Democratic platform reveals expanded support for LGBT protections

Language for marriage equality and expanded non-discrimination planks released

CHARLOTTE — The text of two draft planks to the Democratic Party Platform were released last night, including expanded language for marriage rights to same-sex couples and workplace discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) workers.

The language was reported exclusively by BuzzFeed’s Chris Geidner, formerly of the Washington, D.C., Metro Weekly. The drafts are expected to be approved by the full platform committee in Detroit this weekend. Delegates to the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte will vote on final approval of the platform.

Geidner reported that the draft marriage equality plank includes support for expanded marriage rights and opposes anti-LGBT federal state constitutional amendments restricting marriage. It also includes a call to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and pass the proposed Respect for Marriage Act.

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The draft language for a second plank was also released. In it, the party includes stronger, expanded support for workplace protections as well as protections for LGBT youth. For the first time, the plank includes specific mentions of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.”

Read the full language of the two draft planks at the bottom of this story.

On Thursday, Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin applauded the marriage plank’s draft language.

“Marriage equality has quickly become a mainstream American value and it’s a sign of the times that the Democratic Party has included language affirming the ability of gays and lesbians to marry in its draft platform,” Griffin said in a statement to media. “We encourage the Platform Committee and the delegates to the convention to adopt this strong statement that all loving and committed American families deserve equal treatment.”

Meanwhile, transgender advocates and delegates to the convention said they are happy that the plank on workplace discrimination has been strengthened.

Transgender-inclusion in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act took center stage in controversies nearly five years ago when a proposed version of the employment bill failed to include protections on the basis of gender identity. At the time, local, state and national LGBT advocacy groups rallied to support a fully-inclusive version of the legislation. Though the Human Rights Campaign, the largest national LGBT advocacy group, initially supported the stripped-down version, it later announced its support for trans-inclusion. Since then, the bill has mired in the House and Senate.

Steps have been made toward ending anti-LGBT employment discrimination, including a ruling by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that could protect workers on the basis of gender identity. It isn’t clear whether such a standard is being enforced, and President Barack Obama in April declined to sign an executive order barring discrimination by federal contractors.

The new non-discrimination plank also does not include any specific mention of the Student Non-Discrimination Act or the Safe Schools Improvement Act, two bills that would address anti-LGBT bullying, harassment and discrimination in the nation’s public elementary and secondary schools. In April, the president announced his support for the two bills.

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Janice Covington, a transgender convention delegate representing North Carolina’s 8th Congressional District, said she was thankful for Obama’s support of the LGBT community and the move toward support of full marriage rights But, employment discrimination she said is often a more critical issue than marriage.

“[G]iving all LGBT folks the protection from harassment, bigotry and discrimination while trying to earn a living is an American right,” she said.

Marisa Richmond, a transgender delegate from Nashville, Tenn., also welcomed the expanded language but said the plank should include “gender expression” in addition to the existing “gender identity.”

“Those two additional words cover those who are gender variant, gender non-conforming or those who are trans-identified who have not transitioned for one reason or another. It keeps getting left out,” said Richmond, who also serves on the board of directors for the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Richmond noted that no transgender person was included in this year’s drafting committee, which met in Minneapolis last month. Diego Sanchez, a transgender delegate and chief-of-staff for openly gay Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank, served on the platform committee in 2008.

“If we get a seat on the drafting committee in 2016, these omissions will probably not occur any longer,” Richmond said.

Covington also noted disappointment that the new planks don’t address transgender military service. Though the anti-gay “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was repealed in 2010 and certified last year, transgender Americans are still excluded from open service due to medical regulations advocates say are outdated. : :

Marriage equality plank

We support the right of all families to have equal respect, responsibilities, and protections under the law. We support marriage equality and support the movement to secure equal treatment under law for same-sex couples. We also support the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference.

We oppose discriminatory federal and state constitutional amendments and other attempts to deny equal protection of the laws to committed same-sex couples who seek the same respect and responsibilities as other married couples. We support the full repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act.

Non-discrimination plank

We know that putting America back to work is job one, and we are committed to ensuring Americans do not face employment discrimination. We support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act because people should not be fired based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

President Obama and the Democratic Party are committed to ensuring all Americans are treated fairly. This administration hosted the first-ever White House Conference on Bullying Prevention and we must continue our work to prevent vicious bullying of young people and support LGBT youth. The President’s record, from ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in full cooperation with our military leadership, to passing the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, to ensuring same-sex couples can visit each other in the hospital, reflects Democrats’ belief that all Americans deserve the same chance to pursue happiness, earn a living, be safe in their communities, serve their country, and take care of the ones they love.

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Posted by Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.