Analysis: Same-sex marriage trouble for the Democrats?
March 7th, 2012
06:50 PM ET
8 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

In battle of incumbents, Kucinich loses House seat in Ohio

Palin on open convention: Anything is possible

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

    Funny how having a hospital required to offer the option of using contraception is an attack on religion yet telling a church who they can and cannot marry is a moral imperative. If Dems reframe restrictions on marriage as an attack on religion where will the right stand?

    March 8, 2012 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  2. John B

    It's sad that no one will come forward and just do the right thing and let all American Adults have equal rights. is that really a concept that one needs to evolve to?

    March 8, 2012 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  3. Frank

    I think the Dems SHOULD put it on their platform, so people will know their true colors. It's just like Obama to hush it up until AFTER the election. They should put all their ideas on the platform.

    March 8, 2012 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  4. allens

    oh i don't know how the dems should handle same sex marriage. wait i have an idea, what about showing some spine and saying what you feel? lets try that. proof this countryt has politicians running things and not patriots

    March 8, 2012 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  5. Russell G.

    Mr. President, As a gay man, I think it a bad idea to put gay marriage as a platform, it's already on the legal run and will take care of itself in the next year or 2. This would provide a platform for the repugs. to fight against you and create another OMG the sky is falling scenario. which conservative fall for everytime . Remember Bush's re-election he use the challege of gay marriage heavely with te religious sector and won. If they can create enough fear in the state of cal. to defeat prop 8 they can do it nationwide. Right now they have nothing substancial to fight with. thats why they are pushing for higher gas prices. This would be giving them a platform to fight you on and probably win.

    March 8, 2012 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  6. Russell G.

    and joe voter, it is the governments obligation to protect the freedoms and rights of ALL Americans!

    March 8, 2012 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  7. Christopher

    My marriage to my husband isn't hurting anyone. We live our lives, pay our taxes, and follow the law, and in exchange, we expect just the tiniest bit of respect from our govenment. The Democrats, particularly the president who I deeply admire, need to grow a pair on this issue and catch up to more than half the public that believes in full equality for all Americans.

    March 8, 2012 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  8. Rudy NYC

    Taran wrote:

    It boils down to what does the constitution/law say. DOMA, marriage is between a man and a woman
    Good grief. DOMA is not part of the US Constitution, Taran. Here's the 1st clause of the 14th Amendment.

    "1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

    It says no state shall make or enforce any laws which shall abridge the priviliges or immunities of citizens of the US. Those priviliges were first defned in the 1st Amendement; pursuit of happiness, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, etc. DOMA is as unconstitutional as a law can get.

    March 8, 2012 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  9. Anonymous

    "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."

    Uh, first of all, many gay people, including me, cherish our faith and are active in our church communities. So I take issue with your characterization of us as "Godless." Secondly, places like Tennesee, Texas, Alabama and Georgia have the highest rates fo STD's, broken homes, and children born out of wedlock. Not exactly the most accepting of gay people. While Massachusets has the lowest divorce rate in the country. We need only look at the pedaphile crisis in the Catholic Church hierchy or the endless series of fundamentalist evangelical preachers caught in gay sexual affairs to know whose morals are "in the gutter."

    March 8, 2012 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  10. Puddin

    For the life of me, I just can't imagine seeing same sex couples greeting each other at the airport with hugs and kisses. I would be so embarassed to explain to my grandchildren what's with that. As far as I know, there is already a way for same sex couples to legally (by way of a will and medical directives) to appoint anyone they want to handle their affairs if and when they cannot. As far as an employer having to cover an employee's partner with health insurance, I'm not sure. I am just bewildered by the whole thing, and I don't know if it is a matter of choice or if they were born that way and they just can't help it. In any event, it is unfortunate and the better thing to do, in my opinion, no one needs to ANNOUNCE anything about their sexual preferance; not homosexuals nor heterosexuals.

    March 8, 2012 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  11. rosaadriana

    Who cares, I don't see how it is anyones business. Why is government regulation to protect people bad but government intrusion into our personal lives is OK. I don't think this is going to hurt Dems much.

    March 8, 2012 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  12. aperson

    ok, lets get everything strait here. the majority of americans don't like the idea of gay marraige, and i doubt it will come to a federal level to decide that. When you call someone gay they consider it an insult, so what does that tell you? and for those of you who are putting down the Bible morality, think of this, our country was founded with those beliefs in mind, so to dicuss our country involves that as a guide. and the only reason why the "majority" of americans whould even say they agree with gay marriage is because if they don't the public will label them as homophobic conservative jerks, even though that is not the case. Besides that, by legalizing gay marriage people will push for religion not to preach against it, which violates the first amendment. The basic point is gay marriage is going to remain a state issue, and hopefully my state won't go pro choice on it.

    March 8, 2012 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  13. NameMr

    Obama is a failure. Promises promises. He has done very little for the Lgbt community. This year is all about getting another term. He will throw the Lgbt community under the bus.

    March 8, 2012 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  14. Terry - Indiana

    My wife and I have been Republican Voters for over fifty years and we support gay marriage. In addition, we support a woman's right to make her own decisions on everything from healthcare to reproduction. I have read the Constitution of the United States numerous times and I cannot locate the "differences clause" which sets men and women, gays and straights, Blacks and Whites apart from one another. The Republican Party is becoming too "white and right" for me to accept everything as gospel when any candidate speaks. I fought next to Blacks, Hispanics, Latinos, Gays and Asians in Viet Nam, and I can honestly tell you that we all understood the mission, and we never once viewed each other as anything other than a fellow American. Some citizens of the United States have lost their perspective, not all, just some. Quit often, all of this hate based rhetoric is more than I can handle. Thank God for Netflix.

