Showing posts with label Democrats. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Democrats. Show all posts

March 30, 2017

$Money$(Russian Linked?) Being Pumped to Gorsuch Appt.


This story posted by  on Esquire
The original tittle  Finally the Democrats are getting how politics work

There's been a lot of stirring on the Neil Gorsuch front. More and more Democratic senators seem disinclined to allow the Senate to give his nomination a vote. Chuck Schumer seems immovable on the subject. (The same cannot be said, alas, for Claire McCaskill, who seems distressingly ambivalent on the topic. My guess? She goes over the side.) Meanwhile, the Republicans are unsure whether or not they want to blow up the filibuster to install Gorsuch on the Supreme Court. (My guess? Boom!) A lot of this ambivalence, I believe, is rooted in their vestigial conscience as a party.
They know what they did to Merrick Garland. They know why they did it to Merrick Garland. At some level, they know how ridiculous their whining about how roughly Gorsuch has been treated sounds to anyone with a short-term memory that extends back to 2015. The longer this stretches out, the more time their vestigial conscience has to work on them. At the same time, Schumer's argument that a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should not be doled out by a president who is under FBI investigation is beginning to bite just a little. People are getting a little antsy about the amount of dark money pushing Gorsuch's case. And Gorsuch did himself no favors by trying to bury the Senate Judiciary Committee under an avalanche of smug non-answers. (Dark money? What's that? Is that trying to find the pants in which you left your wallet?) There's more going on here than there was a month ago.
So the job of bucking up the Senate majority is left to its good friends outside the caucus room. For example, the National Rifle Association has stepped up bigly. It's in for a million bucks, which, of course, will not cause Gorsuch to sacrifice his ability to judge a gun control case fairly. You can also tell how nervous Gorsuch’s supporters have become because, once again, we are seeing the Keep The Powder Dry argument floating through the discourse. This is the political strategy by which Democrats give the Republicans what they want on the assumption that they will be able to assert their power at some vague point in the future. The only minor flaw in this plan is that it never works. The Democratic Party must have an airplane hangar somewhere filled to the rafters with dry powder. Nonetheless, the idea is back again. Here’s some superb concern-trolling from a former Republican flack, brought to us by Tiger Beat On The Potomac:
The problem for Schumer and his caucus is this: Republicans are not bluffing when they say Gorsuch will be on the court one way or another. The squishes, the institutionalists, even the erstwhile "Gang" members are unwavering in their support. Gorsuch is well-qualified for the job, acquitted himself admirably by any measure, and if an unprecedented partisan filibuster is the only thing standing between him and the bench, the Reid Rule will be invoked for the second time.
Here it comes…
But saying Republicans have the political will to put Gorsuch on the court is different than saying there are 50 GOP senators who are otherwise prepared to end the filibuster. Their appetite is entirely a function of circumstance. Were Democrats to lay off Gorsuch, keeping their powder dry for the future and maintaining the moral high ground, it would be rather easy to imagine the Susan Collinses, John McCains and Lindsey Grahams of the world getting cold feet with a lesser Trump pick, particularly one who shifts the balance of the court rather than maintaining it. Which is to say that Gorsuch's nomination is something of a perfect storm for GOP procedural fortitude. Only seeing such a model jurist held hostage to cynical political whims would be enough to compel the righteous indignation necessary to go nuclear.
And then comes the point where the author shoots his own argument through the head, and gives anyone with that aforementioned short-term memory a chance to tell the author to piss off.
(I'll pause here so my friends on the left can let out a primal scream for poor Merrick Garland.)
Piss off.
What happened to Garland—who couldn't even get a private meeting with a single Republican senator—changed the political context irreparably. Because of that, you can't just tell the Democrats that it's to their advantage to wave off what was done to Garland, much less to roll over for Gorsuch, without sounding naΓ―ve or ignorant. History tells us that the fight for which the Democrats "keep the powder dry" never occurs. Recent history tells us that there is no compelling political reason to put Neil Gorsuch on the court ahead of Merrick Garland. If the Republicans want to blow up the filibuster to do it, they should suck it up and take the political risks that doing so entails.
(I'm not entirely sure that those risks are that great, at least in terms of getting Republican senators re-elected.)
But one thing that makes me feel good about the building resistance to Gorsuch is that the Democrats in Congress seem at last to be bridling at the notion that "bipartisanship" is primarily the responsibility of their party, that they don't necessarily have to be the grown-ups in a room where childish vandals roam free, and that, sooner or later, the Republicans have to take responsibility in real time for the damage they do. Chuck Schumer is under no obligation to salve the consciences of the people who stiffed Merrick Garland—and, by the way, there is no requirement that the Supreme Court be "balanced" ideologically—by giving them exactly the result they wanted a year ago.
Touch off the powder for a change.

