U.S. Senators Come Out In Support Of National Marriage Equality—A Whopping 19% Of ‘Em!

Today, the Washington Blade reports that 19 senators have endorsed a marriage-equality plank in the Democratic Party’s 2012 national platform.

Of those who endorsed such a plank, Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Tom Harkin (D-IA), John Kerry (D-MA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) represent states that have legalized same-sex marriages already.

All 19 legislators approved a statement released by Freedom to Marry as part of its “Democrats: Say I Do” campaign, launched February 13:

The Democratic Party supports the full inclusion of all families in the life of our nation, with equal respect, responsibility, and protection under the law, including the freedom to marry. Government has no business putting barriers in the path of people seeking to care for their family members, particularly in challenging economic times. We support the Respect for Marriage Act and the overturning of the federal so-called Defense of Marriage Act, and oppose discriminatory constitutional amendments and other attempts to deny the freedom to marry to loving and committed same-sex couples.

Evan Wolfson, founder and President of Freedom to Marry, said in a statement:

“These 19 senators from across the nation all know firsthand why marriage matters to gay and lesbian couples, their kids, their kin, and our country.  Their support for Freedom to Marry’s “Say I Do” campaign shows real momentum among Democrats for what the Democratic Party does at its best—overcome discrimination and barriers and lead the way toward a more perfect union.”

We applaud the politicians’ commitment as well, but we’re a little disappointed more didn’t sign on—especially considering how poll after poll is showing more Americans than ever support full marriage equality.

Sigh, we guess it’s no coincidence the word “senate” stems from the Latin word for “old men.”

Photo via Architect of the Capitol

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  • the crustybastard

    Golly! A whopping 37% of Democratic Senators philosophically support equal protection under the law? Wow. How brave of them to get onboard this Equal Protection thing a mere 144 years after it was guaranteed by the Constitution.

    Likewise, I’m utterly charmed by the fact these senators find repealing DOMA a noble idea in principle, rather than practice.

    Okay, seriously: am I supposed to be impressed by this weak shit, or is this intended to be more ammunition for the “yeah well, Democrats are marginally better than Republicans, so you owe the party your vote!” argument?

    /As usual, my Democratic senator hides in the shrubbery. Coward won’t get my vote again.
    //Where is Senate President Joe “I voted for DOMA” Biden? Is he insufficiently evolved as well?

  • CJ

    It doesn’t surprise me. Not. at. all.

    So many people seem to be blind to the fact that in 2008 none of the major Democratic Presidential candidates were for marriage equality. Little to nothing has changed in the Democratic party since then. The needle has moved only very slightly since then. Democrats, as well as Republicans, will not move on an issue until it is SAFE to do so.

    19%. It’s not 50%. It’s not 75%. It’s just 19%.

    Hopefully we’ll all remember this and not blindly assume that Democrats are 100% supportive. When it is politically safe to move… Democrats and Republicans will move. Until then, each political move is calculated. Only few Democrats and Republicans have stood up against discrimination PRIOR TO when it was safe for them.

    Undoubtedly these 19% are in states where their jobs are safe. Just like the Governor of Washington State. It’s her final year in office and only now she’s FOR marriage equality. For the prior 7 years she was against it.

  • macmantoo

    Harry Reid is a Mormon and puts his church before human rights. So he’s not in favor of same sex marriages.

  • zephyr with a Z

    A few things about this article, which struck me as more than a little misleading. First, when I clicked on the Blade link tonight, it says that 22 Senators are calling for this to be added to the Democratic platform – maybe 3 more signed on since this was written. Furthermore, there are 51 Democratic Senators, plus 2 Independents who caucus with the Dems but wouldn’t have any say in the platform of a party they choose not to be members of. Which makes it just over 43% of Democratic Senators who have signaled their support for this cause, not 19% or even 22%. Why include the Republicans in the math if they belong to a different party? The Republicans are going to be about 0% on adding support for marriage equality in their platform, and I’d take 43% over 0% any day.

