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New Democratic Convention Chairman Reiterates Support For Same-Sex Marriage

Antonio Villaraigosa Democratic Convention

First Posted: 02/15/2012 3:33 pm Updated: 02/15/2012 3:54 pm

WASHINGTON -- Newly appointed Democratic National Convention chairman Antonio Villaraigosa on Wednesday seemed to signal support for same-sex marriage being part of the 2012 Democratic Party platform.

Villaraigosa responded to a question about whether he agreed with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that same-sex marriage should be included in the party's official platform. Pelosi endorsed the idea earlier Wednesday.

"It's not for me to dictate, but I support marriage equality," Villaraigosa said during a conference call. "I support marriage equality and have since 1994."

The new leadership role for Villaraigosa, who is the mayor of Los Angeles, does not mean he gets to decide what goes into the party's platform at the September convention. That responsibility falls to a panel put together by Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who said on the call that she will be picking her nominees soon.

The committee will go through "a deliberative process" to decide what ends up in the platform, she said. After holding meetings over several months, the panel will ultimately present its report to party leaders at the convention in Charlotte, N.C.

The issue of marriage equality continues to be an awkward one for President Barack Obama. He has said throughout his presidency that he is "evolving" on the issue. Yet when it comes to other gay rights issues, he has been a champion: He repealed "don't ask, don't tell," he stopped defending the Defense of Marriage Act in court, and he issued executive orders mandating that hospitals treat gay and lesbian couples the same as heterosexual couples.

Just last week, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney reiterated that the president's stance on same-sex marriage had not changed, but he added "that divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights to same-sex couples is something this president has long opposed."

Things could get uncomfortable for Obama if marriage equality ends up in his party's platform while he is still "evolving" on the topic. In addition to Pelosi's announcement of support, the legal world -- and increasingly, fellow politicians -- continues to pass Obama by.

A request for comment from Obama's campaign was not returned.

A reporter asked Wasserman Schultz during Wednesday's call if she supported adding marriage equality to the party platform, but mysteriously, the DNC chairwoman's phone line got disconnected.

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