Inside Politics: Hirono to battle Lingle for open seat in Senate from Hawaii

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The committee, meeting in downtown Detroit, let stand the work of a separate group that drafted the platform two weeks ago in Minneapolis. The platform is a broad statement of the party’s priorities on the economy, social issues and national defense and goes to the national convention in North Carolina in September.

Scott Dibble, a committee member and a state senator from Minnesota, said support for gay marriage can attract new voters.

“Young people are looking for a political home right now. This has become a defining moral question of our time,” said Mr. Dibble, who is gay.

The platform says Democrats support “marriage equality” and 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,” the platform says.

In May, President Obama said he personally supported gay marriage.

“This certainly has been a journey for many people in this country, a journey for our president,” Mr. Dibble told fellow committee members from across the country.

The platform also calls for repeal of 1996 legislation, signed by President Clinton, that recognizes marriage as between a man and woman. Some federal courts have struck down the law as unconstitutional.

Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker, co-chairman of the platform committee, said “profound indignities” are heaped on people who can’t marry someone of the same sex.

EDUCATION

Schools offered a chance at million-dollar grants

Hoping to build on state-level reforms aimed at closing the education achievement gap, the Education Department opened its Race to the Top competition to school districts Sunday, inviting the most impoverished districts across the country to vie for almost $400 million in grants.

After four months of public comment on a draft proposal, the Education Department announced its final criteria for the district-level competition, which will award 15 to 25 grants to districts that have at least 2,000 students and 40 percent or more who qualify for free or reduced-cost lunches — a key poverty indicator.

Grants will range from $5 million to $40 million, depending on the size of the district.

“We want to help schools become engines of innovation through personalized learning so that every child in America can receive the world-class public education they deserve,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a statement.

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