By Elizabeth Warren |
The unanimous vote to include marriage for same-sex couples in this year's national Democratic Party platform draft was historic and groundbreaking. It is a recognition of the love and commitment that so many gay and lesbian couples have for one another, and the importance of ending their exclusion from marriage, which honors and protects that commitment. It is also confirmation of the trends and momentum we are seeing throughout America: that support is growing rapidly and that backing the freedom to marry is not only the right thing to do, but the politically advantageous thing to do.
Over the past several years, the growth in support nationwide has been at historically unprecedented levels. A May 2012 CNN/ORC International poll shows that today, a full 54 percent of Americans, including 70 percent of Democrats, 60 percent of independents, and 73 percent of voters between 18 and 34, all support marriage for gay and lesbian couples.
Political professionals agree. According to the National Journal Political Insiders Poll a year ago, 84 percent of Democratic operatives said their party should embrace same-sex marriage. I'm sure it's nearing 100 percent today. In the words of one political consultant: "It's going to happen. We might as well start to lead."
When Freedom to Marry launched its "I Do" campaign to organize citizens and Democratic leaders alike to support the plank initiative, it tapped into a groundswell of support. Immediately, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire signed up, followed by dozens of members of Congress, four former DNC party chairs, Caroline Kennedy, and more than 40,000 Americans.
Democratic electeds have seen the rightness of the cause, as well as the political benefit of standing strongly for the freedom to marry. Governors like New York's Andrew Cuomo, Massachusetts's Deval Patrick, Washington's Chris Gregoire, Maryland's Martin O'Malley, and New Hampshire's John Lynch have championed freedom to marry laws in their states and have experienced the strongly positive results of that work.
And now more than 250 Democratic mayors, from Juneau to Tallahassee, actively support marriage for same-sex couples, as do 170 Democratic members of Congress who have cosponsored the bill to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act that denies thousands of federal protections to legally married same-sex couples.
It always takes courage to take a major step forward on a crucial social issue. We thank the party for its leadership and urge it to complete this job in Charlotte this September. It represents an excellent opportunity to do well by doing good.
About Marc Solomon National Campaign Director of Freedom to Marry
Ford O'Connell Republican Strategist, Conservative Activist, and Political Analyst
Zerlina Maxwell Democratic Strategist and Writer
Stacey Long Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
Peter Sprigg Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at the Family Research Council