A committee for the Democratic Party approved in a unanimous vote on Sunday the inclusion of marriage equality in the draft party platform, among other LGBT rights-affirming positions.
Retiring gay Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who sits on the committee, told the Washington Blade on Monday that the 15-member panel unanimously backed the inclusion of a marriage equality plank after a national hearing over the weekend in Minneapolis, in which several witnesses testified in favor of such language.
“I was part of a unanimous decision to include it,” Frank said. “There was a unanimous decision in the drafting committee to include it in the platform, which I supported, but everybody was for it.”
A DNC staffer, who is familiar with the process and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the language in the platform approved on Sunday not only backs marriage equality, but also rejects DOMA and has positive language with regard to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. The exact wording of the language wasn’t immediately available.
Why is this big news?
While individual Democratic lawmakers have made absolutely no secret of their opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act and, some of them, their support for marriage equality itself, the official party platform has maintained that the party supports marriage as being solely between a man and a woman.
The move to change the language is not unprecedented however. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, speaking earlier this year in response to the “Say I Do” Freedom to Marry campaign, said she supported making marriage equality an official part of the party’s ethos.
There is also the fact, of course, that President Obama has very openly and very firmly said he now supports marriage equality.
However, there are those in the Democratic Party that, while agreeing with the consensus that the federal Defense of Marriage Act should be repealed, do not support same-sex marriage. If the Democratic Party were to adopt this rumoured new language it may also put pressure on more conservative members, potentially creating divisions in the party.
The language, along with the rest of the platform, must yet be finalized during a Detroit, Michigan, meeting in August, and then ratified in September in Charlotte. However, with this unanimous backing it would seem there is strong support behind what a majority of Americans say they already agree on: that allowing same-sex couples equal access to the rights of marriage is a fundamental matter of fairness.