The Democratic leadership is moving to include a motion in support of same-sex marriage in the official party platform for the first time in history.
According to a Democratic official, the party’s 15-person platform drafting committee voted to include language backing gay marriage during a weekend meeting in Minneapolis.
A source at the meeting told Politico the decision to endorse gay marriage was ‘not controversial.’
The language will not become official until the party’s full Platform Committee meets on August 10 in Detroit.
Democratic delegates will then have to formally approve the platform during the party’s national convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, which opens on September 3.
The decision was first reported on Monday by the Washington Blade, which said the language also rejected the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, a law passed by the U.S. Congress in 1996 that defines marriage as only between a man and a woman and denies federal benefits to lawfully married same-sex couples.
The Obama administration said last year it would no longer support DOMA. President Barack Obama’s Republican opponent, Republican Mitt Romney supports the statute and promises to defend ‘traditional marriage’ if he is elected on November 6.
Prominent supporters of gay marriage redoubled their efforts to include the issue in the Democratic Party’s official platform after Obama announced in May that he supports legalization, becoming the first U.S. president to do so.
Obama will officially accept his party’s nomination at the convention, which marks the start of the fall campaign offensive. Romney will get the GOP nomination a week earlier during his party’s convention in Tampa, Florida.
It was unclear if the party would call for any national action to legalize gay marriage. Obama has said he considers gay marriage to be a state issue, not a federal matter.
Six U.S. states and the District of Columbia have legalized gay marriage, but 30 have banned it.
Gay rights advocates hailed the decision as a significant step forward.
‘I believe that one day very soon the platforms of both major parties will include similar language,’ said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign. ‘There is no more American value than honoring and protecting one’s family.’
The National Organization for Marriage, which opposes same-sex unions, said the move sets up marriage as a defining issue in the presidential election.
‘We will rally supporters of traditional marriage to make sure they realize that the outcome of the presidential election may determine the future of marriage in our country,’ said Brian Brown, the organization’s president.
An organization of black pastors also has come out against the Democratic Party’s decision, announcing plans to launch a national campaign starting Tuesday urging African-American clergymen to withdraw their support of the president.
‘President Obama has not given us the courtesy of a reply to discuss his support of same-sex marriage, and is taking the black vote for granted,’ Rev. William Owens, president of the Coalition of African American Pastors, said in a statement cited by Fox News.
A draft of the pro-gay marriage motion that was circulated in February read: ‘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-sec couples.’
It is unclear whether the Democrats have strengthened the language on the heels of Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage.