Greg has been reporting recently on a fascinating issue: how Democrats will handle same-sex marriage in their 2012 party platform. The general sense has been that Barack Obama is lagging behind his party on this issue, and that it’ll be hard for him to block a marriage equality plank without angering core Dem voters.
That may be true. But if so, he may have company: Dem candidates for the U. S. Senate also are generally avoiding or downplaying the issue, at least if their campaign web sites are any guide.
For the first time, some polls show majority support for gay marriage. But if this is any guide, Democrats are still being extraordinarily about an issue they seem to think can still backfire on them.
The web sites of the 10 Democratic candidates running as challengers or for open seats show that very few of these candidates are eager to jump on this particular bandwagon. Only two — Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts and Chris Murphy in Connecticut — trumpet their support for marriage equality and for repealing the Defense Of Marriage Act. To be sure, none of the other six openly opposes the issue. They’re just not mentioning it. What’s particularly interesting is that neither candidate in the two strongly contested nominations, in Hawaii and New Mexico, included support of marriage equality as part of an effort to court liberal activists.
A quick caveat: it’s certainly possible that these candidates have made public commitments on DOMA or on the general issue of same-sex marriage that simply aren’t on their campaign web sites (some of which are still developing). But this is precisely the point: What I’m looking at here is whether the candidates want people to hear about the issue. The Web sites are a good guide to that.
I’m not surprised that Tim Kaine in Virginia isn’t eager to talk about the issue, although it’s worth noting that he actually has one of the strongest civil rights sections, including sexual orientation, of any candidate. But I am a little surprised that so few of the others are reluctant to discuss it, especially those competing in tough primaries.
Dem candidates may no longer be able to oppose marriage equality, but they are still reluctant to run on it — another sign that many Democratic politicians, like the president himself, are still evolving on the issue.