    The other issue is that this has nothing to do with a vote in the Senate, it’s about whether or not to add marriage equality language to the party platform, which from what I can tell is just kind of a general statement saying what a lot of Democrats support, but not all. Being pro-choice is (I’m pretty sure) part of the Democrats platform, but that doesn’t mean that you would have to be pro-choice to vote for a Democrat. And on the state or local level, depending on where you live, a lot of candidates might have views that differ from the official party platform. Just felt like trying to present this information from a slightly less “yeah, thanks a lot, old geezers!” perspective.

  • NovaNardis


    CJ: Please turn off your dire cynicism. It is depressing.

    That said, we should not expect politicians to fall on their own sword all of the time, and yes most of these Senators come from ‘safe’ seats — but not all of them. Michael Bennett and Al Franken both won their last election by under a point. Also, Sherrod Brown from Ohio does not have a locked down seat by any stretch of the imagination, nor does Patty Murray in Washington who had a tough race in ’10.

    And to say that little to nothing has changed in the Democratic Party since ’08 — while saying in the same thought — that Gov. Christine Gregoire reversed her position on marriage equality — is ignorant. Here’s the things that have happened in this country since ’08.

    2008 – Supreme Court of California overturns state ban on gay marriage. Supreme Court of Connecticut orders same sex marriage legalized. Prop 8 and all the reactions.

    2009 – Iowa Supreme Court — unanimously — legalizes same-sex marriage. Democratically-controlled Vermont legislature passes a same-sex marriage bill. The Republican governor vetoes it — but is over-ruled by the General Assembly. New Hampshire legalizes same-sex marriage. Maine legalizes same-sex marriage, but it is overturned through strong campaigning by NOM, the Catholic Church, and the Republican Party. Washington DC legalizes same-sex marriage.

    And you know what? I can’t actually take writing anymore. Here’s the friggin’ list. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Same-sex_marriage_in_the_United_States

    Are politicians risk-averse creatures? Yes. But that doesn’t mean we should hate them. And there has been monumental movement for LGBT rights in the Democratic Party — even with President Obama. FFS, how good do you think Mitt Romney or Rick AssSpooge will be on LGBT issues?

  • NovaNardis

    My larger point being this: At every good turn for the LGBT rights movement recently have been Democrats spearheading the way, and at every road-block there have been Republicans standing in the way of equality. That doesn’t mean every Democrat is good and every Republican is bad. But as a whole, they aren’t even remotely close.

    Case in point: The Democratically controlled NH state legislature approved same-sex marriage in ’10, and the Democratic governor signed the bill. In the 2010 election, the Democrats got wiped out in NH and now the Republicans are in control — and are trying desperately to repeal same-sex marriage against the will of the people in NH. Democratic governor John Lynch — and his veto pen — are the only thing standing in the way. Also, if Jon Corzine were the governor of NJ instead of Chris Christie, there would be nine states with marriage equality right now.

    Food for thought next time anyone says that Democrats are only marginally better than Republicans.

  • Daez

    There is absolutely no doubt that the Democrats are more supportive of Gay Rights (in general) than the Republicans ever will be. This is the party that champions a choice between a rich Mormon daddy type and a zealous crusader frothy mix for the top seat in the land. If you ever find yourself needing proof that Republicans are against us just look at the Republican primary in Michigan which was basically a tie (in what should have been a hands down win for the less homophobic of the two) simply because of the homophobes in the state.

  • NovaNardis

    Actually, Obama and his chickenshit Democrats in both the House and the Senate did nothing to bring DOMA to the floor, and only a self-hating, pathetic wimp would excuse Obama and the Democrats for that. Whatever happened to ENDA (the Employment Non-
    discrimination Act)? Oh, Yeah, bravo!!… Great job you lying sacks of shit Democrats!
    But no, the masochist lemmings and obots can’t get their collective tongues out of Obama’s ass long enough to realize old “Gawds” in the mix” (at heterosexual only weddings) Obama is just using you like toilet paper — after you get the job done for him, he just flushs you away. …bah, bye, stupid Obots!

    By the way, a Democratic Supreme Court Justice cast the deciding vote (Justice White) to UPHOLD those detestable “sodomy” laws as constitutional in the late 1980s while a Republican appointed Justice Kennedy wrote the deciding opinion striking down “sodomy” laws nation-wide. Republican appointed federal judges have been shit-canning anti-gay laws from DOMA to Prop 8, as well as Republican appointed state Supreme Court judges. So fuck all of you morons who think that the courts are the best reason to vote for Obama. That’s weak. Do your research.

