A steadily amplifying chorus of gay rights advocates and Democrats, including Los Angeles mayor and 2012 Democratic National Convention chairman Antonio Villaraigosa, have been calling for the issue to be included in the party platform. President Obama's decision to publicly state his support for same-sex marriage has intensified that pressure.
The committee responsible for drafting the party's platform unanimously voted over the weekend to incorporate language in favor of same-sex marriage, Rep. Barney Frank told the Blade.
"I was part of a unanimous decision to include it," Frank, who is openly gay and retiring at the end of his current term, told the Blade. "There was a unanimous decision in the drafting committee to include it in the platform, which I supported, but everybody was for it."
Despite the lack of opposing votes, the move is not finalized. The full platform committee will still weigh in before unveiling the party's official stance at the Democratic National Convention summer.
But there appears to be minimal political risk in enshrining a pro-gay marriage stance in the platform. Obama's declaration in May was more a formal clarification than a reversal -- while he was reticent about articulating his personal beliefs, Obama had signaled his stance by instructing the Department of Justice to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act, a law that prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages.
And while the move likely shored up Obama's support among gay rights advocates, there was little negative backlash. While likely Republican nominee Mitt Romney reiterated his opposition to same-sex marriage, the issue quickly receded as both candidates maintained their focus on the economy.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in May that Obama supported a same-sex marriage plank and pronounced himself "sure it will be" part of the official Democratic platform.
The Blade reports that the drafting committee also approved language rejecting the Defense of Marriage Act, something that would put party doctrine in line with Obama's decision to stop defending the law. The president has regularly rebuffed criticisms that he is ignoring existing law by saying that Congress remains responsible for repealing the Defense of Marriage Act.
The draft also includes language backing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a proposed bill that would bar employers from making hiring and firing decisions based on sexual preference or gender.