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Democratic Party Poised to Support Gay Marriage on Platform

The Democratic party is following the example of its leader, President Obama, and is about to endorse same-sex marriage as part of its party platform. Since Obama in May became the first sitting president to declare that gays and lesbians should be able to marry, he put the issue squarely on the national agenda, prompting debate and soul searching across the country, from suburban households to the pulpit of the black church.

According to the New York Times, Democrats held a platform-drafting meeting over the weekend in Minneapolis and approved the first step to amend their platform, placing the amendment on track for adoption. In two weeks, the entire platform committee will vote at a meeting scheduled in Detroit. Then, if approved as expected, it would go before convention delegates in Charlotte, N.C., for final passage in early September.According to Democrats who were briefed on the vote in Minneapolis, there was no objection when the issue came up. Though the language that was voted on could still be revised, party officials do not anticipate any major obstacles going forward.Not only did the platform committee approve the same-sex marriage language, they also reiterated the party’s disapproval of the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits the federal government from recognizing legal same-sex marriages. The 2008 platform had a similar section.The Democrats would become the first major party to embrace same-sex marriage. But as historic as the platform would be, the president’s position makes it a bit less controversial.

Gay rights supporters praised the Democratic Party’s move.

“Like Americans from all walks of life, the Democratic Party has recognized that committed and loving gay and lesbian couples deserve the right to have their relationships respected as equal under the law,” said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign. “I believe that one day very soon the platforms of both major parties will include similar language on this issue.”

The Democratic Party platform that was drafted four years ago, when Obama was first running for president, called for “full inclusion of all families, including same-sex couples, in the life of our nation” and supported “equal responsibility, benefits and protections.”

But the platform stopped short of endorsing same-sex marriages, in part because Obama had said he remained opposed.

Despite the growing acceptance of same-sex marriage, the issue remains a difficult one for some Democrats, particularly those in the midst of hard-fought reelection campaigns in conservative-leaning states. It has also roiled the black community—particularly the black church—and upset many African Americans who were previously firm supporters of the president.

And while an increasing number of Republicans are coming around to support marriage rights for gays and lesbians, the Republican Party as an institution is still far from declaring marriage is for anyone but heterosexuals.

Peter Sprigg, a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, predicted that Democrats would regret their decision to include the marriage plank in their platform. “I think this is more politically correct than it is politically smart,” he said.

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