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

    The President has said pretty clearly he supports equality.
    Anyone who doesn't is simply a bigot.

    March 7, 2012 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  2. US guard

    Are they holding teh future US flag? Hope not

    March 7, 2012 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  3. Four and The Door

    Obama has a tough time when pressed on issues where he actually needs a set of values to answer. In most cases you can expect him to defer to his Chief Political Adviser David Axelrod, " What are my values on this one, David?". In many cases it also depends on who the crowd is he is addressing.

    March 7, 2012 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  4. 4merRepubCT

    Why should this be an issue? There is no constitutional amendment regarding same-sex marriage. The Dems simply need to recognize that, at this time, it's a states' rights issue. The stickler is that non-same-sex marriage states are violating the Constitution when they do not recognize the legality of same-sex marriages that occur in other states. Why is it okay for some states to disregard the full faith and credit clause?

    March 7, 2012 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  5. bill

    Does 'evolving' mean the same thing as voting present?

    March 7, 2012 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  6. Josh

    This is being pushed so much now, when the desire to marry did not exist prior. It's being packaged as "Equality" but I say "equal to what?" If the Democrats add this to their platform it's a recipe for defeat. While many are comfortable with the concept, the majority of Americans view this as a threat to traditional marriage. What about the impact on the children of these unions. Except for a few "perfect" examples that have been brought forth, how would these children feel if adopted to same sex. I also find it such a disruption, that violence could be a strong possibility - against gays.

    March 7, 2012 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  7. Larry L

    If defending the rights of our citizens is a problem politically for Democrats, we might remember the civil rights era when defending integration was also unpopular with conservatives. We shouldn't pander to Teavangelical voters on this or any other issue – that would make us Republicans.

    March 7, 2012 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  8. Randy, San Francisco

    The only candidate bringing the marriage issue to the front burner is Santorum, the culture warrior. Most voters are concerned about the economy and not social issues. This issue has substance only in red states that will obviously fall into the GOP/Tea Party column.

    March 7, 2012 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  9. MTATL67

    Change does not come over night. Just look how far we have come. The President has done right by the gay community. So if he can't get gay marriage into the platform that's OK. He has done more for us and is on the side of equality.

    March 7, 2012 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  10. GetReal

    Looks like the tail is trying to wag the dog. 🙂

    March 7, 2012 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  11. Josh

    It would be a mistake for the Democrats to include gay marriage, under the guise of "equality." I say equal to what? There was no desire to marry in the last century. Why is this so urgent now? I fear violence against gays is this is passed. You don't tamper with a 6000 year old institution. No one is going to hand this to them on a silver platter, while they cobble together their "famalies." Is this even fair to the children of these unions?. Some are comfortable with the concept, but regardless of Obama, this addition would be a ticket to defeat for Democrats.

    March 7, 2012 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  12. Rock

    I'm gay, and I say no to this. This issue is being shoved without regard for the consequences. Being couch with "equality" this is a crock. It's the self entitled who want this. It was never mentioned in my generation. Go ahead and add it to the Democratic platform. Everyone isn't gay. Everyone doesn't watch "Glee"

    March 7, 2012 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  13. clarke

    No marriage, straight or same sex should be on any platform. I am sorry but that should be for another time and place. There are way to many other serious issue to be dealt with that affect ALL the people in our country today.

    March 7, 2012 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  14. Wendy

    I don t think so. it s the gop who can t tolerate anything they don t like or don t have the sophistication to understand. the frantic spin ed bolling tried was hilarious. rush lost sponsers and that is about big money not politics

    March 7, 2012 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  15. cali girl

    I can guarantee that even if gay marriage does not get to the federal level this time, it still looks better to happen under the current president. However, I know my friends who are gay and lesbian do know that it would be worse with any of the GnOP residents. They could very well see states that passed have push back from the federal level, possibly looking for a federal mandate making them illegal.
    The gay/lesbian, women, immigrants, educated, working class and young people will band together to make sure Obama is in for 4 more.

    March 7, 2012 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  16. Beefburger

    Because when put to a vote. Gay marriage AND ITS PROPONENTS lose elections. With the Judiciary legislating from the bench we should be grinding the axe for those that appointed them as well.

    March 7, 2012 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  17. Liz the First

    People should not be 'in trouble' for believing in and supporting basic human rights! people should be in trouble for hating anyone different from themselves and trying to deny a significant segment of the population the same rights everyone else enjoys simply because they don't like them. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are not just for straight, white, christians. they're for all. liberty and justice aren't just for straight, white, christians, they're for all! we need to grow up in this country and stop codifying bigotry.

    March 7, 2012 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  18. enkephalin07

    Let's just pressure everyone who doesn't have a stake in the issue to put their political necks on the line taking up YOUR cause. Let's ensure a cheap and easy hotbutton issue is placed on a springboard for Republican fearmongering. Gay-marriage activists, this is how YOU elected George W. Bush.

    March 7, 2012 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  19. 3rd party

    Please make it an issue.

    March 7, 2012 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  20. Corey

    I'm sure he'll be 100 percent behind gay marriage (quite literally) come election day.

    March 7, 2012 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  21. SophieCT

    We're tired of waiting for Obama to grow a spine. Don't you just love it when a "constitutional scholar" holds his fingers up to the political winds and decides he won't do the right thing. Women, gays, jobless, underemployed, disenfranchised: all of us have been ignored by Obama. Is he really even a Democrat?

    Boot him out at the convention!

    March 7, 2012 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  22. Ted Ryder

    Gay marriage should not be part of the democratic platform. We have enough divisive issues right now. We can't get anything done because each team wants to pull further from the other. We need to find common ground to get things done and focus on what we can do–together.

    March 7, 2012 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  23. Mitzie

    As a heterosexual, I really don't understand the hoopla surrounding gay marriage. People believe that the bible casts homosexuaity as a sin. The bible also casts divorce as a sin...but our culture seems to have adapted nicely to divorce. Why are we, as humans, allowed to determine which sin is more egregious? I certainly don't think God gave me that power.

    March 7, 2012 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  24. Conrack

    The only trouble the Democrats are going t have this year is deciding who of the incoming Democratic freshman legislators gets what office space after the American public goes to the polls and takes care of business on November 6th.

    March 7, 2012 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  25. Jon

    Oh, for frak's sake – WHO CARES? Don't we have bigger problems than this right now?!

    March 7, 2012 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
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