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Democrats draft marriage equality and zero in on employment non-discrimination language in party platform

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.”

That is a snippet of the landmark language approved by the Democratic Platform Drafting Committee related to support for the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry. Buzzfeed has obtained and released the full draft statement, which still needs to be given the thumbs up by the full Platform Committee at its meeting this weekend in Detroit.

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.

Before you get all excited, if adopted at this level, the convention delegates will still have to approve this language in Charlotte.

Reaction from Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin:

“Marriage equality has quickly become a mainstream American value and it’s a sign of the times that the Democratic Party has included language affirming the ability of gays and lesbians to marry in its draft platform. We encourage the Platform Committee and the delegates to the convention to adopt this strong statement that all loving and committed American families deserve equal treatment.”

Yes, it is big news, and I’m sure it will anger the usual suspects. This will formalize into the party’s mainstream that marriage equality is the default expectation for a Democrat running for office, and for those unwilling to take this stand publicly, they will have to explain and justify their opposition to it. Adopting this ensures that the issue doesn’t get swept under the rug, which it has been for years in states where spineless pols try mightily to dodge taking any position on this civil rights issue. 

That said, everyone, pro and con, knows the final word on civil marriage equality will come via the U.S. Supreme Court. That means we’ll have to deal with the ongoing patchwork, state-by-state crap to obtain marriage rights and responsibilities until that time, even if the federal Defense of Marriage Act eventually falls. In every civil rights struggle, those oppressed in conservative states will get nada until the high court forces the bigots to relent.

As I’ve always stressed on the Blend, marriage equality is a goal for the movement, but personally, I’ve always felt that employment non-discrimination legislation should be the highest priority for LGBTs.  The political rubber really hits the road when we’re protected from being fired for being LGBT, which is still the case for more than half of the states in the U.S.. That affects so many more people directly on a day-to-day bases, and obtaining those protections allows people to come out of the closet to advocate for their rights. Chris Geidner at Buzzfeed also obtained the draft language relating to workplace protections:

We know that putting America back to work is job one, and we are committed to ensuring Americans do not face employment discrimination. We support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act because people should not be fired based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Now we just have to stop Mittens from getting the keys to the White House and regain control of the House and gain seats in the Senate. That’s a tall order, since when Obama had majorities, he frittered away the window to pass ENDA, and LGBT groups were not ready to fight that fight either – the focus (reluctantly, but successfully in the end) went to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding