Democrats said Monday their party's platform will support extending marriage rights to gay couples, marking the first time one of the two major parties has endorsed it.
Rep. Barney Frank, a member of the committee drawing up the platform, told several gay-themed publications that the draft document includes language backing gay marriage, and that it will remain in the platform his party will adopt at its convention in Charlotte in September.
"It will be in the platform," Mr. Frank, an openly gay member of Congress, told the Advocate magazine. "I am in favor of it being included and it will be included."
The move was confirmed to The Washington Times by a party source.
Republicans said adding that plank could put some Democrats in a difficult position back home, particularly in states such as North Carolina — where the party is holding its convention — and in Virginia, Montana and Missouri, where Democratic Senate candidates have declined to embrace gay marriage.
Though legislatures and courts in many states have extended the right to same-sex couples, voters have eventually rejected gay marriage in every state where it went to a referendum, and pro-family groups said the issue will hurt Democrats.
"Thirty-two out of 32 states where voters have weighed in on the issue have upheld marriage as the union of one man and one woman. If President Obama were to lose those 32 states, he would face an electoral debacle," said Peter Sprigg, senior fellow at the Family Research Council.
He said he expects the Republican platform to maintain its plank defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
Democrats' 2008 platform was silent on the issue, saying only that the party opposed the Defense of Marriage Act — signed into law by President Clinton — that defined marriage at the federal level as the union of a man and a woman.
President Obama had refused to defend DOMA in the courts, and earlier this year he officially reversed his position, saying he now supports same-sex marriage. But the White House was cautious in its response to the platform news.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest referred all questions to the Democratic National Committee.
"I haven't seen those reports," he told reporters at a briefing. "You know, the president's position on this view has been well-chronicled, shall we say. But in terms of specific reaction to the platform, I'd refer you to my colleagues at the DNC."
Neither Mr. Earnest nor Mr. Obama's campaign would say whether the president supports adding it as plank in the platform.
Democrats held hearings in Minnesota last week and added the plank to the draft. The final platform will be written at a meeting in Detroit, and will be approved by the convention in Charlotte.
Marc Solomon, national campaign director for Freedom to Marry, who testified to the platform committee, said including the plank made him proud.
"The Democratic Party has a noble history of fighting for the human and civil rights of all Americans," he said.
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