MARRIAGE NEWS: Is 'gay marriage' becoming Dems' 'default' position?
WASHINGTON (BP)--In another example of what some are calling the evolving views of the Democrat Party on the issue, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York -- one of the most prominent members of the Senate -- announced his support for "gay marriage" March 22.
The news may not seem significant at first, but it means that both senators from the nation's third most populous state now support "marriage" for homosexuals. The milestone comes at a time when the state is in the middle of a debate over whether to legalize such relationships. It also means that at least seven U.S. senators, all Democrats, now back "gay marriage" -- a number that could reach eight if Al Franken wins the court case in Minnesota. In 2004, when the issue was prominent during the presidential election, only one senator, Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, backed "gay marriage."
As reported by the New York Daily News, Schumer stated his position for the first time during a private dinner with homosexual leaders and politicians. He also said he backs full repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which gives states the option of not recognizing another state's "gay marriages."
Schumer then confirmed his position in a public statement.
"It's time," the statement read. "Equality is something that has always been a hallmark of America and no group should be deprived of it. New York, which has always been at the forefront on issues of equality, is appropriately poised to take a lead on this issue."
Democratic leaders in the New York legislature back "gay marriage," as does Democratic Gov. David A. Paterson. Having both Democratic senators on board adds pressure to those Democratic legislators who would oppose such a bill or are on the fence. New York's newest U.S. senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, also backs "gay marriage."
Ben Smith, a reporter for Policito.com, called it "an important moment in the marriage fight."
"It's a big deal because it represents support for same-sex marriage moving toward becoming the default, mainstream position of the Democratic Party," Smith wrote.
Elizabeth Benjamin of the Daily News wrote, "It's hard to overstate the significance of this in the eyes of gay marriage advocates. With the ascent of Kirsten Gillibrand to fill Hillary Clinton's vacant US Senate seat, Schumer was the last remaining statewide elected official who backed civil unions over full marriage equality."
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he is urging the state legislature to pass a "gay marriage" law.
The other U.S. senators who back "gay marriage" are Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein of California, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin and Jeff Merkley of Oregon.
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also supports "gay marriage," as does former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean.
Michael Foust is an assistant editor of Baptist Press.