Dallasite who serves on national committee plays key role in adding marriage equality plank to draft in advance of Charlotte convention


DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer

The platform Democrats wrote in Detroit last weekend includes planks supporting marriage equality, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, immigration equality and LGBT-inclusive anti-bullying legislation.

The “freedom to marry” portion of the draft that will be approved at the Charlotte convention beginning Sept. 3 includes a call to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act.

“There was a lot of strong, positive LGBT wording,” said Erin Moore of Dallas, a member of the national Platform Committee.

“With Barney Frank leading the way on drafting, I wouldn’t expect anything less.”

Moore was one of seven members of the committee from Texas.

About 100 people attended the final Platform Committee meeting in Detroit last weekend. Moore said about a dozen were LGBT community members from around the country.

Moore, who helped steer a marriage equality plank into the Texas Democratic platform, said the wording for the national platform was in place before the committee met.

The Freedom to Marry section reads: “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. We also support the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference.

“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 full repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act.”

For weeks before the meeting, Moore called committee members to make sure there was general agreement about the wording. In Detroit, the plank passed with little discussion and by consensus.

“The feeling was the national Democratic Party and the president are catching up to Democrats,” Moore said.
LULAC Dallas Rainbow Council president Raul Hinojosa Jr. agreed.

“Last month in Orlando, LULAC passed a resolution supporting marriage equality for all Americans,” he said. “It’s exciting when other organizations stand up and recognize marriage is an important right for all people.”

Another plank calls for passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, tying it to job creation and back-to-work. The wording includes transgender protections.

“We know that putting America back to work is job one, and we are committed to ensuring Americans do not face employment discrimination,” the draft platform reads. “We support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act because people should not be fired based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The platform includes mentions of some of the Obama administration’s accomplishments for the LGBT community, including ending “don’t ask, don’t tell,” passing national hate crimes legislation and issuing an executive order ensuring same-sex couples can have hospital visitation rights. The White House anti-bullying conference held earlier this year at UT Arlington is also listed.

“I’m delighted with the outcome and proud of the work we’ve done with the party,” said Stonewall Democrats of Dallas President Omar Narvaez.

While he wasn’t surprised by the inclusion of marriage equality, he said the strength of the statement impressed him.

“But we passed such an inclusive platform in Texas, I expected the same from the national committee,” he said. “A lot of states sent pro-equality folks to the meeting.”

National Stonewall Democrats Executive Director Jerame Davis called the platform the most inclusive ever passed on either side of the aisle.

“Surprised? No. Pleasantly pleased? Certainly,” Davis said.

He said that the only thing that surprised him somewhat was the relative ease with which the pro-LGBT planks were approved.

Moore said the platform also includes a strong statement on HIV care including increased access to healthcare, medications and funding for education and risk reduction programs.

The platform also supports passage of the DREAM Act. In June, Obama issued an executive order that would implement some provisions of the DREAM Act for persons up to age 30.

The DREAM Act would disproportionately help undocumented lesbians and gays. Heterosexuals have another path to citizenship when they marry a U.S. citizen. Because of DOMA, same-sex marriages are not recognized federally for purposes of citizenship.

The Dream Act would allow those brought to this country before the age of 16 who serve in the military or are in college to apply for citizenship.

In addition, specific language was added regarding LGBT immigration equality.

“For the same reason, we are committed to securing fully equal treatment for LGBT individuals and same-sex couples in immigration and naturalization,” the plank reads.

And in a nod to the work that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been doing with countries that are persecuting gays and lesbians, the platform states, “Gay rights are human rights.”

Moore said that although she was not involved in drafting the language of other parts of the platform, she was interested in the strong support shown for women’s issues as well. The platform includes a general statement of support for Planned Parenthood and a woman’s right to access birth control.

The draft must still be passed by the full Democratic Convention that meets in Charlotte on Sept. 3–6. Davis said he expected about 450 LGBT delegates to participate, the largest number ever selected for any convention.  About 350 LGBT delegates attended the 2008 Democratic Convention.

“For a document meant to get President Obama re-elected, it’s a strong statement on LGBT issues,” Moore said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 17, 2012.