Every four years, America's political parties update their official party platforms to reflect official policy views. Yesterday, news broke that Democratic officials will add support of same-sex marriage to the party's platform during the Democratic National Convention in North Carolina (a state that just voted to constitutionally ban it) this September. The Democrats' shift mirrors that of President Obama, who officially lent his support to gay marriage a few months ago. The president's party is surely hoping it mirrors a shift in the voting public's attitudes, too.
According to Democratic officials, adding support for equal marriage rights was a no-brainer and there was no arguing at a platform-drafting meeting that went down last weekend. While the Democrats' 2008 platform did oppose the Defense of Marriage Act, it did not go as far to endorse gay marriage, as then-nominee Barack Obama opposed it in favor of civil unions.
As for the Republican party's platform, following President Obama's statement of support, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said his party has no plans to add support for gay marriage to the GOP platform. He said, "While President Obama has played politics on this issue, the Republican party and our presumptive nominee Mitt Romney have been clear. We support maintaining marriage between one man and one woman and would oppose any attempts to change that." Just keep reading to find out what the current RNC platform says.
The current GOP platform, last revised in 2008, reads in part:
Because our children's future is best preserved within the traditional understanding of marriage, we call for a constitutional amendment that fully protects marriage as a union of a man and a woman, so that judges cannot make other arrangements equivalent to it. In the absence of a national amendment, we support the right of the people of the various states to affirm traditional marriage through state initiatives. Republicans recognize the importance of having in the home a father and a mother who are married. The two-parent family still provides the best environment of stability, discipline, responsibility, and character. Children in homes without fathers are more likely to commit a crime, drop out of school, become violent, become teen parents, use illegal drugs, become mired in poverty, or have emotional or behavioral problems. We support the courageous efforts of single-parent families to provide a stable home for their children
According to the socially-conservative group Family Research Council, forces in the Republican party, including Laura Bush and Dick Cheney, who has a gay daughter, want to modify that platform in support of same-sex marriage. Despite those concerns, that's not likely to happen with Mitt Romney as the nominee, as he has worked hard to show that he is a strict social conservative, abandoning previous prochoice views, for example.
Now that support for gay marriage will be included in the Democratic party's official platform, the issue has the potential to wedge voters this Fall. It also has the ability to energize campaign donors on both sides. Knowing how the parties differ, would gay marriage positions impact your vote, or inspire you to campaign for your candidate of choice?