CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Delegates to the Democratic National Convention approved their platform on Tuesday evening, Sept. 4. By voice vote, Democrats became the first major political party to include support for full marriage rights for same-sex couples.
News of the marriage plank's inclusion in draft versions of the platform earned praise from LGBT community members in the weeks preceding the event. The plank, which calls Democrats to "support the movement to secure equal treatment under law for same-sex couples" also seeks to balance concerns from some religious organizations that they might be somehow forced to perform same-sex weddings.
"We also support the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference," the plank reads.
Jason Bailey (L) and his partner, West Virginia delegate Scott King
(Photo by David Lari/QNotes )
Scott King, a gay delegate from Charleston, W.Va., said the platform's inclusion of a marriage-equality plank was historic.
"It makes it a great day for us," he said. "Four years ago, when I was a delegate in Denver, I did not think [there] was any chance that we could make this much progress in four years."
The plank's adoption comes as debates on marriage continue to result in amendment and other referendum campaigns in the states. In May, North Carolina became the latest state to adopt an anti-LGBT state constitutional amendment restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples only. Minnesota faces a similar amendment this fall, when Maine voters will also decide whether or not to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. Voters in Maryland will also have their say in November. Lawmakers there passed a civil marriage bill in March, opening marriage to same-sex couples in January 2013. Maryland voters will have the opportunity to uphold the law or scrap it before it takes effect.
Other LGBT issues are also included in the platform. On health care, the platform calls for ''reducing HIV incidence, increasing access to care, optimizing health outcomes, and reducing HIV-related health disparities.'' Internationally, Democrats reiterated their support of President Barack Obama and his administration's pledge to combat efforts by other nations to criminalize or direct violence toward LGBT individuals.
The platform also calls for the implementation of anti-bullying efforts to protect LGBT youth and reiterates its support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
The full text of the marriage plank reads: "We support the right of all families to have equal respect, responsibilities, and protections under the law. We support marriage equality and support the movement to secure equal treatment under law for same-sex couples. We also support the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference.
"We oppose discriminatory federal and state constitutional amendments and other attempts to deny equal protection of the laws to committed same-sex couples who seek the same respect and responsibilities as other married couples. We support the full repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act."
James Nichols/QNotes, contributed to this report.
Democratic National Convention coverage provided by Metro Weekly and QNotes, the leading LGBT community newspaper of North Carolina, based in Charlotte.