Over the weekend, Democrats set wheels in motion to endorse a pro-samesex marriage plank for the summer’s National Convention party platform, something that has long been lobbied by LGBT supporters and honorary gays like the DNC chair, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman (D-Florida), whose 20th Congressional District encompasses a high concentration of LGBT residents and gay neighborhoods, including Wilton Manors.
Although marriage equality is a hotbutton issue on the state level, both major parties have steered clear of making it the central issue of the 2012 presidential campaign, with good reason: Republicans are scared of being labeled exclusionary or, worse, homophobic, and Democrats are nervous about getting tagged as provoking a culture war, and as of Monday, neither Democratic Party mandarins nor the Obama campaign wanted to talk about it.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest was equally tight-lipped, declining to comment during Monday’s press briefing. “The president’s position on this view has been well-chronicled, shall we say,” Earnest said. “But in terms of a specific reaction to the platform, I’d refer you to my colleagues at the DNC.”
There wasn’t much forthcoming from the Obama campaign, either. “The president’s personal views on marriage equality are known,” spokeswoman Clo Ewing said, stating the obvious and repeating a statement the campaign made last week, before the 15 members of the DNC platform draft committee met. “The president and the party are committed to crafting a platform that reflects the president’s positions and the values of the party.”
In Fort Lauderdale, Broward County Property Appraiser Lori Parrish applauded the DNC move. “’Equal rights’ means equal rights for all,” Parrish, who celebrates her own 25th wedding anniversary tomorrow, told the Agenda. “Most of the gay couples I know have been together longer than Geoff and I have,” she added, noting also that in America, marriage is more than about a commitment ceremony. “Families should be treated equally when it comes to social security, pensions,” and other considerations possessing legal status, Parrish said.
Openly-gay former Wilton Manors Vice Mayor Justin Flippen called it “Encouraging news,” adding that, “as an official voting delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention, I am pleased to see that the party of the people has moved towards a party platform of equality for all the people of the United States of America.”
In Miami-Dade County, North Miami City Councilman Scott Galvin and other openly-gay officials expressed support for Democrats taking the lead. “I’m thrilled to see my party leading the way,” Galvin told the Agenda. “The day is near when people will be surprised that such protections weren’t there all along. The Democrats get to call ‘first!’”
Six states have legalized same-sex marriage, and several others have ballot measures on the issue this fall. Although recognition of marriage equality is viewed as a boost to the Democrats’ efforts to energize the base, and pump up fundraising in the LGBT community, there are many voters—including many Democrats and independents in swing states—that remain opposed.
Former U.S. Rep. Travis Childers, a Mississippi Democrat unseated during the 2010 Tea Party fad, said that center-right “Blue Dog” Democrats like himself have misgivings about a pro-gay marriage plank. “It is not something that I would agree with, that part of the platform,” Childers said after Monday’s announcement. “I think the conservative Democrats, especially in the South—a great number will disagree with that.”
Opponents of marriage equality were more to the point. “They can kiss the presidential election, the House, and now the Senate goodbye,” said Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage. Although Brown concedes that gay donors and other contributors of a more progressive leaning may open their checkbooks as a result of the DNC plank, he predicts that “at the end of the day, San Francisco and Hollywood don’t elect the President of the United States.”