The Washington Blade scoops that Democrats have taken a first step towards approving language for a pro-marriage equality plank in the Democratic party platform at the convention this summer. The Blade reports that the language will also condemn the Defense of Marriage Act and will also say positive things about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation by federal contractors.
A Democratic source confirms to me that the information in the Blade story is accurate. This is the first step in the platform process; the platform drafting committee met over the weekend and approved the preliminary language, which will soon go to the convention delegates in Charlotte for final approval.
It’s unlikely that the committee would have taken this first step unless it was all but certain that the final platform would contain language along these lines.
In one sense this is not that unexpected; after all, the nation’s top Democrat, President Barack Obama, recently came out for marriage equality after publicly equivocating over the issue for some time. But in a way, this is exactly the point: Obama’s declaration of support for gay marriage — which came after considerable pressure from Obama’s left — has paved the way for it to be a no-brainer that full equality for gay and lesbian Americans is written into the Democratic Party’s platform. That is an important breakthrough.
As you may recall, the question over whether marriage equality should be written into the platform was a hotly debated one among Democrats only a few months ago. Some fretted that the push for inclusion of the language would put undo pressure on Obama to evolve on the issue. Others argued that an official Democratic Party embrace of gay marriage risked alienating culturally conservative swing voters. But now it looks as if this is well on its way to being settled. Which means the Democratic Party will be taking another official step towards standing up for the rights of another group who continues to suffer legalized discrimination. And we’ll find out if affirming the humanity of gay and lesbian Americans is really the grave political risk many have claimed it to be.