By Catalina Camia, USA TODAY
Democrats took an initial step toward endorsing same-sex marriage for the first time in its party platform.
If approved by the full platform committee in August, the plank on gay marriage would mark the first time such a recommendation is included in a major-party platform.
The party would then have to ratify the language at the Democratic National Convention, running Sept. 3-6 in Charlotte, where President Obama will be formally nominated.
"Like Americans from all walks of life, the Democratic Party has recognized that committed and loving gay and lesbian couples deserve the right to have their relationships respected as equal under the law," said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, in a statement. "I believe that one day very soon the platforms of both major parties will include similar language on this issue. There is no more American value than honoring and protecting one's family."
Gay marriage is one of those heated, social issues that separate President Obama and Mitt Romney. In May, Obama changed the dynamics of the gay marriage debate when he said publicly for the first time that same-sex marriage should be legal. Romney is opposed to gay marriage.
The decision by the Democrats' platform-drafting panel was first reported by The Washington Blade. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., told the Blade there was a "unanimous decision" by the platform-drafting committee at its meeting this weekend to include the gay-marriage plank.
An unnamed Democratic official would not comment to the Associated Press on the specific language of the gay-marriage plank.
The National Organization for Marriage, which opposes same-sex marriage, told the AP that it would rally supporters of "traditional marriage" to ensure this is a key issue in the presidential election.