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MARRIAGE DIGEST: Dean comments about platform upset homosexuals; Ill. signature drive appears successful

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean generally has been embraced by liberals, but comments he made to the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) have homosexual activists upset — so much so that one group is returning a contribution the DNC made.

In an interview with CBN, Dean said that the 2004 DNC platform defined marriage in the natural and traditional sense. However, it did not.

“The Democratic Party platform from 2004 says that marriage is between a man and a woman. That’s what it says,” said Dean, who has since retracted his statement. “I think where we may take exception with some religious leaders is that we believe in inclusion, that everybody deserves to live with dignity and respect, and that equal rights under the law are important.”

But the 2004 platform said Democrats “repudiate” efforts to pass a federal marriage amendment. It said nothing about marriage being between a man and a woman. In fact, the platform was celebrated in 2004 by liberal activists as being the most homosexuality-friendly platform in the history of the two major parties.

“We support full inclusion of gay and lesbian families in the life of our nation and seek equal responsibilities, benefits, and protections for these families,” the platform stated. “In our country, marriage has been defined at the state level for 200 years, and we believe it should continue to be defined there.”

The leaders of two of the nation’s leading homosexual activist organizations blasted Dean’s comments. Although as governor of Vermont Dean signed into law a landmark same-sex civil unions bill, he has disappointed homosexuals recently.

“Disturbingly, this is not the first time he has misrepresented this important and affirming plank, and he has been asked before to correct the record and to cease making these misleading statements,” Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said in a statement. “Governor Dean’s record on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues since becoming DNC chair has been sorely and sadly lacking. The Democratic Party chair should stand by and fight for the party’s own platform and values.”

Foreman said his organization was returning a $5,000 contribution made by the DNC. He also urged Dean to help fight “anti-gay ballot initiatives” this fall — a reference to state marriage amendments. Nineteen states have adopted such amendments, and at least seven other states are scheduled to vote on them this year. The amendments prevent state courts from redefining marriage.

“We urge him to take the money we are returning today and spend it to defeat these attacks on LGBT people and our families,” Foreman said, using the acronym for “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.”

Joe Solmonese, president of the homosexual activist group Human Rights Campaign, also criticized Dean.

“Governor Dean’s comments weren’t a mere slip of the tongue but a glaring reminder of the governor’s lack of leadership on this issue,” Solmonese said in a statement,” Solmonese said in a statement. “… We join fellow gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender leaders in concern over a troubling series of missteps that fail to convey Governor Dean’s and the DNC’s commitment to equality.”

The dustup comes just a week after Dean named Brian Bond as the new executive director of the DNC’s Gay & Lesbian Leadership Council — a wing of the DNC designed to reach out to and organize homosexual voters. Bond previously served as executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund.

In a May 3 statement — which now seems ironic — Dean said, “Brian’s proven and effective leadership will be crucial to our effort to confront the issues facing the Party and the LGBT community. … Unfortunately, the Republicans are again taking a page from the Karl Rove playbook and using issues to scapegoat the LGBT community with the divisive federal marriage amendment and hate-filled ballot initiatives aimed at dividing and distracting America from critical issues facing our country. Brian will help lead our fight to end the Republican politics of fear and division.”

ILLINOIS SIGNATURE DRIVE SUCCESSFUL? — Protect Marriage Illinois, a pro-family coalition, turned in some 345,000 signatures May 8 supportive of a state constitutional marriage amendment — well over the 283,000 required to place the issue on the ballot. The signatures now must be verified.

If successful, the effort would place on the ballot a non-binding advisory referendum that would ask the state legislature to pass a marriage amendment. Unlike some other states, Illinois law does not allow a signature drive to place the amendment itself on the ballot.

Although the referendum would be non-binding, it would be significant, with more than 300,000 signatures gathered and — if successful — a majority of Illinois voters agreeing with it. It would be the first advisory referendum to make it on the ballot in 28 years, according to Protect Marriage Illinois.

“The task of going to the ballot to call on our political leaders to protect traditional marriage has united people from every part of Illinois and from all races and backgrounds: African-American Pentecostals in Chicago, white Catholics in Peoria, evangelicals, Muslims, Republicans, Democrats and Independents,” Peter LaBarbera, executive director of Illinois Family Institute, said in a statement. “Truly, this is a ‘We the People’ movement.”

MASS. VOTE POSTPONED — A vote in the Massachusetts legislature on a proposed constitutional marriage amendment has been postponed until at least July in order to give the state’s highest court time to rule on whether the amendment itself is constitutional, The Republican newspaper in Massachusetts reported. Senate President Robert E. Travaglini, who presides over constitutional conventions, announced the delay May 9.

The amendment already has collected 124,000 signatures — twice the number required — and now must win the approval of at least 25 percent of state legislators in two consecutive sessions before it is placed on the 2008 ballot.

The Massachusetts high court heard arguments May 4 in a lawsuit by homosexual activists against the amendment. The high court issued its decision legalizing “gay marriage” in 2003.

Meanwhile, a new telephone poll of 400 registered Massachusetts voters shows that 75 percent of voters say that voters, and not the courts, should decide “the definition of marriage in Massachusetts.” Nineteen percent side with the courts. The poll was conducted May 3-4 by State House News Service for VoteOnMarriage.org
For more information about the national debate over “gay marriage,” visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage

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  • Michael Foust