November 12, 2016

Millions of Votes Still Being Counted)))Were Dems.Flipped or Stayed Home?

Donald Trump didn’t actually flip many Democrats, the thinking goes. Instead, Hillary Clinton failed to turn out liberal voters who had previously voted for Barack Obama. It’s a tempting narrative for smarting progressives, as it maintains status quo thinking—Clinton’s unlikable!—and removes any culpability on the part of the Democrats for missing a massive shift in the electorate. In other words, it’s Clinton’s fault, not theirs, that Trump won the presidency.

Unfortunately, that graph is missing something important. (And not just a properly scaled y-axis.) The numbers that came out on Election Night were enough to secure Trump the presidency, but they weren’t complete. State officials are still counting millions of provisional and absentee ballots, and within two weeks, Clinton will likely have another few million votes in the bank. 

Most were cast in the Clinton-leaning states of California, Washington, and New York—not swing states—so they won’t change the Electoral College. But there’s a sufficient amount to put her within striking distance of Obama’s 2012 turnout, and help put an end to the argument that she simply didn’t work hard enough.

“We probably have about 7 million votes left to count,” said David Wasserman, an editor at Cook Political Report who is tracking turnout. “A majority of them are on the coasts, in New York, California, and Washington. She should be able to win those votes, probably 2-1.” By mid-December, when the Electoral College officially casts its ballots, Wasserman estimates that Clinton could be ahead by 2 percentage points in the popular vote.

What’s with the delay? Several states, notably California and Washington, have liberal absentee and mail-in voting laws. California, for instance, allows residents to submit ballots up to three days late (although they must be postmarked on or before Election Day). These provisions have made alternative voting pretty popular, and the ballots a bit harder to count. California alone has more than 4 million votes pending; Washington is waiting on another 700,000.

This has happened before. David Leip is the one-man band behind The Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections, a website cataloging vote totals all the way back to the early days of the Republic. He remembers seeing much of the same vote-counting hysteria after Election Day in 2012, when it appeared Obama would fall far short of his 2008 total. “They did the same thing—‘Oh my goodness, look at all those missing votes,’” he said. From the numbers he’s seeing, California is due for a record turnout, and possibly other states are as well. It’s too soon to tell, he cautions, if Clinton’s total haul, which currently sits at 60.6 million, will match or surpass the 66 million votes Obama received in 2012.

But let’s be clear: While these uncounted votes may grow Clinton’s popular lead, they absolutely will not change the course of the election. That math is settled; Trump holds an insurmountable lead in swing states, which turned his popular defeat into a sizable electoral victory. All the votes in liberal-leaning New York and California will not change that.

However, these ballots will knock the legs out beneath the argument that Clinton failed to mobilize Democrats. Yes, she’s no Obama in 2008. (Neither was Obama in 2012.) But county-by-county results indicate Democratic voters flipped for Trump, not that they stayed home. “We just saw massive shifts in the industrial midwest from ’12 to ’16, and those are the same voters,” Wasserman said. This is the conclusion Democrats must face, and in the absence of other data, it’s the one they’ll have to live with. 

July 26, 2016

Party Unity Under Trump and Clinton- Interactive Graph

 File photo

Both Michelle Obama and Bernie Sanders gave strong endorsements for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during the first night of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. While Sanders urged his supporters to unite with the party under Clinton, the first Lady Spoke of the importance of electing Clinton as the first female president, just as her husband changed the nation as the first African-American president.

Include the following visualizations to illustrate public opinion on issues brought up during the first night of the DNC, as well as democratic primary outcomes, and a lineup of major speakers at the DNC.

July 25, 2016

Timothy Kaine As Liberal as They Come?

Image result for liberal stamp

For those who know Sen. Timothy M. Kaine well in his home state of Virginia, there is rich irony to the blowback from liberal advocacy groups upset that Hillary Clinton did not pick someone more progressive to be her Democratic running mate.

“Throughout his time in politics here, there has always been this question about whether Tim Kaine was too liberal for Virginia,” said Bob Holsworth, a longtime political analyst. “No one has ever suggested this was a moderate who couldn’t be counted on to support liberal values.”

Before entering politics, Kaine worked as a civil rights lawyer, focusing on housing discrimination affecting African American families and representing inmates on death row. He began his political career in 1994 by winning a seat on Richmond’s City Council, whose majority-black members selected him as mayor four years later.

In the two decades that followed, Kaine rose through the political ranks to serve as Virginia’s lieutenant governor, governor and U.S. senator.

In those positions, he successfully pushed a smoking ban in restaurants in a state where tobacco giant Philip Morris is a major employer. He advocated gun control in a state where the National Rifle Association has its headquarters. He spoke out against the death penalty in a leading state for executions. And he’s remained a close ally of labor groups in a state that prides itself on its right-to-work status.

“I don’t understand it,” said Mo Elleithee, a friend and longtime Democratic operative who once worked for Kaine. “My sense is most of the progressives who’ve been concerned don’t know him and have another candidate they would have preferred.”

The critique in recent days from national progressive groups — some with ties to Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.), the runner-up in the Democratic primaries — has focused on a handful of issues, related primarily to trade and banking. And some liberal activists have expressed dismay that Clinton passed over Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), a darling of the party’s left wing whom Clinton had dangled as a possible pick.

On Sunday, Sanders said during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he would have preferred Warren. Sanders said Kaine is more conservative than him but praised his Senate colleague for being smart and “a very nice guy.”

Winnie Wong, an Occupy Wall Street veteran who founded the group People for Bernie, said Clinton’s pick of Kaine showed “a woeful disregard to the progressives who fought so hard this year to create conditions for transformational change this country desperately needs.”

Norman Solomon, the coordinator of a group billing itself as the Bernie Delegates Network, called Kaine “a loyal servant of oligarchy.”

“If Clinton has reached out to Bernie supporters, it appears that she has done so to stick triangulating thumbs in their eyes,” said Solomon, whose organization claims to represent hundreds of Sanders delegates attending the convention in Philadelphia but is not coordinating with the campaign.

Kaine’s stance on trade has been at odds with progressive groups, particularly over the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a pending trade pact being championed by President Obama but opposed by most liberal interest groups and most liberal Democrats in Congress, including Sanders.

Kaine was one of 13 Senate Democrats who voted in June 2015 to grant Obama “fast-track” authority to push the deal through Congress.

“Why would I not give to this president the same tools to negotiate a trade deal that other presidents had?” Kaine told reporters Thursday, the day before he was picked to be Clinton’s running mate. Speaking of the deal itself, Kaine also said, “I see much in it to like.”

During her tenure as secretary of state, Clinton called the pending pact the “gold standard” of multinational trade, but she has since announced her opposition, and Kaine is expected to fall into line, citing some of the same reservations.

Kaine also drew fire from liberal groups for signing a bipartisan letter last week urging the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to “carefully tailor its rulemaking” regarding community banks and credit unions so as not to “unduly burden” the institutions with regulations aimed at commercial banks.

Kaine said that the letter merely reflected the differing environments under which different kinds of financial institutions operate, but the activist network Democracy for America, which backed Sanders in the primaries, said his action should be “disqualifying” for any potential Democratic vice-presidential pick, calling it an attempt to “help banks dodge consumer protection standards.”

Holsworth, the longtime Virginia political analyst, said that part of the friction between Kaine and these groups can be attributed to an evolving definition of what it means to be a progressive.

Kaine’s progressivism is rooted in a civil rights and social justice tradition, Holsworth said.

But now “there’s a growing emphasis on more adversarial relationships with large institutions,” including Wall Street firms and large corporations, he said. “That’s not the kind of tradition Tim Kaine comes out of.”

Most governors, Holsworth argued, tend to be more sympathetic to businesses, because part of their job is attracting them to their state. And in the case of Virginia, which is home to one of the nation’s larger deep-water ports, it’s also important to understand the benefits of trade.

“There are particular issue areas where Kaine can be vulnerable to the progressive critique, but when you look at his entire career, it’s hard to say he isn’t closer to them than the Blue Dogs or other more moderate factions,” he said.

Kaine is also considered well to the left of Virginia’s senior senator, Mark R. Warner, a venture capitalist and one of the Senate’s wealthiest members. The political distance between the two is often overlooked, given that Kaine served as lieutenant governor during Warner’s tenure as governor, and some cast Kaine’s 2005 bid for governor as an extension of Warner’s service.

Neil Sroka, communications director for Democracy for America, one of the liberal groups that have been critical of Kaine, said there’s much to like about him.

“His record on civil rights and guns is unquestionable,” Sroka said, but he argued that doesn’t erase his group’s concerns. “A willingness to take on the corporate establishment is essential to this election,” he said.

Kaine’s boosters say they’ve been puzzled by the progressive groups that have spoken out against his being chosen.

Since winning his Senate seat in 2012, Kaine has won perfect or near-perfect scores from an array of liberal interest groups, reflecting a record that is in line with their positions on abortion rights, gun control, gay rights and labor interests.

In 2013, Kaine also made history with a floor speech entirely in Spanish, an address in support of an immigration law overhaul.

During her introduction of Kaine to a national audience Saturday at a rally in Miami, Clinton repeatedly called Kaine “a progressive who likes to get things done.”

Elleithee and others point to several defining moments in Kaine’s career that speak to his progressive values.

In his race for governor, for example, Kaine was hit hard by his Republican opponent, Jerry W. Kilgore, for his personal opposition to the death penalty. Kilgore ran television ads that featured family members of murdered Virginians denouncing Kaine.

Kaine countered with an ad in which he stared straight into the camera and declared his position a matter of faith — but pledged to carry out the law. As governor, he did allow executions to continue but vetoed bills seeking to expand the application of the death penalty. 

Kaine also clashed with Republican legislators early in his term when he sought to appoint an old friend and longtime labor leader to be secretary of the commonwealth, a position responsible for making thousands of appointments to state boards and commissions.

In a rare move, the House of Delegates voted down the nomination of former AFL-CIO state director Daniel G. LeBlanc, citing concerns about his long-standing opposition to “right to work” labor laws.

In an interview, LeBlanc described himself as “one of those guys who was pushing for the Democrats to be more progressive in Virginia” and praised Kaine for what he did next: appoint him to another Cabinet-level position that didn’t require confirmation by the legislature.

In that position, which LeBlanc described as a workforce development “czar,” he was able to work in areas closer to his expertise.

Kaine’s national politics also have showed a progressive bent. During the 2008 presidential cycle, he was the first governor outside of Illinois to endorse Barack Obama.

April 19, 2016

Clinton Primary Performance with Black Voters//Black Vote Pivotal

Polling in the state of New York shows Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders closing the gap with frontrunner Hillary Clinton. The African-American vote, however, will likely be a decisive factor in Tuesday's primary elections.
Below are visualizations overviewing the Democratic candidates’ past primary performance in counties with above average African-American populations and a map highlighting African-American population by county in New York.{Bring curser over graph to get the latest numbers)

Latest Poll for the Democratic Primary Today

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump lead the polls in the hours running up to the New York primary election. The results of Tuesday's balloting will prove crucial in determining each party's nominee for the November election.
Below are visualizations depicting polling trends in New York for Democrats. On the GOP side there is no doubt that Trump will win with a large margin.