    March 8, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  15. GayConservative

    I'm gay but am in favor of civil unions rather than marriage. The liberal activists are painting anyone opposed to same-sex marriage as bigots (except of course their president). The irony is that leaders of these same groups 20 years ago were shaming gays that wanted marriage for trying to adopt a "heterosexual lifestyle"!

    March 8, 2012 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  16. Two and the door for House Republicans

    I don't think a church needs to be forced into conducting same sex marriages however, marriages are conducted everyday in courts and I think separation of church and state is still something we acknowledge in this country.

    March 8, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  17. nagrom

    Thank God tar and feathering are no longer acceptable practices. Santorum and company would be the leaders of the pack. It's still scary to be gay in America. So much hatred and vitriolic comments. The religious righteous who declare themselves to be religious and righteous spew the most venom of any group of people I have ever known. All in the name of Jesus. I never knew Jesus hated anyone. At least not the way I was taught. Catechism has certainly evolved from my day. Who made me? God made me. Why did God make me? Because God loves me. No longer exists.

    March 8, 2012 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  18. Donovan

    #1. Why is it that the party of "Less Government" (aka republican) is always the one trying to push these "Big Brother", "let's legislate your bedroom" laws?

    #2. The American masses are still mostly bigots ... just bigots of different races and creeds with different forms of bigotry. The American masses, as a nation, are not ready for LGBT marriage. While it is a civil liberty question, you will still have 60% against such measures. Only the SCOTUS will be able to protect the minority here ... and the SCOTUS is currently filled with republican activists.

    March 8, 2012 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  19. Steve

    Of course we all know that the Democrats have history on their side. Same-sex marriage is the right thing to do just like women voting and civil rights. Conservatives act like they are very afraid and are lashing out with nonsense to make their case.

    March 8, 2012 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  20. A True Centrist

    @Rudy: It says no state shall make or enforce any laws which shall abridge the priviliges or immunities of citizens of the US. Those priviliges were first defned in the 1st Amendement; pursuit of happiness, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, etc. DOMA is as unconstitutional as a law can get.

    Rudy...we don't agree on the failures of our President, as you have been blinded by the way he can read speeches written for him on a teleprompter, but we certainly agree on this. To deny two people the same privileges as two other people, just because they fall in love with someone of the same sex, is an injustice. The world has a lot of problems, we can all agree on that, and two people who love each other wanting to get married is not one of those problems.

    March 8, 2012 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  21. Primewonk

    Musings wrote, "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. "

    My fiance and I lived in Missouri 26 years ago.. We went back to Iowa and got married. When we drove back home to Missouri, we were still married in the eyes of Missouri law. A couple years later, we moved back to Iowa. We were still married in the eyes of the law. We didn't have to do a darn thing. 11 years later we moved to Washington State. Once agai, we were still married with lifting a finger. 2 years ago we moved to Indiana. We didn't have to do a single thing to prove we were married.

    Now, what happens with civil unions? Let's say that Musings is gay.. I guess you and your partner could go ahead and get "civil unioned" – well, unless you are in states like Texas, who amended their consti.tution to prohibit civil unions for gay people. So let's say you and your partner leave Texas and move to New Jersey. You get "civil unioned". A couple years later, your partner has in vitro and has a baby. She is your daughter too, but you are not allowed to have your name on the birth certificate – it's against the law. You also are not allowed to adopt her – again, that pesky law. A couple years later your happy family is on vacation in Texas. You want your partner and her parents to reconcile and meet their grandchild. Her parents kick all of you out of the house. As you drive away, distraught, you are in a terrible accident. Your partner is gravely injured and is flown to the large Baptist hospital. You try and get into the ICU to see her, but you are turned away. Remember, your relationship is illegal in Texas. And your partner's parents have told the hospital that if you try and see her, you are to be arrested. Back at the hotel there is a knock at the door. It's child protective services. They've come for your daughter. Remember, you couldn't adopt her. And your partner's parents have filed for immediate custody. Your partner in ICU dies. Alone. Afraid. And in pain. You didn't get a chance to tell her you loved her. You didn't get a chance to tell her goodby. You couldn't even go to the funeral. And you never get to see your daughter again.

    How's that "civil unioning" working for you now?

    March 8, 2012 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  22. Expat American

    Why shouldn’t gay couples be allowed to marry and pursue their own happiness in their lives as do heterosexual people? Many who oppose gay marriage quote the Bible in reinforcing their 'moral' argument. I’ve always believed the Bible was written as a guide by which to live one’s life and is open to the reader's personal interpretation. I am a Christian, I believe in God; but I don’t believe anyone ever walked on water or turned water into wine; and I want my gay (and straight) friends to be happy.

    March 8, 2012 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  23. dave

    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.

    Is it wrong to tell a Black man he can't use the white bathroom -Yes
    Is it wrong to tell a Black man he can't use the Ladies Room – No

    Is it wrong to tell any man he cannot be a wife? you tell me

    March 8, 2012 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  24. pat carr

    "For the life of me, I just can't imagine seeing same sex couples greeting each other at the airport with hugs and kisses. I would be so embarassed to explain to my grandchildren what's with that. As far as I know,"

    OMG that would be a CRISIS for you and your grandchildren wouldn't it? You might have to explain how some people of the same gender love and cherish each other. That would be so "difficult". You poor thing. Yes let's keep it unlawful and hidden so we don't have to put off people like Puddin.

    March 8, 2012 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  25. miamigrrrl

    Evolving = I don't have the ovaries to stand up and do what's right.

    March 8, 2012 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
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