....he does not lead opinion.
    Sad.

    March 7, 2012 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  4. nate

    Questions of marriage should be left to the states.

    March 7, 2012 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  5. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    This is something that the states should decide first. Once most of the states have come to a decision, then it will make its way to the Supreme Court. I honestly don't know how to see this not being a homosexual. I can see the parallels between this and the Civil Rights movement that some people have made allusions to recently.

    March 7, 2012 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  6. NoWay

    No way.

    March 7, 2012 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  7. Samian

    Does anyone actually even look at the party's platform?

    Here in Texas, the Republican Party platform says sodomy should be criminalized (despite the US Supreme Court getting rid of such laws a decade ago!).

    March 7, 2012 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  8. janelle

    President Obama's view on everything is "evolving", until a poll tells him what 51% of people want on each particular issue.

    March 7, 2012 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  9. Thinks2010

    Polls indicate that 53% of Americans believe same-sex marriage should be legal in the United States. Once again it is the people who lead and not the politicians (our supposed leaders). Perhaps that's as it should be in a democracy most of the time, but it seems as though true leadership from our elected officials is often required where human rights are in question. Too bad that leadership is missing in both political parties.

    March 7, 2012 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  10. The_Ack

    I find it interesting that the President has no moral group or integrity and has an evolving ethic. Personal integrity should not evolve but be build on a solid foundation. If we build our lives on sand, they will be washed away.

    March 7, 2012 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  11. MashaSobaka

    It's time for Democrats, and America, to step up to the freaking plate. We have been discriminating against our own citizens for far too long and it's time to put an end to it. Mr. Obama, I humbly request that you grow a spine and stand up for what it right, whether it is politically convenient or not. The majority of Americans are in favor of same-sex marriage, and the arguments that the Republican party will use against it will be do disgusting that rational, educated people will not vote for them after hearing it. So MAN UP, Mr. President, and do what you KNOW needs to be done!

    March 7, 2012 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  12. Tony Antin

    I really can't understand the gay population insisting on using the word "marriage." If two people of the same sex want to tie their lives together, fine; and with all the responsibilities and rights legally and socially accepted and enjoyed by the marriage moral/legal contract. It's just a fight over a word. All we need to do is agree that the definition of a marriage always...always...has been and remains a joining of a man and a women, with procreation being nature's intent. And a simular "joining" of same sex people is called something else, a Partnership and Union or whatever.

    March 8, 2012 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  13. Phillco

    Unfortunately Obama could lose reelection to a republican if he pushers too hard to GLBT issues but once he is reelected, he will make great progress and push for equal rights for all.

    March 8, 2012 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  14. Ozymandias71

    I don't see the issue. Consider: the GOP candidates have already signed an explicitly anti-Gay 'pledge' that would reinstate DADT, push for a Federal-level anti-Gay marriage amendment – to say nothing of the conservative agenda pushing to either roll back existing rights for LGBT Americans (see New Hampshire) or push to *further* legislate against LGBT Americans (see Tennessee, Michigan, North Carolina, etc. etc. etc.)

    If the Democratic party took a pro-Marriage Equality stand as part of their platform, and *clearly* explained why, then I believe that many Independents and moderate Republicans would be far more likely to vote Democrat. Conservative Democrats would still have enough common cause to remain with the Democratic party.

    March 8, 2012 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  15. Tom S.

    "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."

    As a gay man myself, i understand the frustration and the willingness to fight hard for your rights, but you must also fight smart. If Obama comes out and says on record that he full supports gay marriage he may lose some of those crucial swing voters and thats not something i want to risk. this is the only presidential candidate this year that will fight for LGBT rights and, i believe, truly supports and wants full equal rights for all people, including marriage rights. Why risk him losing because you want him to shout it from the roof tops before he gets re-elected. wait until the day after and let him shout it during his victory speech.

    March 8, 2012 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  16. iadadman

    It's coming one way or another. We've seen how it goes here in Iowa. Once marriage equality is around for a while the more reasonable people begin to see that it's not actually a threat to them and the whole debate becomes more human. Look at the numbers in Iowa. The majority opinion has shifted a lot since same sex couples have been legally allowed to marry. Now people can see that they're literally attacking families by attacking those relationships.

    Sorry to the folks who don't want to change on this but the genie is out of the bottle. Which side of history are you going to be on?

    March 8, 2012 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  17. aaron

    No use playing into the Repub propaganda machine by including gay marriage in the platform. They'll harp it on so long that the trailer parks will empty out as the ignorant line up to vote for the winner of the Repub freak show of presidential candidates. It'll overshadow the mess the Repubs made of the economy, unemployment, high gas prices, and more tax breaks for the rich then you can shake a stick at.

    March 8, 2012 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  18. search for sanity

    One step at a time, getting ahead of yourself will only bring a set back. Certain people believe same sex marraige will be the down fall of the nation. One at a time all 50 are beginning to open their eyes, so pushing a platform will only bring more push back and hate.

    March 8, 2012 01:08 am at 1:08 am |
  19. Eric

    The legal issue is whether civil marriage, alone among laws, can be denied to consenting adults on the basis of gender. Anti-gay lawyers have been unable to prove in court that there is any rational basis to deny civil marriage on this basis. Thus, pro-gay lawyers win all the court cases relating to marriage and will continue to do so.

    March 8, 2012 02:29 am at 2:29 am |
  20. SixDegrees

    The Administration has been trying to put this issue off to another day the entire time it's has held office. When is the day going to come when they act on what they have claimed so loudly to support?

    March 8, 2012 02:43 am at 2:43 am |
  21. Orwell shrugs

    This is being sorted out in the states. History has proven going after homosexuals is wrong, a major three card Monty distraction usually by intolerant hypocrites; next let us bring back death penalty for eating pork.

    Obama needs to stay focused on health care, economy, corporate accountibility, and nuclear proliferation. Get these wrong we are broke, no credibility, impotent, and waiting for an out of control international nuclear event.

    March 8, 2012 02:50 am at 2:50 am |
  22. stranger in an increasingly strange land

    I do not understand the problem with marrying anyone of age that you love and who loves you. It is not like gays and lesbians are going to force hetro people to marry them. They do not want hetros. They want to marry the folks they love. The only reason to deny them the right to marry is based on religious beliefs. And this country was founded on the separation of church and state.

    March 8, 2012 03:20 am at 3:20 am |
  23. mauiharper

    I'm all for gay marriage, but shouldn't we be more concerned about the economy, our failing infrastructure, failing education system, and jobs before we concern ourselves with social issues? Gay marriage will take care of itself because the plethora of lawsuits about this will surely make its way to the supreme court, where they will have to rule in favor of it. Marital status affects your tax bracket and the court will have to recognize it as a protected right for all people or do away with marital rights completely. The hand writing is on the wall with this issue, which is why the conservative supreme court won't take it up until they are forced to.

    March 8, 2012 03:32 am at 3:32 am |
  24. Mary

    If the gay rights movement wants a celebration of gay marriage by asking us for support, they need to be much more open about what it is they will be doing on the honeymoon. We are open about women's bodies in the most private ways. What about mens' health issues regarding men having sex with men? Are you going to be able to withstand public scrutiny? How will these sexual activities infringe upon our families and the health of our country? What will your instructional videos look like? Are you aware that openness might decrease support?

    March 8, 2012 03:50 am at 3:50 am |
  25. Proud to be an Independent !

    Seriously this has to be the stupidest issue out there ! I can't think of one thing that would change in my life if gay's were allowed to marry ! They live together just like any other married couple anyway ! Why should I care what they choose to do with their lives ?

    March 8, 2012 04:03 am at 4:03 am |
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