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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriage (SSM)

2012: Background of GOP and Dem. platform.
2012-JUL: Democratic platform.

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We use the acronym "SSM" throughout this section to represent "same-sex marriage"
We use the acronym "LGBT" to refer to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons
and transsexuals. The acronym "LGB" refers to lesbians, gays, and bisexuals.

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As election day in 2012-NOV approaches, much of the American public regards:

to be the main current civil rights battles in the U.S.

The Democratic and Republican parties are far apart in their positions on these battles.

  • The Democratic Party:

    • 2011-FEB-23: The Obama administration announced on that it would no longer defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court. DOMA has violated centuries of government tradition and the U.S. Constitution by preventing the federal government from recognizing any marriages consecrated within any state by any same-sex couple. The administration cited an earlier decision in a Massachusetts federal court that found multiple reasons why the federal DOMA legislation violates the U.S. Constitution and is thus invalid. Since then, other federal courts have ruled in similar cases. All concluded that DOMA is clearly unconstitutional. As of 2012-AUG, one of these cases had been appealed to a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals which upheld the ruling of their District Court.

      Some commentators predicted that that 2011-FEB decision by the Obama administration would create a tipping point that would lead to a more rapid decline in discrimination against sexual minorities in the U.S. and faster movement towards marriage equality. The prediction appears to be coming true. During this Democratic administration there has been an increase in the number of events -- some important, some minor, some merely symbolic -- that indicate a gradual evaporation of oppression, animosity, animus, and homophobia against sexual minorities. As of mid-2012, about one additional state per year has been legalizing SSM. The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy of the Armed Forces has been terminated. Same-sex partners are now able visit their loved ones in essentially all hospitals. A majority of American adults now favor legalization of SSM.

    • 2012-MAY: Vice-president Biden, President Obama, and other Democratic Party leaders, announced their personal support of marriage equality.

  • The Republican Party:

    • As of mid-2012. there is a lack of consensus within the party over marriage equality and rights for the LGBT community. Religious conservatives within the party are strongly opposed to marriage equality, and equal rights for LGBTs. This is driven largely by their interpretation of the six or seven "clobber" passages in the Bible that have traditionally been used to call for discrimination against LGBTs. Many of the Tea Party faction within the party are libertarians. They feel that governments should stay out of people's personal lives, including deciding which couples should be allowed to marry. Overall, most Republicans remain strongly opposed to any movement towards LGBT equality.

On the ballots for at election day 2012-NOV, there will be four state plebiscites affecting SSM in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington state. The citizen initiative in Maine is attempting to repeal an earlier initiative, and restore a SSM marriage law passed by the state legislature. Maryland's initiative is an attempt to prevent the SSM law signed into law on 2012-MAR-01 from taking effect. Minnesota's citizen initiative is an attempt to write a DOMA-like discrimination clause into the state constitution to prohibit SSMs. The Washington state initiative is an attempt to repeal a state law that has legalized SSM, thus preventing it from taking effect.

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Developments of the Democratic party's platforms during 2012-JUL:

  • 2012-JUL-28: Democratic party considers supporting same-sex marriage (SSM): Currently, about 70% of registered Democrats favor marriage equality for all loving, committed couples, including those of the same sex.

    At a meeting in Minneapolis, MN, a group of Democratic Party officials unanimously approved in principle the advocacy of SSM within their party platform. Their decision was passed on to the full platform committee. If approved, or modified, the platform would be voted upon by the convention delegates in Charlotte, NC in early 2012-SEP.

    The proposed language also repeats the party's 2008 platform that condemned the Defense of Marriage Act. That law prevents the federal government from recognizing legal same-sex marriages solemnized in the District of Columbia and 6 states. It has recently been declared unconstitutional by multiple federal courts.

    Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign -- one of the main group fighting for marriage equality -- said:

    "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. I believe that one day very soon the platforms of both major parties will include similar language on this issue."

    Peter S. Sprigg, senior fellow at the Family Research Council -- an organization designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group -- said:

    "There are many places in the country where Democratic candidates will not want to be identified with the gay-marriage party. I think this is more politically correct than it is politically smart. 1

  • 2012-AUG-10: USA: Tentative wording of proposed marriage plank revealed: According to the Family Research Council, the current wording of the marriage equality section of the proposed 2012 Democratic Party platform is:

    "We support the right of all families to have equal respect, responsibilities, and protections under the law. We support marriage equality and support the movement to secure equal treatment under the law for same-sex couples."

    The statement does appear to have a bit of wiggle room, because "equal treatment under the law" might be interpreted by some people as approving of civil unions, but not same-sex marriage. The former exclude what is to many same-sex couples is the most important right of all: the right to have their relationships recognized as a marriage. However, to most people, the term "marriage equality" means access to marriage by same-sex couples.

    The statement also allegedly includes protections for religious groups who want to continue discriminating against same-sex couples by highlighting:

    "... the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference." 2

    This would grant all faith groups and individual clergy full religious liberty on matters relating to marriage without intrusion by the government. In states where SSM has been legalized, those religious leaders who want to continue discrimination against their LGBT members could continue to do so freely. Those leaders who want to perform marriage ceremonies for their LGBT couples could do so without government interference. This is a win-win situation for religious freedom and liberty.

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This topic continues in the next essay

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare & update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. J.W. Peters & M.D. Shear, "Democrats Draft Gay Marriage Platform," New York Times, 2012-JUL-30, at:
  2. "Dems make a splash with platform dives," Family Research Council, Email, 2012-AUG-10.
  3. Ed White, "Dem. platform group backs gay marriage," Associated Press, 2012-AUG-11, at:
  4. Mitch Weiss, "Democratic National Convention: Groups Pushing Marriage Equality Amid Ban On Gay Marriage," Huffington Post, 2012-AUG-25, at:
  5. "Platform meetings next week. Please help us keep the platform pro-marriage," Email, FRC Action, 2012-AUG-14.
  6. Waymon Hudson, "Election 2012: Party Platforms Highlight Stark Differences in Democratic and Republican Positions on LGBT Equality ," Huffington Post, 2012-AUG-24, at:
  7. Zeke Miller & Chris Geidner, "Exclusive: GOP Platform Draft Strongly Defends 'Traditional Concept Of Marriage'," BuzzFeed, 2012-AUG-20, at:

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How you got here:

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Copyright © 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
First posted: 2012-AUG-26
Latest update: 2012-AUG-26
Author: B.A. Robinson
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