[Image, above: Screen shot from ABC News's This Week on Sunday, Feb. 19, 2012. Image, below: Gibbs.]
The question of whether marriage equality will be a part of the Democratic Party platform this year was placed to the Obama campaign squarely today. The response: “I don’t know.”
ABC News’s Jake Tapper, guest hosting This Week, today asked former White House press secretary for President Obama and senior campaign advisor Robert Gibbs the question. Citing Metro Weekly‘s exclusive report about House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)’s support for the plank’s inclusion, Tapper asked whether, in the context of Obama’s “evolving” thoughts on marriage equality, the platform would include such a plank.
Gibbs: “I don’t know the answer to that.”
In answering, he said that he hadn’t spoken with Obama on the issue and focused in on opposing employment discrimination, but he said, more broadly, that people shouldn’t be judged based on their sexual orientation when “applying for a job or doing anything.”
Left unstated is whether “getting married” is a part of Gibbs’s “anything.”
The exchange was at the end of the interview before a commercial break, so Tapper had no chance to ask a follow-up question right then and there.
The full platform plank, proposed on Feb. 13 by Freedom to Marry, states: “We support the full inclusion of all families in the life of our nation, with equal respect, responsibilities, and protections under the law, including the freedom to marry. Government has no business putting barriers in the path of people seeking to care for their family members, particularly in challenging economic times. We support the Respect for Marriage Act and the overturning of the federal so-called Defense of Marriage Act, and oppose discriminatory constitutional amendments and other attempts to deny the freedom to marry to loving and committed same-sex couples.”
Since Pelosi’s announcement, made in response to a question asked about the plank by Metro Weekly, the co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus also announced their support for the plank.
The platform — a detailed statement of the party’s positions that will be finalized at the Democratic National Convention to take place in Charlotte, North Carolina, this September — has never included language in support of the right of same-sex couples to marry.
Obama, opposed marriage equality in the 2008 campaign. He said in December 2010, as referenced today by Tapper, that his position on marriage equality was “evolving” but that he still “struggle[s]” with it. Obama’s current White House press secretary, Jay Carney, said this past week of Obama’s position, “You know his position, where it stands now, on the issue of same-sex marriage, so I really don’t have much to add on that.”
Obama currently supports much of the Freedom to Marry plank language — outside of the marriage equality language itself. He has endorsed the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal DOMA, and, as Carney and Gibbs have said repeatedly, opposes “divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same-sex couples” such as California’s Proposition 8.
Gibbs’s response to Tapper today marks the first on-the-record response from the Obama campaign on the issue of the platform plank. Metro Weekly had made several requests previously for comment about the platform plank to the campaign.
READ the exchange between Tapper and Gibbs:
TAPPER: Very quickly — we have about 20 seconds left — Nancy Pelosi came out and said she supports a plank in the Democratic Party’s official platform that would say, quote, “We support the full inclusion of all families in the life of our nation with equal respect, responsibilities and protections under the law, including the freedom to marry.”
I know the president says he’s, quote, unquote, “still evolving” on this issue. Will there be a same-sex marriage plank in the Democratic Party platform this summer?
GIBBS: Jake, I don’t know the answer to that. And I don’t know — I haven’t talked to the president at all recently on this issue.
I think we all look to and want to live in a world where, if you’re applying for a job or doing anything, you’re not judged on your sexual orientation. You shouldn’t be. And I think living in a society where that doesn’t happen is a society we all want to live.
WATCH the exchange (at 7:50 in the interview):