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California Democrats urge DNC to adopt marriage equality platform

July 19, 2012|By Morgan Little
  • Bob Sodervick waves a gay pride flag outside of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, California following the court's decision not to rehear arguments on the Prop 8 gay marriage ban after overruling it.
Bob Sodervick waves a gay pride flag outside of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court… (Justin Sullivan / Getty…)

California Democrats are set to officially join the call for their party to include marriage equality on its convention platform, with a majority of the state’s Democratic congressional delegation already on board with the plan.

Thirty of the 34 delegates back the initiative, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and the state’s two U.S. senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. Their support will be expressed by a letter sent to the Democratic Party Platform Drafting Committee, asking for the party to support same-sex marriage in the platform.

In doing so, the California congressional delegation joins with a number of Democratic groups, ranging from state parties in Wisconsin, Texas and Pennsylvania, a group of former Democratic National Committee Chairs and a plethora of national and local advocacy organizations. The move has taken on added impetus since President Obama’s announcement in May that he personally backs same-sex marriage rights.

The letter calls for the drafting committee to assert support for the Respect for Marriage Act, the elimination of the Defense of Marriage Act and opposition to efforts to prevent or curtail the rights of same-sex couples.

“The Democratic Party has a noble history of fighting for the human and civil rights of all Americans,” it reads. “We, the undersigned, believe it is time for the Party to hold true for this record and add to the legacy by taking a stand in support of the freedom to marry for all loving and committed couples.”

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), a prominent supporter of gay rights, said in an interview that history is moving toward marriage equality, and that the Democratic Party should be on the right side of that shift.

Schiff, after a conversation with DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, said that she too supports the movement to include marriage equality, and is “increasingly confident” it will move forward.

Noting that an increasing number of members of the GOP are supporting same-sex marriage, Schiff said he would “like nothing more than for the GOP to have an equality plank” in the party’s platform. That seems highly unlikely given that unofficial nominee Mitt Romney and other party leaders disapprove of same-sex marriage.

Schiff dismissed concerns that such a platform would be detrimental to Obama’s reelection campaign.

“Given the president’s strong position, the campaign should recognize it only stands to gain” by supporting marriage equality, he said.

Pelosi, speaking after Obama came out in support of gay marriage, said his actions were “more important than any political consequences.”

“We came here to do a job for the American people, not to hold a job,” she said.

To make the change, the 15 voting members of the Platform Drafting Committee will have to agree with the delegation’s position. The committee includes Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who was the first member of Congress to publicly announce he was gay, and, on July 7, became the first member of Congress to enter into a same-sex marriage. Frank has yet to declare a position on adding marriage equality to the party’s platform.

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morgan.little@latimes.com

Twitter: @mlittledc

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