- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 8, 2005

Massachusetts Democrats are preparing to endorse same-sex “marriage” in their party platform this week, reopening a bitter split among national party leaders, some of whom fear the issue will hurt their campaign to win back majority status in Congress.

State Democrats plan to embrace same-sex “marriage” at their party convention Saturday, despite deep disagreement over the issue between the state’s two U.S. senators, an arms-length posture by the national party, and a public backlash against it that has spawned a political movement to ban it in state law and at the federal level in the U.S. Constitution.

Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts — the party’s 2004 presidential nominee, who opposes same-sex “marriage,” but favors state-sanctioned civil unions — lashed out at his party’s plans Thursday during an appearance in Baton Rouge, La., suggesting that it could only further alienate swing voters.

“I’m opposed to it being in a platform. I think it’s a mistake,” Mr. Kerry told the Boston Globe. “I think it’s the wrong thing, and I’m not sure it reflects the broad view of the Democratic Party in our state. I’m opposed to gay marriage. I support partnerships and civil unions.”

But a spokesman for the state’s senior senator, Edward M. Kennedy, said soon after Mr. Kerry’s remarks that Mr. Kennedy wholeheartedly backed the proposed platform plank.

However, that is not the position of the Democratic National Committee, whose chairman, Howard Dean of Vermont, helped enact civil unions in his state as governor.

“We’ve been saying that state parties have every right to establish their own party platform and several states’ views differ on that from the national party,” DNC spokeswoman Laura Gross said. “The national party platform supports civil unions. Governor Dean supports the national party platform.”

Actually, the platform, approved in July at the DNC’s national convention in Boston, does not specifically mention civil unions, but instead says: “We support full inclusion of gay and lesbian families in the life of our nation and seek equal responsibilities, benefits and protections for these families.”

It also says that marriage “should continue to be defined” at the state level and that the party is opposed to a “federal marriage amendment” in the U.S. Constitution.

Massachusetts is the only state that has legalized civil marriage for same-sex couples, although Democratic parties in New York, Washington state and California have passed resolutions endorsing it.

But in a sweeping backlash that became a prominent political issue in last year’s elections, voters in 18 states have since passed constitutional bans on same-sex “marriage” and 24 states have passed laws defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Massachusetts Democratic Party Chairman Philip W. Johnston said last week that he does not expect “any serious debate” about the marriage platform plank when the party’s 3,000 delegates gather in Lowell on Saturday and that it will be easily adopted.

Even so, the issue has stirred dissent among state party officials.

“I really think that the Democratic party does itself a disservice when it takes on these issues. Frankly, there’s a lot of Democrats that are opposed to gay marriage,” Democratic state Sen. Steven Panagiotakos told the Lowell Sun.

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