- - Sunday, September 2, 2012

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Eight years after Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California said the push for legalizing gay marriage was “too much, too fast, too soon,” the Democratic Party will make history Tuesday when it is expected to be the first major party to endorse gay marriage in its platform.

While the plank packs no legal power, it marks a cultural milestone.

“Another important societal cue that things are shifting,” said Amy Simon, an Oakland pollster who is working for advocates who want to legalize gay marriage in Maine and Washington. “As people are working through their conflicting feelings on this, they’re looking for cues and this is another one.”

The platform declaration could spark political consequences, and one of the nation’s leading opponents of gay marriage already is trying to make it an issue in pivotal swing states that have passed laws codifying marriage as a union of one man and one woman.

“By doing this, the Democratic Party is basically telling voters in places like North Carolina and Florida that they’re a bunch of bigots,” said Sacramento consultant Frank Schubert, the strategist behind California’s Proposition 8 and similar campaigns to bar gay unions in four states where marriage is on the ballot in November. The National Organization for Marriage began airing radio ads last week in North Carolina, targeting religious blacks.

But analysts and pollsters say the issue is unlikely to be as volatile or powerful as it was in 2004, when 11 states put same-sex marriage bans on ballots after then-San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom approved issuing wedding licenses to gay couples. Public support has grown since then, and now an average of 50 percent of Americans support it, according to polls.

CAMPAIGN

Romney’s nomination speech noted for no mention of war

With America embroiled in its longest armed conflict, Mitt Romney became the first Republican since 1952 to accept his party’s nomination without mentioning war.

In the third election cycle after the 2001 terrorist attacks, neither Mr. Romney nor his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, had anything to say about terrorism or war while on the party’s biggest stage Thursday. Clint Eastwood won cheers for suggesting invading Afghanistan was a mistake.

The Romney strategy reflects the weak public support for the Afghanistan War, fatigue over a decade of terrorism fears and the central role of the economy in the campaign. But it was still a remarkable shift in tone for a party that, even in times of peace, has used the specter of war to call for greater military spending and tough foreign policy.

WHITE HOUSE

Beer recipes released as Obama stumps in Iowa

Beer lovers, the secret is out.

The White House has made public the recipe for two homemade beers that have become an object of fascination for drinkers everywhere.

White House Honey Brown Ale, believed to be the first beer brewed on the White House grounds, includes light malt extract, amber crystal malt, honey, gypsum, yeast and corn sugar.

The recipe was released Saturday while President Obama was campaigning in Iowa.

Mr. Obama has been talking about the White House brew for weeks, but he and other officials had refused to disclose details of how it’s made, despite an online petition and repeated questions from reporters. Mr. Obama even took a question on the beer recipe during a chat on the website Reddit.

Mr. Obama and his team frequently talk about the president’s fondness for beer, and Mr. Obama has been photographed many times downing a beer, including during an appearance at the Iowa State Fair last month.

Being identified as a beer drinker is an easy way for Mr. Obama to connect with voters and serves as a not-so-subtle reminder that his Republican rival Mitt Romney, a Mormon, doesn’t drink.

Mr. Obama even held a “beer summit” after a white police sergeant arrested black Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates as he tried to get into his own home.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney announced the beer recipe on Twitter, linking to a blog post entitled “Ale to the Chief” that included a video on the brewing process. The White House was careful to say the president paid for the materials used in the beer-making himself.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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