Democratic Presidential Candidates Divided On Same-Sex Marriage

Tue. July 15, 2003 12:00 AM by

Washington, D.C. - Democratic presidential hopefuls debated the LGBT issues today at a forum in Washington but support for same-sex marriage varied among the 7 candidates who took part. Senators John Edwards and Bob Graham did not appear at the forum, sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign.

Only Congressman Dennis Kucinich, former Senator Carol Mosely Braun and Reverend Al Sharpton support legalizing same-sex marriage. However, Braun insisted it's a state rather than a federal issue.

Senators John Kerry and Joe Lieberman, Congressman Dick Gephardt and former Governor Howard Dean endorsed civil unions but not marriage. Kerry and Dean cited religious reasons. It was Dean, who as governor of Vermont pressed for that state's groundbreaking partnership union law.

The audience hissed when L ieberman said marriage is a right reserved in America for men and women.

"Marriage has a special status in our culture, our society, our history," Lieberman said.

The candidates all denounced efforts by Republicans in Congress to push the anti-gay Federal Marriage Amendment .Sharpton urged other clergy to join him in opposing the proposed constitutional amendment.

On the issue of gays in the military there was unanimity. All seven candidates said they supported ending the ban on gays in the military and and the removal of 'don't ask, don't tell.'

Senator Kerry called on President Bush to at least discuss issues important to the LGBT community. "Our President ought to talk to all Americans, and with all Americans," Kerry said to loud applause from the bipartisan audience.

The Missouri congressman holds a narrow lead in most polls in Iowa, site of the first voting of 2004. But former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts have narrowed his advantage.

Kerry has also been saddled with money problems. The former House Minority leader, who hoped to raise $5 million from April to June, collected just $3.87 million - apparently placing him in a distant fifth-place among the nine Democratic contenders.

by Paul Johnson Newscenter
Washington Bureau Chief
©® 2003

This article originally appeared on Republished with permission.