¶Democrats appear ready to embrace same-sex marriage as part of their party platform, a policy shift that reflects the rapidly growing acceptance of gay rights in mainstream politics.
¶Party officials met over the weekend in Minneapolis and approved the first step to amend their platform. In two weeks, the entire platform committee will vote on the matter at a meeting scheduled in Detroit. Then, if approved as expected, it would move on to convention delegates in Charlotte, N.C., for final approval in September.
¶According to Democrats who were briefed on the vote in Minneapolis, there was no objection when the issue came up. Though the language that was voted on still could be revised, party officials do not anticipate any major obstacles going forward.
¶The platform language approved over the weekend also included a condemnation of the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits the federal government from recognizing legal same-sex marriages.
¶The Democratic Party’s move comes more than two months after President Obama personally backed the rights of same-sex couples to wed, making the action decidedly less controversial than it could have been had the party been in conflict with its leader.
¶The president’s reversal — he had said previously that while he could not support same-sex marriage, his views on the issue were “evolving” — was a significant move. No sitting president had ever before said that gays and lesbians should have a legal right to marry.
¶Gay rights supporters praised the Democratic Party vote. “Like Americans from all walks of life, the Democratic Party has recognized that committed and loving gay and lesbian couples deserve the right to have their relationships respected as equal under the law,” said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign. “I believe that one day very soon the platforms of both major parties will include similar language on this issue.
¶News of the platform amendment was first reported by The Washington Blade.
¶The Democratic Party platform that was drafted four years ago, when Mr. Obama was first running for president, called for “full inclusion of all families, including same-sex couples, in the life of our nation, and support equal responsibility, benefits and protections.”
¶But the platform stopped short of endorsing same-sex marriages, in part because Mr. Obama had said he remained opposed.
¶The issue remains a difficult one for some Democrats, particularly those in the midst of hard-fought re-election campaigns in conservative-leaning states. Those include Tim Kaine, the former Democratic National Committee chairman who is running for Senate in Virginia, and Senators Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Jon Tester of Montana.
¶Peter Sprigg, a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, predicted that Democrats will regret the decision to include the marriage equality plank in their platform.
¶“There are many places in the country where Democratic candidates will not want to be identified with the gay-marriage party,” Mr. Sprigg said. “I think this is more politically correct than it is politically smart.”