Democrats are doing a delicate dance as they attempt to embrace gay rights but not necessarily gay marriage. Nearly 42% of Democratic convention delegates interviewed by the Associated Press said they support gay marriage. But 21% are against it, and around 38% said their feelings either didn't fit into a "for" or an "against" category or they declined to answer the question.
Draft language in the Democratic Party platform being considered Monday stopped short of endorsing gay marriage but supported "equal responsibilities, benefits, and protections" for gay and lesbian families. That is consistent with the stance of the party's presidential candidate, Sen. John Kerry, who opposes legal recognition of gay marriage but supports legal recognition of same-sex civil unions.
Jeffrey Soref, chairman of the Democratic Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Caucus, said he wasn't upset by Kerry's stance on the gay marriage issue or the fact that both Kerry and his running mate, Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, skipped the vote in the Senate concerning the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. "First of all, the Senate vote was a procedural vote. It wasn't a vote on the issue itself," Soref said. "I think the campaign felt that if the Republicans want to tie up the Democratic ticket with endless procedural votes, they would have Kerry and Edwards on the floor voting all the time. It's a diversion from going on and talking about real issues. They said that if the amendment itself came to a vote, they would be there."
Soref told caucus members that they probably wouldn't be able to bring signs into the convention center supporting gay marriage, for security reasons, but he also mentioned that "the campaign wants to get a consistent message out."
Caucus member and New York delegate Chris Digiorgio said he was considering wearing a T-shirt with a pro-gay marriage message on it. "We are all adults here. We can have a disagreement," he said. Singer Carole King, making a cameo appearance at the caucus meeting, urged members to mobilize voters for the Kerry-Edwards ticket despite differences on gay marriage. "I know John Kerry, and I agree with a lot of things that he believes. I cannot agree with his stance on gay marriage," said King, whose comments were met with hearty applause. "I think he will eventually come to where we are on this issue."