PITTSBURGH (BP)–In a major victory for homosexual activists, the 2008 proposed Democratic Platform goes on record as opposing the Defense of Marriage Act, a law passed in 1996 that gives states protections from being forced to legalize “gay marriage.”
The platform also for the first time calls for overturning the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, which prevents homosexuals from serving openly. Additionally, it repeats the party’s support for the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
Signed into law by former President Clinton, the Defense of Marriage Act has two parts. First, it prevents the federal government from recognizing “gay marriages” — even those on the state level, such as in Massachusetts and California. Second, it gives states the option of not recognizing “gay marriages” from other states.
The proposed platform was approved Aug. 9 by the Democratic platform committee and now must be ratified by delegates at the Democratic National Convention later this month.
The platform language reflects the views of presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama, who supports DOMA’s repeal. Ironically, Obama has repeatedly called for DOMA’s repeal while at the same time on his website saying the “federal government should not stand in the way of states that want to decide on their own how best to pursue equality for gay and lesbian couples.”
Such statements have frustrated conservatives, who note that DOMA was passed to give states more leeway on the issue. Repealing DOMA, they say, could force states to recognize “gay marriages” from Massachusetts and California.
Carrie Gordon Earll of Focus on the Family Action said Obama is “talking out of both sides of his mouth.”
“[Repealing DOMA] would remove the ability of a state to say, ‘We don’t want to recognize so-called same-sex marriages from other states,'” Earll told Baptist Press. “So, while [Obama] will say he does not go as far as supporting same-sex marriage, he is willing to repeal the law that protects states from having to accept same-sex marriage.”
Obama also opposes proposed constitutional marriage amendments in California, Arizona and Florida. He has gone significantly further in his support of “gay rights” than did 2004 Democratic nominee John Kerry, who backed a marriage amendment in his home state of Massachusetts and also said he didn’t favor repealing DOMA. Earlier this year Obama wrote the Alice B. Toklas Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Democratic Club and said, “I am proud to join with and support the LGBT community in an effort to set our nation on a course that recognizes LGBT Americans with full equality under the law.” Obama’s positions also have drawn a sharp distinction with presumptive Republican nominee John McCain, who backs DOMA and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and also supports the various state marriage amendments.
Obama has made promises to the homosexual community while at the same time courting the votes of evangelicals.
“At some point he’s going to have to choose,” Earll said. “He can try to court homosexual activists and evangelicals simultaneously, but if he does what he has promised homosexual activists, it will be the evangelicals and religious freedom that will suffer.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from San Francisco who supports “gay marriage,” said recently at a press conference that she would support Obama’s efforts to repeal DOMA if he is elected president.
It’s unknown how successful an effort to repeal DOMA would be, although its chances would be far greater if Democrats maintain the House and Senate. When DOMA passed the Senate 85-14 in 1996, Democratic Sen. Harry Reid — now the majority leader — supported it.
Past calls for repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell have drawn criticism from those who have served in the military. Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council and a former U.S. Marine, told Baptist Press last year he believes the policy makes common, practical sense.
“Sometimes you’ll have 100, 500 or 1,000 soldiers, sailors or Marines together in a barracks or in a ship bay, all using the same showers and bathroom facilities,” Perkins said. “When you introduce sexuality into that kind of environment, it begins to break down discipline and unit cohesion.”
Southern Baptists in 1993 passed a resolution opposing “lifting the ban on homosexuals serving in the armed forces.” They also passed resolutions opposing “gay marriage” in 1996, 2003 and 2008, with the 2003 resolution implicitly stating support for the Defense of Marriage Act and the 2008 resolution calling on California Southern Baptists and Christians to “exercise their civic and moral duty by working diligently to support and voting to pass” the proposed marriage amendment.
Michael Foust is an assistant editor of Baptist Press.