Last night my editor emailed me, asking if I wanted to comment on a press release from the national group Freedom to Marry, which announced that still more of President Obama's campaign co-chairs have signed on to FTM's campaign to add marriage equality to the Democratic Party platform. The Advocate had the scoop:
U.S. senator Michael Bennet of Colorado joined California attorney general Kamala Harris and U.S. representatives Jan Schakowsky of Illinois and Charles Gonzalez of Texas in favoring Democratic platform language that affirms marriage rights for same-sex couples.
Organized labor's representation on the committee — the AFL-CIO's Maria Elena Durazo of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor — has also indicated her support for adding to the platform. All five are among the 35 national cochairs tasked with on-the-ground outreach and advising the campaign on key issues.
FTM launched this campaign with a stunning "get": House minority leader Nancy Pelosi was the first endorser. Of course, the campaign is partly an effort to educate Democratic leaders and get them to go on record in support of something that the majority of Democrats—and country—now support. It's also an educational campaign. When I asked Evan Wolfson, FTM's founder and marriage-equality visionary, the point of this effort (after all, who reads party platforms) he told me:
It's significant if and when one of our two major parties makes it official that this is a vision that they share with the majority of Americans .... One of the building blocks we’ve used in many states is to have state parties debate and adopt marriage resolutions. In New York, the Democratic Party had a debate over several years about whether to go on record in support of marriage equality. That was one of the sources several officials cited in helping their thinking along and creating more comfort for them.
Obama has not, yet, endorsed marriage equality publicly. But as more and more of the country supports it, I do start to wonder: Why not? Marriage equality isn't quite the winning issue that contraception is yet—but it's getting there fast.
In related news, over at Salon, Thomas Schaller got Ken Mehlman, former Republican strategist who managed George W. Bush's 2004 campaign, and who has since come out as gay, to go on record apologizing for being involved in anti-gay campaigns, specifically the 2004 inflammatory campaigns against same-sex marriage:
As for his role in the 2004 Bush campaign and its exploitation of marital politics, Mehlman is candid—and remorseful. "At a personal level, I wish I had spoken out against the effort,” he says. “As I’ve been involved in the fight for marriage equality, one of the things I’ve learned is how many people were harmed by the campaigns in which I was involved. I apologize to them and tell them I am sorry. While there have been recent victories, this could still be a long struggle in which there will be setbacks, and I’ll do my part to be helpful."
And the Human Rights Campaign has named Chad Griffin its new president, replacing Joe Solmonese. HRC has long been known as an exceptionally inside-the-beltway institution, and Griffin has spent the past decade or so out on the left coast. He is best known for launching AFER (American Foundation for Equal Rights) and for hiring Boies and Olson to launched the controversial Prop 8 lawsuit. Here's how The Advocate describes the hire:
A major fundraiser for the Obama campaign who began his career in the early days of the Clinton White House, Griffin will replace current president Joe Solmonese at the helm of the $40 million organization on June 11, HRC announced Friday following a board of directors vote. Solmonese, who joined HRC as president in 2005 and said in August that he would leave after his contract expires at the end of this month, will continue in his role until June. Solmonese was named a national co-chair for the Obama campaign last month.
In its pick of Griffin as president, HRC chose someone who was shaped from an early age by Washington political culture, yet who is not defined by it, having spent the vast majority of his career outside the Beltway. Griffin, 38, is a fervent supporter of President Obama with personal ties to White House officials. But, he has pushed the bipartisan case for marriage equality, notably hiring former George W. Bush solicitor general Theodore Olson to co-lead the Prop. 8 suit and aligning with conservatives including gay former Republican National Committee chair Ken Mehlman, who has raised money for the legal effort.
Two more states pass equal marriage laws, and it barely cracks the news (Ho-hum, Maryland governor signs marriage bill, pass the butter, please). A former Republican strategist says the issue of marriage equality has shifted from being a loser to a winner, saying "opposing equal rights is a net negative that gets problematic to more voters each year.” Staid HRC, which once wouldn't have touched marriage equality (or anyone associated with it) with a proverbial ten-foot pole, hires one of its more controversial proponents to run the shop. Democratic Party movers, shakers, and stalwarts are lining up to endorse gender-neutral marriage laws. That bounciness you see at the bottom of your screen? That's Tigger, unable to control her excitement at how quickly the times, they are a-changin'.
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