Same-sex marriage is becoming increasingly important in America. The up-and-coming voters put a good deal of weight on the issue, making it a topic that could make or break elections in the coming years. Democratic views on gay marriage support full equality under the law for same-sex couples. Democrats believe that gay marriage should be left a state issue, and that religious entities should be allowed to make decisions about marriage as a religious sacrament on their own. The 2012 Democratic Party Platform states, “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 law for same-sex couples.”
Gay Marriage and the Federal Government
Democrats believe in leaving marriage a stat-by-state issue. They disagree with having a federal ban on gay marriage, stating, “in our country, marriage has been defined at the state level for 200 years, and we believe it should continue to be defined there.” However, they would prefer to see gay marriage legalized in every state, stating, “we oppose discriminatory federal and state constitutional amendments and other attempts to deny equal protection of the laws to committed same-sex couples who seek the same respect and responsibilities as other married couples. We support…the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act.”
Gay Marriage and Religion
Democrats believe that religious organizations should be able to choose what they do and do not recognize as marriage in terms of a religious sacrament. The 2012 Democratic Party Platform states, “we also support the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference.”
The Defense of Marriage Act
In 1996, the Defense of Marriage Act was passed, being headed by the Republican Party. The law granted states the right to not recognize same-sex marriages that were granted under the laws of other states. The law originally kept same-sex couples from being recognized as “spouses” under the federal law, preventing them from claiming marriage benefits from the federal government.
In September of 2009, The Respect of Marriage Act was introduced by Democratic congressmen Jerrold Nadler, Tammy Baldwin, and Jared Polis. The new bill sought to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, and was supported by Bill Clinton and Bob Barr, who was the Defense of Marriage Act’s original author. It was also supported by several other legislators who originally voted for the Defense of Marriage Act when it was first put into place.
In February of 2011, the Obama administration issued a statement saying that they would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act Section 3 in the courts, and instructed the Department of Justice to act accordingly. Speaker of the House John Boehner convened the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, which voted 3-2 that it should defend the Defense of Marriage Act Section 3, as the Department of Justice was not doing so.
At this point, the Respect for Marriage Act was re-introduced to the Senate and the House of Representatives by Diane Feinstein and Jarrold Nadler, respectively. The bill made it to the Senate floor, but did not receive the 60 votes it needed to bring it to a vote. In June of 2013, Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act was repealed by the Supreme Court, and Feinstein and Nadler re-introduced the Respect for Marriage Act once again. The Democratic party is still in support of the Respect for Marriage Act, and hopes to see it passed.
Democrats vs. Republicans on Gay Marriage
The Democratic view on gay marriage is that all couples should be treated equally under the law and given all the same legal benefits that opposite-sex marriages are. Republicans, like Democrats, believe that gay marriage should be a state issue. President Bush proposed this in 2004, stating, “in our country, marriage has been defined at the state level for 200 years, and we believe it should continue to be defined there.” In this capacity, the two parties agree. Both believe the states should be able to decree whether or not gay marriage is legalized.
While Republicans also believe that gay marriage should be left to the states to decide, Republicans as a whole would prefer to see states ban gay marriage, where Democrats hope to see the opposite. Disputes about the issue of gay marriage between the Democrat and Republican Parties have revolved heavily around the Defense of Marriage Act. In the 2012 Republican Party platform, republicans spoke out against the current Democratic administration’s blatant disregard for the Defense of Marriage Act and the refusal to uphold it. Republicans also criticized the President’s support of allowing same-sex marriage in military bases, his push for providing federal benefits to same-sex couples, and particularly the administration’s refusal to support DOMA in courts, claiming that these actions were a direct violation of the President’s inaugural oath.
Barack Obama on Gay Marriage
President Obama is the first president to stand up in support of gay marriage. President Obama is a supporter of gay marriage, but he wasn’t always outspoken about the issue. When he finally spoke out in support of the issue, he stated, “I’ve been going through an evolution on this issue. I’ve always been adamant that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally. 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.” When asked about his previous hesitation, Obama says, “I had hesitated on gay marriage, in part because I thought civil unions would be sufficient… And I was sensitive to the fact that for a lot of people the word ‘marriage’ was something that invokes very powerful traditions, religious beliefs and so forth.”
Hillary Clinton on Gay Marriage
Originally, Hillary Clinton was not a large supporter of gay marriage. Tpday, she stands in support of it. When asked about her change of heart, Clinton states, “it really became very clear to me that if we’re going to support marriage in our country, it should be available to everyone regardless of who they love and that this marriage equality issue is a great human rights issue.” Some question her motives for this change of heart, believing that it was politically motivated. During an interview with NPR’s Terry Gross, Clinton stood up to these accusations, stating, “I think you are trying to say that I used to be opposed [to gay marriage], and now I am in favor, and I did it for political reasons. And that’s just flat wrong. So let me just state what I feel like you are implying and repudiate it. I have a strong record. I have a great commitment to this issue and I am proud of what I’ve done and the progress we’re making.”
- Democratic Party on Civil Rights – On The Issues
- Supreme Court strikes down key part of Defense of Marriage Act – The Washington Post
- LGBT Community – Democrats.org
- Obama Backs Gay Marriage – The Wall Street Journal
- Democratic Views on Gay Rights
- Republican Views on Gay Marriage
- Donald Trump on Gay Marriage
- Republican Views on Gay Rights
- Common Arguments Against Gay Marriage
- Democratic Views on Religion
- Differences Between Democrats and Republicans
- Democratic Views on Defense Spending
- Democratic Views On Military Spending
- Democratic Views on Gun Control