WASHINGTON -- David Plouffe, President Barack Obama's senior adviser, refused to weigh in on the debate over whether the Democratic Party should embrace marriage equality in its 2012 platform, saying on Sunday that the official drafting process needs to play out.
In the past month, almost half of all Democratic senators, several of Obama's national campaign co-chairs, the House Minority Leader and the chairman of the Democratic convention, among others, have said they support adding marriage equality to the platform. The push is being led by the group Freedom to Marry, which launched a Democrats: Say I Do" campaign on Feb. 13.
What makes this campaign slightly uncomfortable for some Democrats is that the president himself still has not publicly endorsed marriage equality.
On ABC "This Week" on Sunday, host George Stephanopoulos asked Plouffe whether Obama's personal position meant that he was "going to fight the inclusion of this plank in the Democratic platform."
"Well, as you said, the president has spoken to this issue," he said. "I certainly don't have anything to add to that today. We don't even have a platform committee yet, much less a platform, so that."
"Here's what I think is important," he added. "What is going to be in the Republican platform, if they're consistent with what their presidential candidates have said, is to re-institute "don't ask, don't tell," to defend aggressively the Defense of Marriage Act. On the other side, you have the president, who's had groundbreaking progress for gays and lesbians in this country."
As The Huffington Post has reported, this year's Democratic platform, according to sources familiar with early conversations, will likely emphasize the accomplishments made under the president on LGBT rights, such as a refusal to defend DOMA, the decision to grant same-sex couples visitation rights in hospitals, and the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell."
As for the specific issue of marriage equality, no formal meetings have taken place. Yet several variations of new language are already being envisioned, ranging from language that would underscore the need for inclusive employment, non-discrimination legislation and safer schools, to language that would emphasize the benefits of relationships regardless of sexuality, to a platform that championed marriage equality outside the religious realm.
“If the word marriage is used, then I'm all but certain that there will be something very explicitly saying civil marriage and that this has nothing to do with religious marriage,” said a source working with the Democratic National Committee, adding that the hoped-for additions may come at a future convention. “It is possible that there will be one more time without using the word."
The Democratic platform will be ratified at the party's national convention, which begins Sept. 3 in Charlotte, N.C.