WASHINGTON — An unexpected surge in support to place same-sex marriage on the Democratic Party platform at the August convention has energized LGBT advocates and complicated an already delicate situation facing President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign.
In the past month, almost half of all Democratic senators, several of Obama’s national campaign co-chairs, the House Minority Leader and the chairman of the Democratic convention, among others, have said they support adding marriage equality to the platform. Were this the position that the president held, such proclamations would not be a problem. But Obama says he is still publicly “evolving” on marriage equality. And the wave of support to make it a component of his convention has both surprised aides and set off a private push to keep emotions and expectations in check.
Interviews with more than a dozen party officials and activists reveal that despitewidespread and growing support for marriage equality among Americans, the issue is still viewed as politically sensitive in the top ranks of the Democratic Party. While many high-profile figures have publicly advocated for including strong language in the platform, the Obama campaign and the allied Democratic National Committee are searching for ways to split the difference: showing support for equality but stopping short of a full-fledged endorsement.
Publicly, this friction has yet to surface. During a conference call with reporters on March 7, Obama Campaign Manager Jim Messina avoided the matter, saying that all decisions would be made by the convention’s platform committee, whose members had yet to even be chosen.
“There’s a process,” he said, “and the DNC will go through that, and we will have a platform.”
Behind the scenes, however, there are concerns that expectations surrounding the platform’s language are moving beyond electoral feasibility. Those concerns peaked when Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D), who is the chair of the convention, responded affirmatively when asked whether he thought the platform “should have a marriage equality plank.”
“I do,” he replied. “I think it’s basic to who we are. … I don’t think the government should be in that business of denying people the fundamental right to marry.
News Source: HuffPost