Support for gay marriage is part of the Democratic Party’s preliminary platform for the fall, Representative Barney Frank’s office confirmed to the Globe Monday.
Democrats’ platform drafting committee, which includes Frank, met in Minneapolis over the weekend and agreed on draft language that would put a major political party officially on-board with legal same-sex marriage for the first time in US history.
The language will be considered by the full Democratic platform committee, which meets in Detroit between Aug. 10 and 12. If approved, an endorsement of gay marriage will be put to vote at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte in September.
Democrats’ preliminary backing of gay marriage was reported first by the Washington Blade, a newspaper focused on the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities. Citing an unnamed Democratic source, the paper reported the tentative platform also includes a rejection of the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriages.
“I was part of a unanimous decision to include [gay marriage],” Frank, who married his longtime partner earlier this month, told the Blade.
The inclusion of a pro-gay marriage plank on the Democratic platform would follow President Obama’s announcement in May that he supports legal same-sex marriage.
“At a certain point, I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married,” Obama said in an interview at the White House with “Good Morning America” coanchor Robin Roberts.
Mitt Romney, Obama’s Republican challenger, opposes gay marriage.
Obama, who for more than a year had said his view of gay marriage was “evolving,” said he arrived at a supportive position after talking with friends and family members and observing some people on his White House staff “who are in incredibly committed, monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together.”
Others in the Obama administration, including Vice President Joe Biden and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, had indicated their support of gay marriage in the days before the president’s announcement.
The first endorsement of same-sex marriage by a sitting president marked a milestone on the road toward legal gay marriage, and the backing of the Democratic Party would mark another, according to Kara S. Suffredini, executive director of Mass Equality, an LGBT rights group.
“We are thrilled that marriage equality has so far made it onto the Democratic platform,” Suffredini said. “This is the start of more equality, not more division.”
Suffredini added that she is not worried about a possible conservative backlash, saying she believes “the days of gay marriage as a divisive vote driver are over.”
But Brian S. Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, told the Associated Press that if gay marriage winds up in the Democratic platform, his group “will rally supporters of traditional marriage to make sure they realize that the outcome of the presidential election may determine the future of marriage in our country.”
R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, a conservative gay rights group, acknowledged a pro-gay marriage Democratic platform would carry symbolic value. But he also noted that presidential and other candidates are not bound by their parties’ official platforms and seldom stand firmly on every plank.
“I don’t put a lot of stock in platform language,” Cooper said.
Still, Cooper said he will participate in GOP platform discussions next month, and “the case is going to be made to eliminate anything perceived as anti-gay from the Republican platform.”
There will be no endorsement of gay marriage, but the goal, Cooper said, will be to strike any language that would define marriage as a heterosexual union, making the Republican platform more inclusive. Log Cabin Republicans planned to make such a pitch before the Democrats’ preliminary platform was revealed, Cooper noted.Callum Borchers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @callumborchers.