This week, Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz told PGN in an interview that she expects marriage equality to be a part of the national platform.
While she noted that the platform and its development is a “people-powered process” and therefore not a sure thing, she also noted that President Obama has voiced his support for same-sex marriage, paving the way for the party to follow suit.
In 2008, the Democratic platform included the LGBT community, supporting the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” opposing the Defense of Marriage Act and supporting the “full inclusion of all families, including same-sex couples, in the life of our nation, and support equal responsibility, benefits and protections.” The platform also committed to enacting a “comprehensive bipartisan employment non-discrimination act.”
Though not comprehensive by any measure, the 2008 platform was a marked improvement from the 2004 platform. By 2008, the Democrats were comfortable including the words “same-sex couples,” even if the platform doesn’t specify what “equal responsibility, benefits and protections” might entail. That platform also committed to fighting to end discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, the latter of which is particularly notable given the defeated efforts to pass a trans-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act in the House in 2007, in favor of a non-trans-inclusive ENDA bill (which has never passed the Senate).
In 2004, the Democratic platform committed to enacting “bipartisan legislation to ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation” — with no mention of gender identity. That year, the DNC platform also opposed President Bush’s efforts to pass a Federal Marriage Amendment, which would have defined marriage as between one man and one woman in the Constitution. It also said marriage should be defined at the state level, which, given that is no longer a topic of debate, shows how much progress on marriage equality has been made.
It’s interesting to note how slow progress has been at the major parties. As far back as 2000, the Green Party supported marriage equality for same-sex couples — four years before Massachusetts became the first state to legalize gay marriage.
And while movement on marriage is certainly welcome to same-sex couples — and those who might want to marry someday — it’s arguably more important to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which will provide necessary workplace protections to more people.