Dems' New National Platform Opposes Defense of Marriage Act

By Josiah Ryan | August 12, 2008 | 7:57 AM EDT

(CNSNews.com) – The 2008 Democratic Party platform draft, which will be submitted to delegates at the Democratic National Convention for approval later this month, expresses opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a federal law that presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama says he wants to repeal.

“We will enact a comprehensive bipartisan employment non-discrimination act,” says the platform draft. “We oppose the Defense of Marriage Act and all attempts to use this issue to divide us.”
 
DOMA defines marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman for purposes of all federal laws. Signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996, DOMA protects states from having to recognize same-sex marriages contracted in other states as they ordinarily would be required to do under the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution.
 
Ordinarily, under that clause, states are required to recognize "the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State."
 
Sen. Obama has repeatedly said during his presidential campaign that he wants to fully repeal DOMA.  On July 17, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told CNSNews.com that she would support Obama in repealing DOMA if he were elected president.
 
The “pride” section of the Obama campaign Web site reads: "Obama also believes we need to fully repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and enact legislation that would ensure that the 1,100+ federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally recognized unions.”
 
One-hundred-and-fifty Democratic members of Congress voted in favor of DOMA in 1996.
 
If the draft Democratic platform is approved by the delegates at the Democratic National Convention it will be the first Democratic platform to explicitly mention DOMA.
 
The 2004 Democratic platform said that states ought to determine how marriage is defined.
 
Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, a conservative group, told CNSNews.com that if Obama is elected she thinks repealing DOMA could be one to the first changes he would make. "There are going to be so many things he has promised," said Wright. "There will be radical actions in his first couple of days if he becomes president."
 
But Evan Wolfson, executive director of the liberal group Freedom to Marry,  thinks the repeal of DOMA is an Obama issue but not necessarily a top priority. 
 
"I don't think that the candidate has given comment as of timing” for repeal, said Wolson. “So I don't know it will be the first thing in this first administration. We do hope it is done in the first 4 years though."

The platform draft was approved by a special 186-member Democratic panel gathered in Pittsburgh on Saturday. This year’s panel was led by Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano.
 

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