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. Righteous Indignation

    This is not surprising. This is how a Godless society thinks.They want to make wrong right and right wrong. And then you have the never to wonder why the morals of this country are in the gutter. Anyone who defies your belief, you call them a bigot. That's for you @OmegaRaiel

    March 8, 2012 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  2. SwilliamP

    As the parent of a LGBT, I recognize anything that contrasts with the demonization of alternate lifestyles that the Republicans are pushing, is fraught with risks. But sometimes doing what is right trumps political calculations, even at a cost. This is one of those times. Legalization should be on the party platform. We (Dems) need to take courage (news flash: advocating war with Iran as most Republican candidates do, is not courage. The candidates will not have to pay the price if this happens. Brave young men and women will)

    March 8, 2012 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  3. Rudy NYC

    I am personally against same sex marriage. I think it is morally wrong. But, that does not mean that I would fight against it from occurring in the U. There is nothing in the US Constitution to prohibit the practice.

    If anything, the US Constitution says that passing laws specifically aimed at prohibiting the freedoms and the rights of specific groups of people is unconsititutional. Personally, I don't even understand why states even need to pass laws "legalizing" same sex marriage. I think it is already legal. But, churches should not be required to perform same sex ceremonies.

    March 8, 2012 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  4. musings

    Marriages are handled at the state level. If you want to impose it at the national level, there is Congress. As to portability, so that you can move to another state and still claim the benefits of a married couple, then you go to court and if necessary work your way up to the Supreme Court. To have the President lead the charge in his re-election is counter-productive. Anyway, since elections turn on interests, I would be gob-smacked if the gays decided to vote for a Republican president in retaliation for not being mentioned. That's like something Malificent, the evil fairy whose invitation to Sleeping Beauty's christening was lost in the mail, would do for a snub. I think we are well past the days when evil fairies struck fear into the nation. Or are we?

    March 8, 2012 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  5. Vitamin Party

    Any intelligent person knows that the long term on this issue is non-existent. Prop 8 will go before the Supreme Court probably in the next 12 to 16 months, Kennedy will be the swing vote and it will be declared that banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

    On top of this, a majority of Americans are OK with same-sex marriage. It is only the overly religious who believe the word 'marriage' is sacrosanct that have a problem. I would even wager that most republican law-makers do not have a problem with gay marriage (or being pro-choice, for that matter) it's just that they use scare tactics to Pied Piper the under-educated into voting for the right.

    March 8, 2012 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  6. Matrix

    If the government kept out of marriage like they should, this would not even be an issue.

    March 8, 2012 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  7. Taran

    It boils down to what does the constitution/law say. DOMA, marriage is between a man and a woman. If you don't like it, change the law the right way. But stop with ignoring the constitution and law when it suits you and your agenda.

    March 8, 2012 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  8. Jaywing

    @Pastor Evans - I am apalled at your lack of knowledge when it comes to Christian history. Christianity did not even recognize marriage as anything but a secular subject until the 16th century, so don't give us your false rewrite. In fact, the Catholic church, for the majority of its existence claimed that marriage was more closely aligned with the concept of sin than grace. Where did you get your divinity degree, the back of a cereral box?

    March 8, 2012 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  9. tefera

    Mr. President t, that is not a good idea to put gay merriage issue on the democratic plat form. Never ever do that. Lots of folks will go away from you. This will be a red meat to RNC to galvanize their base and people that doesn't like gay merriage on the constitution will ask a series quistion what you r stanging for?

    March 8, 2012 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  10. tefera

    don't do it.

    March 8, 2012 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  11. Tony in Maine

    heavy sigh.

    "All who disagree with me are Godless commie, pinko liberal fascist pointy heads."

    very heavy sigh.

    March 8, 2012 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  12. lol Righteous Indignation

    Who are you and your religion to decide what is right and wrong for other people? You who base all your beliefs on some book that was written thousands of years ago based on a dude who lived hundreds of years before that. They believed in witchcraft, magic, talking snakes, virgin births, resurrection... It's not "godless society", it's "rational" society. It's time to join the rest of us in the 21st century.
    You're a bigot for hating and persecuting people who don't agree with your crazy beliefs. Don't try to spin this to be a war on riligion either, you are the one trying to impose bronze age values on modern society, and that's what you don't understand.

    March 8, 2012 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  13. Vince

    I doubt it. Given the choice between Democrats in power who have an "evolving" mind set on the issue....and a potential Republican nominee, like Santorum, who has the potential to round up all the gays, put little triangles on their shirts, and "relocate" them....I'd say Democrats will get the gay vote.