    The latest Gallop Poll has Obama losing to Romney. Republicans respect their loony base, while Democrats piss on their progressive base — that is why Democrats lose. They never learn.

    For those first two years when the Dems had huge majorities in both Houses: DOMA, ENDA and even DADT weren’t even on the docket. So quit lying you pathetic gay Uncle Toms and get your tongue out of Obama’s backstabbing ass.

  • Steve

    I predict, the legislature will get serious about repealing DOMA when it becomes very obvious that the Supreme Court is about to make that decision for them. By repealing DOMA legislatively, they will “moot” the court case, to prevent the court from making that ruling, in an attempt to preserve the state-level DOMA laws. (If SCOTUS declares DOMA unconstitutional, the state-level laws go away, too.)

  • kendoll

    Politicians rarely fall on their own sword but always sniffing and pandering at the next chance for a money donation.

  • the crustybastard


    Every one of your examples refers to state legislatures and state courts. The article is about the Democrat’s NATIONAL platform and legislators at a FEDERAL level.

    Reading is fundamental.

    >>“And there has been monumental movement for LGBT rights in the Democratic Party — even with President Obama.”

    Obama has stated that his Christianity informs his position on marriage equality. When your religion — not the Constitution — dictates your public policy positions, you’re a theocrat.

    Obama has defended the military gay ban and DOMA in EVERY Constitutional challenge gay rights groups of gay individuals have brought. He lied about having some “duty” to do so. When he loses, rather than allowing gay people their victory, he appeals his loss. This is also gratuitous, since he likewise has no obligation to appeal.

    Moreover, Obama has manufactured some ridiculous and absurd notion that a law that infringes on the rights of a gay minority can be at once unconstitutional AND enforceable. This is an impossibility, as anyone who passed a semester of Constitutional law should be able to explain to you.

    Monumental movement? No. Not even close. This is incrementalism at best.

    >>“FFS, how good do you think Mitt Romney or Rick AssSpooge will be on LGBT issues?”

    I think Santorum and Romney would allow their religious beliefs to dictate their positions on public policy. I think they would both defend against every constitutional challenge to antigay discrimination, appeal every loss, and continue to enforce DOMA.

    I think the difference would be that when Romney and Santorum enforced DOMA, they would believe there was a Constitutional basis for doing so.

  • LandStander

    I’m very happy to see the two senators from Oregon, Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden are on this list! I love my representatives :-)

  • Marc

    Eventually, I believe both parties will grow in their support of marriage equality. But something I just wanted to throw in to the mix of insanity. I see a lot of pro-Republican comments from time to time on this site attacking Democrats over their lack of support for marriage equality; somehow oblivious to the irony of the fact that they are attacking the most supportive of the two party system while defending a party that has on multiple occasions publicly denounced and attacked the gay community.

    Their argument seems to be that because Democrats are only 50% supportive; their the exact same as Republicans (who are about 2% supportive;) because it’s the same. Well, simply, it’s not. Yeah, we want and deserve more support from the Democratic party; but the answer to getting it sure as heck ain’t shifting our support to the Republicans, a party that not only does not support us; but makes attacking us a crucial plank in their national, regional and local platforms.

  • Marc

    @the crustybastard: So…what exactly is your point? Democrats aren’t perfect so we should…? Pressure them for more support? Absolutely. Continue our lobbying efforts to insure they are aware of LGBT concerns? Again, I would agree. Shift our support to the Republicans? Now, you need counseling. If there were a third major party AND they were more supportive than the Democratic party on LGBT issues, then sure we should back them. But there isn’t. And the Democratic party is clearly the leader when it comes to LGBT support. So, it wouldn’t even be fun to debate the fact that the Democrats are really our best bet.

    And not voting (just in case, that “brilliant” strategy rears it head,) is just as self-defeating. So we don’t vote and an anti-gay Republican wins, potentially setting the stage for an extremely uphill battle to not only secure recent wins from repeal efforts; but to implement new pro-equality initiatives as well. Yeah…”brilliant.”

