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Will gay marriage be part of Democratic Party platform?

Will gay marriage be part of Democratic Party platform?

President Barack Obama has never publicly backed gay marriage instead saying he favors civil unions for same-sex couples.

While Obama has said he is 'evolving' on the issue, there is little doubt he will hold his current position until after the November presidential election.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles Mayor Antonoio Villaraigosa has done his evolving and in recent years become an outspoken proponent for gay marriage – even performing some of the ceremonies of constituents himself.

Villaraigosa is chairman of the 2012 Democratic National Convention and said Wednesday (7 March) that he favors having the legalization of gay marriage as part of the party's platform.

'I think it’s basic to who we are,' Villaraigosa said in an interview with Politico. 'I believe in family values and I believe that we all ought to be able to have a family and marry if you want to. I don’t think the government should be in that business of denying people the fundamental right to marry.'

Villaraigosa is not the only prominent Democrat in favor of having gay marriage plank in the party platform. Eighteen US senators, including California's Dianne Feinstein and John Kerry of Massachusetts.

Last week, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen from New Hampshire led the way by becoming the first US senator to back a gay marriage plank. Her support is especially noteworthy because she is a co-chair of Obama's national campaign committee as is Villaraigosa.

Freedom to Marry has launched an online petition that people can sign, urging the party to include the plank in its national platform.

The group says the proposed language for the plank builds on previous, less explicit planks endorsed over the past two presidential election cycles, and 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.'