September 4, 2012

NC Vote Could Turn Against Over Gay Marriage

Raleigh, N.C. -- North Carolina, host of theDemocratic National Convention starting Tuesday, is among the closest of swing states, with polls showing President Obama and Mitt Romney locked in a statistical dead heat for much of the past year.
Four years ago, Obama won by only 14,000 votes out of 4.3 million cast, becoming the first Democrat to take the state since 1976. Repeating that win - and grabbing North Carolina's 15 electoral votes - would make Romney's path to victory a lot tougher. But the state's 9.6 percent unemployment rate is among the nation's highest, and Obama's challenge this year is wrapped in the racial and sexual politics of the Bible Belt.
The Rev. Patrick Wooden, pastor of a 3,000-member conservative congregation here, says Obama crushed his chances to repeat when he declared his support of same-sex marriage in May - the day after North Carolina voters in 93 of the state's 100 counties overwhelmingly approved the state's Amendment 1 banning it.
"I hope as many African Americans as possible are offended by his position," said Wooden, an African American who helped lead the anti-gay marriage campaign and has long opposed Obama. "I hope that even if they don't vote for his opponent, they just leave that part of the ballot empty."

Praying over vote

Many of the congregants in Wooden's Upper Room Church of God In Christ express conflicted feelings with the same phrase offered by Ieisha Hall: "I'm praying on it." The 37-year-old voted for Obama four years ago, in part because "as the mother of three sons, a big part of it for me was the history of" supporting the first black president.
"If God says so," Hall said she will leave her presidential ballot space blank rather than vote for Romney, even though he opposes same-sex marriage. "I know he does, but I just don't believe in Mormonism," Hall said, echoing a sentiment expressed by many congregants.
To win, Obama needs 80 percent of blacks to support him - and 80 percent to turn out, said Michael Munger, a professor of political science at Duke University who knows the state's roiling political turf well; he was the Libertarian Party's candidate for governor in 2008. Even if it only muffles black enthusiasm, "Obama hurt himself" with his same-sex marriage stand, Munger said.
Other analysts argue that Obama's self-described evolving view on gay nuptials will have a minor impact on his chances. The real challenge is deciphering the state's demographics, which change by the hour. When asked to list the state's battlefields, an Obama field organizer ticked off a dozen cities and towns from the Tennessee border to the Atlantic Ocean.
"While there may be people who, in church settings, have issues with same-sex marriage, I have not heard a lot of congregants say they wouldn't support (Obama) because of that," said J. Kameron Carter, an ordained Baptist minister who is a professor of theology and black studies at Duke.
While churchgoing African Americans are part of the core of opposition to same-sex marriage, Carter, who supports Obama, said: "Black churches here are taking a more nuanced approach lately. They are differentiating more between important cultural issues and their political priorities."
Sitting in the student center on the North Carolina State University campus, Alexandria Pitts, a 19-year-old elementary education major who is African American, said, "My religion is Christian, but I'm still going to vote for Obama. My politics and religious beliefs are separate."
Rather, marriage is one of many issues the campaigns are scrapping over in a state which, like four years ago, is expected to be decided by only a few thousand votes. For months, supporters of both campaigns have saturated North Carolina's TV markets with $56 million in campaign ads, and Obama has visited more than a dozen times since taking office.

Changing demographics

But the state looks different than it did four years ago.

Charlotte, which grew faster than any urban area in the nation during the past decade, continues to grow at a 3 percent annual pace as immigrants from more liberal areas move to the largest financial center outside New York.
The number of voting-age African Americans and Latinos, in particular, has grown, and the home of Duke, the University of North Carolina and North Carolina State has seen the number of registered, college-age voters boom in four years. Polls show the Medicare reform plan by Romney's running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, is unpopular. And Obama still has a favorable rating while Romney does not.
Yet political observers acknowledge that Obama's campaign, which had the air of a movement four years ago, has lost some of its dazzle. To encourage people to get involved this summer, the campaign offered a ticket to Obama's Thursday night acceptance speech to volunteers who worked nine hours over three shifts for the campaign.
"The novelty has worn off," said the Rev. Philip Cousin, the chairman of a 77-year-old civil rights organization in Durham who organizes Obama volunteers, largely in the state's black churches. He has recruited as many volunteers as four years ago.
"It is always harder to talk about substance," he said. "But with President Obama, we have a lot of positive substance to talk about."
At the state's largest university, 36,000-student North Carolina State, students say they're repeatedly stopped as they cross the Brickyard, a central campus courtyard, by clipboard-toting Obama volunteers asking if they've registered to vote.
"At least four times," said Hailey Lisi, 19, a fashion textile management major who said she would probably vote for Obama.
That kind of grassroots organization helps analysts and partisans explain why Obama is virtually tied with Romney even though the state's unemployment rate is the nation's fifth-highest.

