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. Evolutions

    "Evolving" A wise choice of words from a man who understands not to show your cards before an election and a hint to those with ears that is also means considerations. People need to have patient with the president as your choice of Rom-Sant-Grinch await you and then your hour will be set back a 100 years...Patient humans who describe themselves as gay or lesbian or transgendered... Patience is a requirement..God is not a bigot!!

    March 8, 2012 04:06 am at 4:06 am |
  2. Lisa Votino-Tarrant

    Democrats like to say they are on the right side of history, so it will be interesting to see if same-sex marriage is added to the national platform. I think it would be a bad move for dems on a national level to take large donations from lgbt people, have them be some of the fiercest volunteers I've ever seen...and then remind them that at the end of the day, they are second class citizens and are without the same rights as their straight counterparts. I think President Obama and the committee will cave...

    March 8, 2012 04:39 am at 4:39 am |
  3. Houffman

    I'm not sure why this should be an issue for the Democrats. From all I hear them say, the majority of the country supports gay marriage. It appears that most in the Democratic leadership feel the same, except for the President, whose views are said to be "evolving" and apparently have been since his election in 2008. I guess "evolution" is slow. If a President and his party are to be leaders, they should embrace what they say they believe. (I personally support civil unions over a redefinition of marriage.) Democrats ought to have the strength of what they say are their convictions.

    March 8, 2012 05:30 am at 5:30 am |
  4. Marie MD

    Please get over it! Progress is being made. Maryland just passed the same sex marriage law. If anyone wants to stop it it's the teapublikans who are trying to gather enough signatures to put it on the ballot come November.
    Go after the religious right wing bible thumping hating zealots.

    March 8, 2012 06:29 am at 6:29 am |
  5. stephen

    Well, this is going to be interesting. The fact that Obama 'still struggles' with this issue will be compelling as to whether he will again 'compromise' and have this issue presented at the convention in Charlotte OR the President will pander and a very small element will be presented. I bet the latter. The fact is, is that the Democrats have ZERO core absolute values is what makes this extremely humorous.

    March 8, 2012 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  6. Anonymous

    Democrats shooting themselves in the foot again?

    March 8, 2012 07:14 am at 7:14 am |
  7. Steve

    Continued discrimination in our nation is one of many things which mark our slip to the bottom among developed nations.

    March 8, 2012 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
  8. Guess What

    A Storm Is Coming and obama and the demoncrats can do nothing to stop it, haha

    March 8, 2012 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  9. Get-Real

    Same sex marriage has always been a problem for many Democrats. Yet, the Democrats yell and scream it's only Republicans that have a problem with same sex marriage. The Democrats use the gay community just like they use others to get votes.

    March 8, 2012 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  10. Anonymous

    Wow, CNN is desperate to create controversy here. While it may be of some minor importance whether or not a gay marriage plank is present, the real fact of the matter is that America is accepting gay marriage more and more each year. It's the GOBP that will pay the price for their repeated, and ignorant, demonizing of our gay relatives, friends and co-workers.

    March 8, 2012 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  11. demwit

    No worries, Obama is confident that he has another 4 fours to address this and all those unfulfilled promises from 2008..

    March 8, 2012 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  12. W.G.

    I think that rather than a political agenda set by the democrats it should be a states choice wether
    to allowit or not .

    March 8, 2012 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  13. facepalm

    im tired of all these hot button issues especially while our economy is in the toilet

    yet further proof we need a viable third party to concentrate on the REAL issues facing this country.

    March 8, 2012 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  14. TONY

    what trouble are you talking about republicans will not do anything with regards to gays if they had their way they will outlaw homosexuality. at least the dems are making strides with gays give me some better news will you .

    March 8, 2012 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  15. MarriageBetweenMen&Women!

    Thank you for permitting me the opportunity to express my view on this subject and you are welcome for my ancestors settling the New England region during the establishment of this nation so that you can express your opinion on this subject matter.

    But I will ask that you stop offending me and my family whenever we exercise that right. MY family's graves dot the entire East coast for having fought and many died for the cause of liberty – not yours.

    I guess that makes me AND my sons pretty important.

    Thanks!

    March 8, 2012 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  16. StevieBoy

    As a gay man, I say we should NOT push the gay marriage issue in this election year. Obama's intentions may not be clear, but I think we can catch his drift. Let's just focus on keeping him in office and then put his feet to the fire, but don't rock the boat with this issue right now... it's coming anyway, so be patient!

    March 8, 2012 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  17. demwit

    No worries, Obama is confident that he will have another 4 years to address this.., and all those other unfullfilled promises, at some point in the future. Wink Wink. But please send contribution now..

    March 8, 2012 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  18. bkgrandma

    I find it hard to believe that the gay community would try to put gay marriage in the Democratic platform and possibly hurt Obama at the polls. Don't they realize that if he weren't president we would still have Don't Ask, Don't Tell? Give the man another term and let him advance gay rights even further, Are they demanding that same sex marriage rights be also put in the Republican platform? That would be more interesting!!!

    March 8, 2012 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  19. Pastor Evans

    Heaven and Earth will pass away, but God's words will never pass away! This issue has already been settled by God, so it tells you something when people now think they can change what God has already defined and established! One man and one women in HOLY union! What's so hard about that?

    March 8, 2012 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  20. Tnjen

    I am torn in some sense regarding the church's and the conservatives view on same sex marriage. How? I am a person of faith, I attend a local church regularly. That said, I am also transgendered, along with wearing many other hats such as being a health care worker and Democrat. In reading the Bible what must be considered, with the exceptions of direct quoting of Christ himself, the Bible was written by men such as ourselves. That even includes Peter, the founder of the Catholic Church, the first Pope.From my reading of the Bible, I saw that Jesus's love and messages were for all people, even gays I am convinced. Our country, the U.S.A. has been called "the melting pot", meaning we are a nation of many different cultures. Each of our cultures, if they are legal Americans, by our own Constitution and ideology as a nation, should be entitled to equality. To do otherwise is a contradiction to who we are as a nation, you got it, it's UN-American! It is time for America to be America in practice as well as in principle. Contact your local Representative, Senator, or Congressman to let them know if your gay and American, you are entitled to be treated like the other Americans of this country. I am convinced God still loves you if your gay, and it is about time your country loves you enough to treat you like any other member of this nation,

    March 8, 2012 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  21. th

    Keep church out of the decision and it is an easy one to make. Everyone should be treated equal no matter if they are gay or not. The churches are trying to push their beliefs on everyone. We all have our own beliefs so keep your beliefs out of my business.

    March 8, 2012 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  22. spud123

    B.O. will pull the old bait and switch. He won't support the idea of gay marriage until he gets re-elected. There are a lot of conservative democrats who don't support the idea of gay marriage. The area I live in is heavily democratic but they are conservative dems. They typically vote democrat but the full support of gay marriage would be a deal breaker for them.

    March 8, 2012 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  23. Wake up people

    Leave the man alone will you! Jeez, there are more important issues like the economy. At least he respects the gays and lesbians unlike the rethugs, that want them to have no rights.

    March 8, 2012 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  24. Aezel

    @Samian That's the good old GOP! Obsessed with sex non-stop. They would install cameras in your bedroom and watch every day if the Supreme Court let them.

    March 8, 2012 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  25. Rudy NYC

    Someone needs to tell Mayor Villaraigosa that he should let Republicans bring the social issues to the table. Mr. Mayor needs to trust the other side to be stupid enough to make it a central part of their campaign platform, instead of more pressing issues like jobs, national debt, and the economy.

    March 8, 2012 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
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