Is This the Year Democrats Embrace Marriage Equality?

This could be the year Democrats officially embrace marriage equality.

BY Michelle Garcia

April 22 2012 4:00 AM ET

As this summer’s Democratic National Convention approaches, all eyes are on party leaders to see whether this will be the year Democrats go all in for marriage.

In 2012 nearly 200 American mayors, including convention chairman and Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and several Democratic leaders, including House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, have said the party should lead on this issue rather than trail the electorate, who, according to many polls, approve of marriage rights for all Americans. While President Obama remains mum on this question, Freedom to Marry is asking voters to push Democratic leaders and the president’s reelection campaign to include marriage equality in the party platform with its Democrats: Say I Do crusade.

The Democratic platform in 2008 was then considered the most LGBT-friendly major party platform ever. Though it did not explicitly call for marriage equality, the party established its support for repealing the Defense of Marriage Act, passing antidiscrimination laws, reversing “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and instituting LGBT-inclusive hate-crimes prevention policies.

Four years later, though civil unions and domestic partnerships are available to many same-sex couples, numerous studies show that these arrangements fail to provide the same legal and societal benefits as marriage. Since the 2008 platform was introduced at the Democratic convention in Denver, the states of Washington, New York, New Hampshire, Maryland, Iowa, Connecticut, and Vermont, and the District of Columbia, have enacted marriage equality, either legislatively or through the courts. The repeal of marriage equality in California via Proposition 8 and subsequent legal battle over the repeal has been eye-opening to many Democrats, who wonder if even one of the bluest states can rescind civil rights granted to its citizens, isn’t federal protection needed?

Marc Solomon of Freedom to Marry says this would be the perfect time for Democrats to step up and lead on the issue; he cites the polling indicating that 69% of registered Democrats support marriage equality. He added that a bill to federally recognize same-sex marriages has had unprecedented support in Congress.

“The Democrats traditionally lead on civil rights,” Solomon says. The party will likely not finalize the platform until its convention in September in Charlotte, N.C., but Solomon is confident. “I’m a huge believer that we can get this done.”


See the Democrats who have officially signed on with Freedom To Marry's proposal, or have openly expressed the need to get marriage equality on the party's platform.  

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