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. chris

    Obama just wants to table this and plenty of other decisions until after the election. If he's re-elected that's when he will complete his plan to ruin america.

    March 8, 2012 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  2. pat carr

    "It boils down to what does the constitution/law say. DOMA, marriage is between a man and a woman"

    DOMA has nothing to do with the constitution. it IS unconstitutional and should be abolished

    March 8, 2012 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  3. Lolo

    Only if the Christian right makes a stink over nothing as usual.

    March 8, 2012 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  4. JP Johnson

    "To those who say, my friends, to those who say, that we are rushing this issue of civil rights, I say to them we are 172 years (too) late! To those who say, this civil rights program is an infringement on states' rights, I say this: the time has arrived in America for the Democratic Party to get out of the shadow of states' rights and walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights!" – Hubert Humphrey in 1948...just as true now as it was then.

    March 8, 2012 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  5. dave

    If you are Gay and you want Rick Santorum to be President then you really should force this issue

    March 8, 2012 10:28 am at 10:28 am |

    Everytime I read an article about same-sex marriage, there is always the sentence "six states and the District of Columbia now have legal marriage". BIG WHOOP! What about the 30+ states that have passed legislation that outlaws same sex marriage in their state's constitutions? What about the vote coming up this spring in North Carolina that is the most extreme legislation against marriage to date? How's it going to look when the Dems come to Charlotte for their convention having this defeat staring them in the FACE? It will be way to late to add this to their platform THEN. The hate mongers that are working everyday to defeat same sex marriage are WINNING the battle and those who support it had better wake UP! Where the hell is the HRC when you need them? Oh, I know, they're planning their next GALA.

    March 8, 2012 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  7. PM Ohio you would rather descriminate against a group of people, than to have to explain something that you are embarrased about? Who hasn't seen displays of affection between same sex people in public anyway? Where do you live? i live in ultra-conservative Ohio and I see it all the time. I don't feel the need to explain it because it isn't a big deal. Grow up.

    March 8, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  8. Taran

    @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. As far as it being "unconstitutional," that is for the supreme court to decide, not you or I.

    March 8, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  9. SDN

    Same-sex marriage is trouble for those that have had life-long sexual and tolerance issues. The same individuals that believe they should be able to dictate their irrational values while waving the flag of 'individual freedoms'. Makes no sense to me either – I became comfortable with the concept of personal, private liberty long ago.

    March 8, 2012 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  10. Bonnie

    We need to see the BIG picture, people. It is obvious that we are living in the land of Sodom and Gomorrah and the land will soon reap exactly what it sowed. Almighty God, Himself, created the perfect design of the bonding between a man and a woman. Who is it that thinks so much of his or herself that they would question the integrity of the designs of Almighty God, who gave them their lives. God gives us free will to make our own choices; but the wrong choice leads to self destruction. Remember, it's not about hate or politics, it's about real love,honor and obedience to God.

    March 8, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  11. Herpdee

    First, we need an amendment banning gay marriage. Then one banning gay sex and sex outside of marriage.

    Then, we need to reinstate slavery, allow women to be traded as chattle to settle debts.

    Then we need to ban shell fish and pork.

    Then we need to build a temple and offer burnt offerings.

    Only then will our nation prosper.

    March 8, 2012 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  12. James Mason

    Let's be politically smart here people! The party platform is a campaign document – let's campaign on what's going to best move this issue forward – which probably isn't to put it front and center in the platform. Get the President re-elected with as many forward thinking folks as we can. This will take care of itself.

    March 8, 2012 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  13. akmac64

    Let the republicans pander to the religious right with their intrusive social issues. Don't fall in the trap of giving them ammunition. Phrase it as equal rights for all Americans and let the right expose themselves as the extremists they are. The LGBT's know the President has helped them already, even though more is needed.

    March 8, 2012 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  14. jim

    If you want to speed up evolution find out your child who is a fine human being can not have the same rights as straigt people who have marrages that they do not respect and when santorum was asked what if your son told you he was gay he replied i wouid love him the same i do not think his son would ever tell him he would either run away do drugs or drink or suiside please exuse the spelling i felt the need to send a comment

    March 8, 2012 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  15. Michael Q

    Grow up America. Quit this social religious crap. If all people are created equal, why would a progressive forward looking Country ever believe the motto, "All people are created equal except those who are different than me!" or whatever evil racial, religious, economical, cultural or moral belief system man has thrown out there over the years. America has become the last holdout of 'white supremacy' often defined as "my way or the highway" as spoken by the current GOP party. Grow up and be the mature person in the room. Let people love who they want to love, and share a life with whomever they please.

    March 8, 2012 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  16. pandaexpress

    Why push 'marriage' if the goal is to have the same medical decision rights, beneficiary rights, civil rights? Why not push for the right to designate whomever you want to participate in those life events with you? Why are not civil unions adequate to identifiy those designated to act for and with you? Why try to drag the church into the frey and force them to accommodate this acknowledgement? Why do people think that dragging religious doctrine into a debate will give weight to their claims? Take the civil union and work on your own church to see things your way. Leave the church out of government and government out of church.

    March 8, 2012 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  17. SDN

    Wow. The practical and the Constitutional vs the hoodoo and the embarrassed. These comments tell a fascinating tale.

    March 8, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  18. jb1963

    The choice is easy. If a republican wins they will try to end gay marriage if the democrats the gay still have a chance.

    March 8, 2012 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  19. Rsprings

    If the Left though same sex marriage was such a great idea they would add it to the platform and fight for it. The problem is most Americans democrats and republicans don't. Only the far left and gays are pushing it.. It will become for the Dems the same as contraception did for the Repubs.

    March 8, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  20. Primewonk

    Bonnie wrote, "Remember, it's not about hate or politics, it's about real love,honor and obedience to God."

    Remember, we are not a theocracy. Whatever your version of a god, or any version of god, wants, needs, desires, or demands, is irrelevant.

    If you want to live in a theocracy, move to one. If you try and set us up as one, be prepared for a bloodbath.

    March 8, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  21. Bill

    This is what liberals want. Separation between church and state until it suits their agenda to have the state run over the church.

    March 8, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  22. SDN

    I cannot fathom how confusion and controversy, hate and sorcery can be associated with 'equal rights'. I'm unaware of an "Equal Rights....except Amendment".

    March 8, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  23. Venturer

    I voted Republican for almost 50 years until 2008. I voted for Obama because I felt he woiuld be better than the GOP. Now I don't like the GOP candidates so would vote for Obama again. Except that now he is in favor of same-sex marriage, which I am against. Legal rights are OK, but "marriage" is not. So since I can't agree for either party, I will probably stay home on election day. Unfortunately.

    March 8, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  24. Anonymous

    I care about the economy. I don't care who can marry who. Last I checked it's still a free country despite what the Republicans would like to impose. I'm voting for Obama.

    March 8, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  25. SDN

    bill: It may or may not be what 'the liberals' want. It is what the Constitution demands.

    March 8, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
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