Analysis: Same-sex marriage trouble for the Democrats?
March 7th, 2012
06:50 PM ET
11 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.

Also see:

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'Joe the Plumber' wins GOP primary in Ohio

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Palin on open convention: Anything is possible

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

    nagrom you have it backwards. I know vast majority of posters on this site are liberals who are fully in bed (pardon the phrase) with openly gay lifestyles, SSM, and fully reject any and all ideas of morality. On the otherhand they are also the ones who are the most hatefilled and vitriolic. The basis for a Christian arguement against homosexuality is in the fact that not everything someone wants to do is good for them or for society. Christians believe that God created and infact designed the world so that we can find Him and be eternally happy. Our impulses have been corrupted by sin and we now desire things that harm us. The things that do harm to humanity and to human social and spiritual good are immoral (i.e. they lead us or others away from the goodness God desires for everyone.) He has created us with an inherent dignity and desires that we be with Him. Unfortunately we often reject what is best in favor of what is pleasurable. Pornography is immoral because it degrades those in the images by making them less than God designed them to be. They become objects for personal gratification. The love between persons is supposed to amplify our dignity so that is always good but the carnality between persons is not a good in and of itself. It is only good when combined with the purpose for which it was designed, procreation and the union of spouses. I'm sorry that you feel religious people hate you because I know I don't. I hope you will become the person God desires for you to become and nothing less.

    March 8, 2012 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  2. SDN

    rudy NYC: You sir, are one in a million. The ability to separate ones personal shortcomings from the requirements of our Constitution is rare indeed and deservedly admirable – many posts here clearly illustrate that point. Well done sir, and don't forget to vote.

    March 8, 2012 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  3. Kevin

    Wow, the dems sure can't decide if they support marriage or are against it. I guess if its a man and woman, not necessary and offensive that the right push for a core family, but if its two guys its great.

    March 8, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  4. TiredODaCrap

    Funny, anyone shocked that Barry is putting off this issue. is there anything that this man does without waiting for the time to be right to meet his political agenda? If the leader of the Democratic party (and yes, he is the leader) won't say that he's for it and it should be a part of the platform, what does that say about the hipocracy of the entire group!!!

    March 8, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  5. Ralph in Orange Park, FL

    Leave it out. No sense giving the church-nazis ammunition.

    March 8, 2012 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  6. fernace

    Seems to me the way the Religious Right & GOP-TP has gone after gays & womens rights, these past 18 mo's, they will be the 1s suffering the reprecussions! Gays rights are being blocked & womens rights are being questioned, diminished & raided! We are not happy about these developements! When you try to disenfranchise whole segments of society, especially in a nation like ours, we, the people wont stand for it! BTW, gays already have the same consti.tuti.onal rights as the rest of us, our lawmakers simply refuse to aknowledge that fact! All "bills, legislations, votes," on this matter, are actually geared toward taking those rights away! Obama is our only stopgap from being sent back to the closet or returned to 2nd class citizen status! Guess who will get our vote!? Obama/Biden next 4!!

    March 8, 2012 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  7. Equality

    I support the right of GLBT Americans to marry. I think the DNC needs a broader message though: Equality and inclusiveness. Don't pin it to one piece of legislation.

    March 8, 2012 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  8. John

    What is sad is that the issue isn't as important as the $$$ they will contribute. This isn't democratic electioms; it is again about who can spend the most $$$, which is shamefull. Thats why I am against Politicians.....they hold onto plenty of personal dollars in contributions BUT are inable to balance the budget.

    March 8, 2012 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  9. Mike Texoma

    I sympathize with Evangelicals. They believe that when the Rapture comes they are going to go to heaven and the rest of us are gong to be left behind, or worse, consummed by the lake of fire. They do not want that lake of fire for any of us, and so they try very hard to win converts to their theological conviction. But some of them are not content to persuade – they want to impose. They believe that when persons of the same sex lie together, that is an abomination to God. They would pass a law that criminalizes that behavior. They overreach.

    In a pluralistic and diverse society, we have to tolerate different lifestyles, different beliefs. We have to live cheek to jowl with fundamentalists and progressives and athiests and agnostics and gays and people from all walks and all faiths. We have no right to force others to believe as Christians believe. We can only love our neighbors, in the universal sense, and leave the rest to our Lord. Accusing and criticising, condemning,and excluding has no part in the Great Commission.

