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September 2, 2014

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Nevada delegates call DNC’s marriage equality platform historic

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Lynne Sladky / AP

Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, NJ, speaks to delegates during the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., on Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2012.

DNC 2012

Washington state delegate Chris Porter from Seattle reacts during the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., on Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2012. Launch slideshow »

Nevada Democrats

State Sens. Steven Horsford and Ruben Kihuen, both Nevada delegates, cheer for Sen. Harry Reid after his speech at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. Tuesday night. Launch slideshow »

CHARLOTTE, N.C.-- The Democrats made a number of changes to their party platform Tuesday night. But likely none was as historic – or emotional – as the party’s new position on marriage equality.

For the first time, Democrats stated in no uncertain terms that they support “equal treatment under law for same-sex couples,” including a repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that defined marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman. The Democratic platform also states the party’s opposition to state laws that “deny equal protection under the law” to same-sex couples.

“This is one of the main reasons I wanted to be here this year,” said Chris Miller, chairman of the Clark County Democratic Party and the first openly gay man to occupy the position. Miller is also a delegate to the convention.

“I get to vote for it the first time it happens,” he said. “It’s historic.”

The vote is especially noteworthy against the North Carolina backdrop. It was just a few months ago that North Carolina passed a law banning civil unions or any other marriage contract. It was just a few hours after that that President Barack Obama told the nation he supported gay marriage.

“A majority of Americans are supportive of same sex marriage now,” Miller said. “That basically happened in the last couple of months.”

“This is our platform. This is our American mission,” Newark mayor Cory Booker boomed Tuesday night as the crowd began to raise a wild and frenzied cheer.

Neither Booker, nor any of the other platform committee members who spoke about it, addressed the topic of gay marriage or marriage equality specifically by name. But the crowd’s enthusiastic reaction inside the arena was clearly prompted by the marriage equality plank.

“This is the demand from the next generation, who call to our conscience,” Booker continued, as across the arena, individuals began madly waving brightly rainbow-colored flags – a symbol of gay pride. “When they proudly proclaim…that we are a nation with liberty and justice for all.”

The crowd in the convention hall shouted those last words with Booker, and nearly drowned out DNC Chairman Antonio Villaraigosa as he asked who was in favor of passing the platform.

But more deafening was the silence that followed when Villaraigosa asked for “all opposed?” Nary a voice was heard. And so the party adopted the platform without dissent.

“I started crying when they passed the platform, and I didn’t stop until Michelle Obama,” said Nevada delegation guest Nancy Kuhns, “And I didn’t stop until Michelle Obama.”

The Democratic platform doesn’t change any laws, nor does it bind any individual to behave or vote in accordance with its tenet. But LGBT activists in the party still pointed to it as their crowning achievement.

“We dance around the marriage issue and try to get LGBT legislation passed, but marriage is the one thing everybody wants,” said Christopher Preciado, an LGBT activist and the youngest member of the Nevada delegation. “But usually, marriage is the last thing we’re going to get.”

But now that a party has committed to it, activists believe it will make their fight for marriage equality, whether at the federal level or the state level, much easier.

“I think now it will be the standard for a Democrat to say I’m pro-marriage equality,” Preciado said.

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  1. Statutes and State constitutional amendments that deny marriage equality will all soon be in the same historical rubbish bin as anti-miscegenation laws.

    We in Nevada made a terrible mistake in passing Article I, Section 21 of our constitution. Let's get that corrected as quickly as possible.

  2. While not arguing against same-sex marriage, I do argue against the state's rights being trampled in the name of "civil rights". States have always had the legality of setting up their laws pertaininng to many things, including marriage. If a conservative state says that two men or two women cannot marry, then so be it. A homosexual couple then needs to get out of that state.

    There is nothing, I repeat, nothing, in the constitution that says marriage is a civil right of everyone. Every state has laws pertaining to marriage, which is why you cannot marry your sister, mother , father , or brother. Most states have laws against marrying your first cousin, or a child under a certain age. The anti-miscegination laws, as wrong as they were, still were the provence of the states.

    The problem with picking and choosing which laws the feds will leave to the states, despite the constitution, is that when the feds are governed by very liberal or conservative folks, they will force their opposing agendas on the states, which will not work very well for most people in those affected places. So much has been done lately which flies directly in the face of the 10 amendment, it is becomming scary.

    Big, central governments have never worked well throughout history (Nazi Germany, Communist Soviet Union, Fascist Italy, most of the countries in the European Union, etc), but here in the US, some folks think we'll be the first to succeed. We won't.

  3. Those that warn of marriage rights being extended to children and animals should remember the basic marriage requirements consent, age and capacity. So unless Fido can bark consent, is of legal age (in dog years?) and has the capacity to understand the concept of marriage, you cannot marry him. For those that are concerned about polygamy, in 1862, the United States Congress passed the Morrill Act prohibiting plural marriage. The public practice of polygamy by the Mormon church was not terminated until 1890, however. As far as pedophilia, under parental consent children as young as 14 can currently marry in some states. However, in most states the age of consent is 18.

  4. The anti-miscegenation laws were ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1967. Is it being suggested that this should have been left to the individual states? That if a conservative state says that couples of different races cannot marry, then so be it? That the couple then needs to get out of that state?

  5. ... Am so proud of thee LGBTQ Community in Vegas-&-S. Nevada, which has come a-LONG-way since I started my 39+yr. career in Print-Journalism at thee "Review-Journal!" ('73) They have made-GREAT-strides, as we-HAVE-in NYS, where we now have "Marriage Equality!" Keep-IT-up sisters-&-brothers!

  6. "There is nothing, I repeat, nothing, in the constitution that says marriage is a civil right of everyone."

    DrJCA1 -- no, but it is included within the penumbra of INALIENABLE right. Although you're right about states having the exclusive right to pass marriage laws, you're wrong about this bit. Nevada's Constitution has its own Bill of Rights, Article I, which leads off with-

    "Inalienable rights. All men are by Nature free and equal and have certain inalienable rights among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty; Acquiring, Possessing and Protecting property and pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness[.]"

    "...a legislative act contrary to the Constitution is not law." -- Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137, 177 (1803)