    March 8, 2012 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  14. Joe Voter

    Less government please. The government should not tell people who they can or cannot marry.

    March 8, 2012 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  15. Natalie

    why not the experts help teach online services to address same sex marriage issues.

    March 8, 2012 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  16. Rudy NYC

    Cannan wrote:

    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. .....
    So what.

    What does The Bible have to do with *content and intent* of The US Constitution? Nothing. Not a thing. That is how The Constitution is written, and that is how it shall remain. This is a Democracy, for the free practice of all religions. This is not a Theocracy, for the exclusive practice of Christianity and Christian beliefs.

    I agree with you on what The Bible says concerning homosexuality, but your conclusions make you a hypocrite. That's in there, too. A devout Christian should not concern themselves with works and deeds of evil, sinful men. Their only concern should not be to present *outward physical* resistance, but to turn the other cheek in the face of evil. A devout Christion should only present an *inner moral resistance*, the likes of which only the Lord can see feel within you.

    March 8, 2012 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  17. Gaeboi

    Dear Righteous Indignation:
    Who are you? Jesus? You're certainly not one of his representatives are you because you certainly aren't "representing". Your "righteous indignation" lies upon bigotry because again, we're talking about the constitution, not the bible. Furthermore, do you know anything about the bible at all? Where did Jesus state anything for or against homosexuality? What is the story of Sodom and Gomorrah really about? Does the bible really condemn homosexuality or is it just what your grandmother and pastor told you all your life? Come correct or don't come at all and if you're going to count Leviticus then we have to count the rest of the laws of the moral code. Exactly. You don't have enough knowledge. Besides, If this country and the world for that matter keeps feeding the mindset "Us" against "Them" then we won't ever get anywhere. Even if we endorsed your speculations of a "Christinized" nation. Feed upon that please and come with logic and structure next time.

    March 8, 2012 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  18. grahame rhodes

    Wrongful Indignation
    The gaebage these so called righteous religious bigots spout is that they want to control their version of morality based on a novel written several thousand years ago. If people want to live their lives as they wish then that is between them and their God, not a bunch of bible spouting Republicans hypocritical control freaks.

    March 8, 2012 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  19. Patrick

    Obama's smart to wait until the elections over to make any major move on gay marriage.

    March 8, 2012 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  20. Joi Gibson

    With respect to Mayor Villigiorosa (?), this should not be on the platform. Let's work on getting the President re-elected and then work through the issue. Simply put, if a Republican wins the presidency, it is all moot because you can bet your last dollar there will be a law banning same-sex marriage once and for all. So, let's re-elect the President and work from there. My goodness, let's not be like the Republicans and shoot ourselves in our feet over social issues that will only bring out the nasties. At least we know this president believes in equality.


    March 8, 2012 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  21. odannyt

    Same sex marriage is so unAmerican it is barth-some

    March 8, 2012 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  22. Norman G. Kirkendall

    It appears thousands of people don't read the bible where is says man shall not layth with man. It also says God provided Eve for Adam by taking one of Adam's ribs. The Bible does say things will keep getting worse until one day God will have to end it all. I agree with Kirk Cameron on it being unnatural as this is not what God intended.

    March 8, 2012 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  23. Larry L

    It's important for Democrats to avoid the trap the Republicans fell in regarding social issues. Republicans made themselves irrellevant by avoiding any real issues and spending their time talking about contraception, vaginal probes, and gay marriage. The voters want specifics on jobs, the deficit, the wars, taxes, nuclear proliferation, energy, and immigration. Hate and bigotry are a big part of the Republican Party's core values. Democrats don't want to allow them to make these issues important to the pragmatic, rational voters now being drawn to the Democratic Party – away from the Republican Clown Car.

    March 8, 2012 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  24. ugh

    More repulsive behavior from a repulsive administration....

    March 8, 2012 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  25. A. Goodwin

    I live in NH where same sex marriage is legal. And guess what – its much to do about NOTHING. For all the saber rattling that went on before the law was passed, after – not a big deal. I think most intelligent adults understand that same-sex marriage does not threaten heterosexual marriage. I have several gay friends, and would support them 100% if they decided to get married. And the revenue from marriage licenses, and the business it has brought to our state has been great. Those who use the religious beliefs as a way to defend DOMA or anti-gay platforms...forget we have this thing called seperation of church and state – something that has been grossly overlooked during the contraception talks. Get over it people...same-sex marriage will be legal someday. And if you do not like it, do not be gay and get married. End of story.

    March 8, 2012 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
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