    March 8, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  10. CarrotCakeMan

    A year ago, major, nationwide, respected polls like CNN, Gallup, ABC-WaPo and others ALL started reporting that a MAJORITY of Americans support marriage equality. Polls this year are showing 57% to 59% support. Anti-gays have lost, and the GOP's message of hatred and fear for LGBT Americans is part of why it's tanking. No use telling your usual lies, anti-gays.

    March 8, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  11. Paul in NH

    How many gay people does God have to create before the religiious 'right' accept them?

    March 8, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  12. Peter

    Obviously President Obama will adamantly support gay marriage in his second term. That's why he needs to be reelected.

    March 8, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  13. Investment Advisor

    So much BS. Push the movement but back away from ownership. It shows how hypocritical the Democratic Party is. NOBAMA in 2012.

    March 8, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  14. rudy

    What would darwin say? Scientifically irrational, nothing to do with religion, a complete affront to laws of natural science

    March 8, 2012 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  15. Andrew

    Why are social conservs so hung up on making laws, projecting what they perceive as their "moral superiority" on to those that may have alternative lifestyle views? Are they trying to save them from Gods wrath before they incur it? Why not let them decide for themselves how they want to live?

    March 8, 2012 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  16. Balanced99

    Another effort to by CNN to avoid journalism. How can you write this article without mentioning that Obama clearly stated he believed marriage was between a man and a woman during while campaigning for president – and that his administration has clearly failed to enforce the defense of marriage act. Had a republican changed they're point of view – you can guarantee the issue would be up front and center, written directly and include the words flip and flop.

    One thing is for certain, Obama's team knows they can rely on CNN and the majority of media to somewhat cover stories – always in their favor.

    We've lost the fourth estate!

    March 8, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  17. SDN

    righteous: This country was intended to be a Constitutional society from the get-go. Godless? If that is what the majority of the population decides. The Constitution absolutely guarantees your pursuit of the (legal) lifestyle you choose. It also does the same for everyone else.

    March 8, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  18. Brian G

    I think some are missing the point. The President, as an individual, has said publicly that he doesn't necessarily believe in same sex marriage. He's still a human being with an opinion, and that's his opinion. He has definitely shown an ability to push his personal beliefs aside to do what is right. So what's wrong with the guy taking some time to think it through? The truly ignorant people, on this message board and in this country, are too reactionary, too quick to pull the trigger. Bush was that guy and look where it got us? Marriage has NOTHING to do with religion in terms of same sex marriage. The Church can still deny someone from getting married but the fed and state can still issue a marriage license. So take the religion out of the decision, please. There is still a separation of Church and State.

    March 8, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  19. SDN

    investment: What's your cut?

    March 8, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  20. Rudy NYC

    Taran wrote:

    @Rudy,,learn to read/comprehend. I said "constitution/law." DOMA is a "law." If you don't like it, do the proper procedures to change it, don't ignore it just because you want to.
    Practice what you preach. The Constitution says, "...No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges..." Did you see the part where it says "enforce"? Enforcing the law is unconstitutional, so the Obama administration is not enforcing it because they believe it to be unconstitutional, an opinion which the SCOTUS will uphold.

    March 8, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  21. pat carr

    " I know vast majority of posters on this site are liberals who are fully in bed (pardon the phrase) with openly gay lifestyles, SSM, and fully reject any and all ideas of morality."

    Wow how utterly arrogant of you. Shame on you. I am a centrist and have plenty of "morality". Just because many of us do not subscribe to your cult or it's evil holy book doesn't mean we don't lead moral lives. In fact let's take a look inside your book at some the worst atrocities every described.

    March 8, 2012 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  22. KYINDY

    Excalifornian, you do not speak for all Christians (actually you sound more like a modern day Pharasee). I am Christian by choice and gay by birth, created by God to be exactly who I You may not approve, but then again, it is not your place to approve or disapprove.

    March 8, 2012 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  23. Rudy NYC

    dave wrote:

    I now pronounce you Husband and Wife – Gay marriage does not have a Husband and Wife – I am not saying I am for it or against it – Just please acknowledge that gay marriage is a big change. Gay marriage is not just giving people rights that were wrongfully withheld. Gay marriage is a change in the definition of marriage.
    Tell us what that has to do with the US Constitution? No one is telling churches that they must perform same-sex marriages. If a church feels that it cannot perform same-sex marriages, then that is their inalienable right. Conversely, a church does not have the right to abridge the rights and priviliges of people who are not members of that church. It works both ways.

    March 8, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  24. SDN

    rs springs: Disinformation is an unworkable strategy with an educated public.

    March 8, 2012 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
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