  • 1equalityUSA

    Marc, those pro-repubs might be paid trolls to sway opinions. Every time I read their comments, the ulterior motives factor occurs to me. Your #14 comment was right on. I haven’t been able to fork over dollars to Dems, but voting Green seems to be dangerous to our cause this year. This carrot has been dangling in front of our community too long. The Dems need to put up or shut up. If it doesn’t happen in the second term, I’m so done with this party.

  • NovaNardis

    The Democrats aren’t perfect, and I don’t think any right thinking person should claim that. But to claim that, on the balance, that Democrats and Republicans are even remotely equivalent is ridiculous.

    Take this article. There are 22 Democratic senators that support marriage equality. By a long shot, that is enough. By I defy you to tell me how many Republican senators support marriage equality. I’m pretty sure the answer is a nice, round, number. In fact, tell me how many Republican members of Congress in either chamber support equality.

    I think Illena Ros-Lehtinen is the only one — the only single Republican in Congress out of nearly 300 of them — in favor of DOMA repeal. Are there some Democrats who are worse than some Republicans, and some Democrats who just suck in general? Are there allied Republicans? Absolutely. But given the sheer weight of the numbers, pretending there is some equivalence between Dems and Republicans is stupid.

    If there is a Democrat who will want to run for President in 2016 who DOESN’T support equality, I will be shocked. Get ready for Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

  • the crustybastard

    @Marc: So…what exactly is your point?

    I thought it was pretty plainly stated.

    “Democrats aren’t perfect so we should…?”

    Did I demand that Democrats be “perfect”? No, I did not. Straw man argument. Strike one.

    “Shift our support to the Republicans? Now, you need counseling.”

    Did I suggest this, or even say anything favorable about Republicans? No, I did not. Straw man II, with an splash of false dichotomy and ad hominem. Well done, asshole. Strike two.

    “If there were a third major party AND they were more supportive than the Democratic party on LGBT issues, then sure we should back them. But there isn’t.”

    The Green party has had full LGBT equality — including marriage — as part of its platform SINCE ITS INCEPTION. But you’re not big on facts, so I’m sure that will prove of little interest to someone like you. Strike three.

    You’re out.

  • NovaNardis


    If we all vote for Ralph Nader, we’ll have marriage equality? Remember how that went in ’00? You can’t pretend that national election laws aren’t stacked against third parties. That’s how it is. It sucks, but it’s the truth.

    Pretending that that isn’t the case doesn’t make you the smartest man in the room, it makes you the biggest chump.

  • Marc

    @the crustybastard: My goodness you are one shining parody of an intellectual aren’t ya?! For someone with your, no doubt, exceptional command of facts and conventional wisdom, I find it odd that you would even suggest support be thrown behind a party that has not only failed to win ONE presidential election; but has yet to be anything other than a distant third; and only be default. So instead of throwing our support behind the most supportive of the two most prominent and powerful political parties, you’re answer is to essentially throw our votes behind a party with no realistic chance of having truly significant influence in the political arena; thus taking away votes from the Democrats, the most supportive party, and by default giving the least supportive party, the Republicans, an strong edge; yeah…that’s smart.

    And for the record throwing around the straw man argument, ad hominem, etc. doesn’t make me wrong, it makes you a pretentious asshole. If you want to “put me in my place” I would recommend actually disproving my statements versus attempting to Webster’s dictionary-me to death.

    You’re right on one account however, in that I was wrong for assuming you supported the Republican party. For that I apologize. But your solution is no better than actually doing so.

  • adfdsfa

    Hmm, another article that has no knowledge of the American political system and makes quick irrational judgements, yay sensationalism! I forgot how hard it is too look at the senate and it’s rules and realize that we have 51 Democratic senators and the fact that recent political trends basically point to a 60 seat majority in order to pass any bill without it being filibustered the moment it hits the floor. Also here’s a real news article you should read clarifying Obama’s views for those who cannot grasp it.

  • Robert in NYC

    All the whining and bashing the democrats, how many republicans have started their own plank for marriage equality? Forget the civil libertarians, a republican offshoot that believes that both DOMA and marriage equality are fine as long as both are legislated. It has NO problem with referenda either.

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