Saturday, April 25, 2009

Dems Overwhelmingly Pass Platform Advocating "Marriage Equality"

I should have blogged this hours ago. Too busy to blog most of this Saturday.

But here goes:

With little debate or discussion Saturday, New Mexico Democratic Party leaders voted overwhelming to approve a platform that includes a call to legalize same-sex marriage.

Three hundred and nine members of the state Democratic Party Central Committee voted for a package of 38 resolutions — which included the “marriage equality” resolution and a resolution calling for the establishment domestic partnerships. Only 35 members voted against passing the resolutions.

The committee met at the Kiva Auditorium at Albuquerque Convention Center.

Actually the state party platform since 2006 has included language about same-sex marriage. But the new resolution is stronger, calling for Democrats to actively push laws to allow same-sex couples to marry.

Party platforms are not binding on candidates and most of the time they are largely forgotten once they are passed.

Even so, Albuquerque lawyer Lynn Perls, a Central Committee who worked for the marriage equality resolution, said the resolution will send a message to national leaders and legislators. “The real meaning of this resolution is the Democratic Party stands for equality for all citizens,” she said.

Santa Fe City Councilor Patti Bushee said before the vote, “It’s important that the progressive party of New Mexico take a stand. Domestic partnerships is old news. We’ve seen in Vermont and Iowa that marriage equality is where we’re heading.

Recently in Iowa the state Supreme Court ruled that prohibiting same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. In Vermont the state legislature passed a law legalizing same-sex marriage.
The vote was strong enough that the legislature was able to overturn a veto by the governor.

But support for same-sex marriage is much weaker in the New Mexico Legislature.

Earlier this year the state Senate voted 25-17 to defeat a bill that would have established domestic partnerships for same-sex and other unmarried couples. Ten of the Senate’s 27 Democrats joined Republicans to defeat the bill, which would have provided far fewer rights to same-sex couples than would legal marriage.

One of those Senate Democrats, Richard Martinez — who also is Rio Arriba Democratic Party chairman — was at the meeting and voted against the platform.

Martinez told a reporter that he believes the resolution will hurt the party. “Marriage is a religious issue and should not be part of the party platform,” he said.

The only Central Committee member to speak against the resolution was Al Kissling, who was the 2006 Democratic nominee for the Southern New Mexico 2nd Congressional District. Kissling moved to have the resolution removed from the package of platform resolutions. Pointing out that he’s a retired minister, Kissling said, “The state shouldn’t push a religious rite.”

However, his motion quickly was voted down.

The 2008 platform said the party is in favor of “outlawing discrimination based on sexual preference, including restrictions on civil marriage, and repealing the (federal) Defense of Marriage Act.”

But the new language passed Saturday is stronger, saying the party “including its members and officers should actively support and advocate on behalf of marriage equality and equal rights for all regardless of sexual orientation, because equal rights under the laws are guaranteed under the U.S. and New Mexican Constitution.”

In addition to passing the platform, the Central Committee re-elected Albuquerque lawyer Brian Colon to another four years as state party chairman. Colon was unopposed for the unpaid position.