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Will Democrats back marriage equality?

Although recent polling indicates that gay marriage is one of the least important issues for Americans this election cycle, there’s going to be plenty of gay-rights issues on the ballot come November. In addition to the several states voting to legalize or ban gay marriage, there’s growing movement for the Democratic Party to officially endorse marriage equality as a party platform.

More than a dozen state representatives to the Democratic Party are calling on the party to endorse gay marriage and so are dozens of city mayors and other party leaders. Park City’s own Mayor Dana Williams has come out squarely on the side of marriage equality.

But is it enough momentum?

Vice President Joe Biden told NBC’s Meet the Press that he’s “absolutely comfortable” with gay couples receiving all the same civil rights and liberties as heterosexual couples and that marriage should be about love, not politics.

“I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women and heterosexual men and women marrying one another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties,” Biden said in the interview.

However, Biden was quick to acknowledge that it was not his place or role to legislate or make social policy. A spokesperson for President Barack Obama insisted that Biden did not break ranks with the president who does not support marriage equality but has said his views on the issue are “evolving.”

Poll after poll indicate rising support nationally for marriage equality, and it appears that gay couples in Maine, Maryland and Washington will have the chance to say “I do” by next year. Coupled with the looming victory in the Proposition 8 case and allowing gay marriage in California, for many Americans, the line in the sand is already drawn, and team marriage equality is winning. So why won’t the president and the Democratic Party jump on the winning bandwagon?

One of the deciding factors in the case challenging Prop. 8 that is likely to make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court is whether or not the judges feel the U.S. citizenship is ready for gay marriage. While this may not be fair and the decision should probably be made on legal merits alone, with a monumental case that could lead to the legalization of gay marriage around the nation, the justices will consider the social implications of their decree.

Steps such as having a major political party and the current president of the United States voicing public support for marriage equality could potentially sway the court’s vote and be the deciding factor in pushing justices Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas toward making the right decision.

The sooner the Democrats and the president get behind marriage equality, the less embarrassing it will be for them in the history books.

Conservative British Prime Minister David Cameron put it quite simply when he said, “If marriage is good for heterosexuals, it is good for gay couples too.”

Seth Bracken

Seth Bracken is the editor of QSaltLake

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