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Democratic Party needs marriage equality plank

Posted: March 9th, 2012 | Political Spectrum |

Allan Acevedo | Political Spectrum

Allan Acevedo

Last week at the San Diego Democrats for Equality meeting, an endorsement forum was held for the newly redrawn 53rd Congressional District. One thing became clear to me during the club’s debate on the endorsement: marriage equality is a singularly salient issue for me. I hope that it is for you, as well.

The two major candidates at the forum were State Senator Juan Vargas and former State Senator Denise Ducheny. Coming into the forum unsure whom I would support, my vote was solidified during the first few minutes of the debate. Vargas said he did not support full marriage equality and said his views “were evolving.” Ducheney, on the other hand, has evolved enough already and supports marriage equality for all her constituents.

That was enough for me. I decided right then and there that I would prioritize my votes for elected officials based on their support for marriage equality. During the meeting, I spoke in favor of Ducheny’s endorsement by saying I was sick and tired of voting for Democrats who do not support marriage equality. I vowed to only ever do it once more: in voting for President Barack Obama’s reelection. Once more and never again, I said.

I’m not alone. The national Freedom to Marry organization recently launched the Democrats Say I Do campaign, calling on the Democratic Party to add a plank to its platform explicitly supporting full marriage equality.

A party’s platform is an aspirational document that lays out the values, initiatives and priorities of the parties as a whole. The Democratic Party platform, as adopted in 2008, asserts, “[w]e believe in the essential American ideal that we are not constrained by the circumstances of birth but can make of our lives what we will.”

The Party’s values purport to “support the full inclusion of all families, including same-sex couples, in the life of our nation, and support equal responsibility, benefits, and protections” yet do not go as far as to explicitly support full marriage equality for all citizens.

This is unacceptable. With Maryland and Washington state’s governors signing marriage equality legislation into law—set aside ensuing repeal efforts—it is clear that the tide is shifting in support of marriage equality. While it is true that voters in 30 states, including our very own, have passed bans on same-sex marriage, I believe there is value in pushing for the inclusion of such a plank in the Party platform.

As a Party and a nation, we should strive to have our values reflect the broadest ideals of equality. Understood, not all Democrats support equality, but the platform is not intended to reflect the current positions or struggles the Party has made, it is meant to look to the future at where the Party wants to advance.

It is with this understanding that I support a plank added to the platform expressing a committed support for marriage equality.

Obama’s views on marriage equality will likely evolve in 2013, after he has secured his reelection. I look forward to having him on the right side of the issue, even if his current political calculus leaves him thinking it would not be beneficial to support marriage equality today.

There are concerns of overly politicizing this year’s Democratic Convention on hot-button social issues, and some critiques say that now is not the time. Especially knowing this year’s convention—where the platform would potentially be endorsed—is taking place in Charlotte, N.C. The people of North Carolina are voting on a constitutional ban on same sex marriage this May, which is likely to pass.

Democrats have relied far too long on the LGBT community for support and funding. It’s time that our community holds this party accountable to the millions of LGBT citizens wanting equal treatment under the law.

If not now, then when?

It is important to know where the Democratic Party truly stands on the definitive equality issue our generation is fighting. LGBT Democrats have marginalized themselves long enough and it’s time that we expect full support.

—Allan Acevedo is co-founder and president emeritus of Stonewall Young Democrats of San Diego. He has worked on multiple political campaigns and served on numerous boards including the San Diego Democratic Club, California Young Democrats, Gay-Straight Alliant Network and Equality California PAC.

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