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Opinion: Democratic Party Better Late than Never - and the GOP - on Gay Marriage

Monday, July 30, 2012 - 03:26 PM

The Democrats are once again proving that they lag behind their own voters.  But they are also demonstrating that they are still leagues ahead of the Republicans.

In a non-controversial decision, the Democratic Party has announced that its platform at this year's convention will include a plank in support of full marriage equality. This isn't causing the Party to schism as the stand for Civil Rights did in 1948. If anything, it will further a cohesion of the Party, as the slow machinery of cautious bureaucracy catches up with the mood in America: let people get married already.

The arc of history is moving in the direction of greater respect for and acceptance of our LGBT sisters and brothers, and President Obama found himself floating with that wave when he announced his evolution on this issue a few months ago. His public coming out -- following a series of positive administrative decisions, like declining to defend the Defense of Marriage Act -- has allowed other high-profile Democrats to take a stance for what they probably already believed.

We live in a world in which one of the most memorable Youtube clips of the year is the testimony of Zach Wahls in Iowa, the son of two moms. We salute the passing of Sally Ride, a heroic and history-making astronaut, whose life partner will be denied full benefits. One of Texas's biggest cities has a lesbian Mayor. Hockey players make videos supporting respect for gay players. It's about time the Democratic Party caught up with history and with the country.

Our fellow Americans, along with President Obama, have evolved. The only folks who haven't, aside from Chick-Fil-A, are the leaders of the national Republican Party. Local Republicans, like Senator Alesi, a key vote in New York's decision last year, embrace -- and attend -- same-sex marriages. Our former Vice President, a Darth Vader figure to many of us on the left, turns out to be a father first and right-winger second in his own embrace of his daughter's lifestyle.

Mitt Romney, who once declared himself better for the gay community of Massachusetts than Senator Ted Kennedy. As Governor, on his watch, his state took great strides in recognizing same-sex marriages. Yet Mitt seems to be siding with the far right, the party fringe and the ways of the past. And he's battling against the tide of time, the Muppets and the majority of the country.

More Republicans are going to start supporting equality. Those with libertarian leanings won't see any principled reason to oppose. Those who care only for the bottom line of the corporate culture will realize equality hurts nobody's business. Those who live in moderate states will know that holding their own jobs relies on holding out a hand to this national consensus.

And in the end, Romney will find himself facing a growing chorus of pro-equality Republicans -- once again fighting his own party, flailing and failing.

Mitt, it's only a matter of years before you Etch-a-Sketch on this issue as well. Why not call it an evolution instead of a flip-flop and get it over with in time to win back some independent voters? In the meantime, the Democrats are in a position they don't always find themselves in: leading the way.

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