Democratic Platform Mirrors Obama and Backs Same-Sex Marriage

Democrats unanimously voted today to endorse same-sex marriage in their party’s platform, the first time a major political party has supported the issue in its statement of policies.

Today’s action at the platform committee meeting in Detroit sends the document for ratification by delegates to next month’s Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. President Barack Obama, a Democrat, said in May that he supports same-sex marriage. Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney doesn’t.

A drafting committee included the same-sex marriage provision in the platform last month. Platform committee members raised no objections.

“The 14th Amendment is very clear -- equal protection under the law,” said the platform committee co-chairman, Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, New Jersey. “We as a party have really embraced the president’s ideas.”

While calling the action “very significant,” Booker told reporters after the committee meeting that the top issue in the presidential campaign would be the economy, not same-sex marriage.

“It may repel some, it may attract others,” he said. “This campaign is not going to turn on gay marriage.”

Immigration Overhaul

The platform also calls for “comprehensive immigration reform,” citing the Dream Act, legislation that would allow children brought to the U.S. by undocumented-immigrant parents to get legal status if they go to college or join the military. Congressional Republicans have blocked the legislation. Obama said June 15 that his administration would no longer deport some young adults brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

Senate Democratic candidates in Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico had asked that Dream Act provisions be part of the party platform.

While the platform promises to “preserve Americans’ Second Amendment right to own and use firearms,” it also says that “the right to own firearms is subject to reasonable regulation,” such as restoring the ban on assault-style weapons and strengthening background checks.

Twelve people were killed and at least 58 were injured on July 20 when a gunman opened fire during a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” in an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater. Seven people, including the alleged gunman, died in a shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, on Aug. 5.

Corporate Donations

The platform also addresses the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which removed restrictions on corporate and union independent expenditures and has led to an increase in campaign spending by outside groups, many of which don’t disclose their donors. The platform calls for “immediate action” to overhaul the campaign finance system, including requiring nonprofit groups running political ads to disclose their contributors.

“You have huge amounts of secret money coming in and changing every level of government,” said Matthew Lesser, a state representative in Connecticut and a member of the platform committee.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan D. Salant in Detroit at jsalant@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jeanne Cummings at jcummings21@bloomberg.net.

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