GOP bastion

Despite North Carolina's demographic changes, it is still home to voters who elected GOP Sen. Jesse Helms to five terms. Helms is perhaps best known in the Bay Area for holding up the confirmation of former San Francisco Supervisor Roberta Achtenberg to a Clinton administration position "because she's a damn lesbian."
Redistricting changes - led by a Republican-dominated Legislature - are expected to flip what was a Democratic-dominated congressional delegation into GOP control. Democratic Gov. Betty Perdue was so unpopular that she chose not to run for re-election, eliminating another source of help for Obama. Plus, this is a union-unfriendly, right-to-work state, sapping another source of the president's support. There are 300,000 more registered nonpartisan voters than in 2008, further clouding the picture.
"While Obama may have some demographic advantages here, he doesn't have a good story to tell," said Dallas Woodhouse, director of the state's chapter of Americans for Prosperity, the conservative group founded by the billionaire industrialist David Koch. "But Romney hasn't won the state yet. He has to come here and win it."
by Joe Garofoli is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: jgarofoli@sfchronicle.comTwitter: @joegarofoli
They claim everyone gay or straight is “free” to live as they “choose.” But not if they choose to get married. Or enter into a civil union or domestic partnership. Or choose to give their children health insurance. Or choose to protect themselves from domestic violence. Those freedoms and choices are apparently reserved for an overclass. And they say “nobody has the right to redefine marriage.” And then they proceed to point out that 30 other states have redefined marriage as the union between a man and a woman. If marriage is what they say it is, I’m not sure why 30 states and North Carolina really need to make extra sure marriage is what they say it is. And I’m not really sure why this current definition is better than the historic one where women were property and interracial marriage was banned. This seems like an attempt to impose a very modern redefinition of marriage in the state constitution and call it the definition God really intended.
So, all in all, a confusing and ahistorical ad. I’m not even sure they got the Biblical part of this right: there is no mention of banning gay people from getting married in the Bible. And Jesus doesn’t mention gays at all.   

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Democrats About to Make History and Embrace Gay Marriage

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., speaks during a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, July 19, 2011, to announce plans to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Photo: Luis Alvarez, AP / SF 
Eight years after California Sen. Dianne Feinstein said the push for legalizing same-sex marriage was "too much, too fast, too soon," the Democratic Party will make history Tuesday when it is expected to be the first major party to endorse same-sex marriage in its platform.
While the plank packs no legal power, it marks a cultural milestone.
"Another important societal cue that things are shifting," said Amy Simon, an Oakland pollster who is working for advocates who are pushing to legalize same-sex marriage in Maine and Washington. "As people are working through their conflicting feelings on this, they're looking for cues, and this is another one."
The platform declaration could spark political blowback, and one of the nation's leading opponents of same-sex marriage already is trying to make it an issue in pivotal swing states that have passed laws codifying marriage as a union of one man and one woman.
"By doing this, the Democratic Party is basically telling voters in places like North Carolina and Florida that they're a bunch of bigots," said Sacramento consultant Frank Schubert, the strategist behind California's Proposition 8 and similar campaigns opposing gay unions in four states where marriage is on the ballot in November.
The National Organization for Marriage began airing radio ads last week in North Carolina, targeting religious African Americans.
But analysts and pollsters say the issue is unlikely to be as volatile or powerful as it was in 2004, when 11 states put same-sex marriage bans on their ballots after then-San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom approved issuing wedding licenses to gay couples. Public support has grown since then, and now an average of 50 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage, according to the most recent polls.
But support in the polls has not translated into support at the ballot box. Voters have denied granting same-sex marriage rights 32 times when the issue was put before them. Voters in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington will decide the question this fall.
On Tuesday in Charlotte, delegates to the convention are also expected to support overturning the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act - signed by Wednesday night's keynote speaker, President Bill Clinton - which recognizes marriage only as between a man and a woman.
Democrats are trying to placate those with religious concerns: "We also support the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference," a draft of the platform language states.

Obama's evolution

The party has come a long way in just four years, when it stopped short of endorsing gay nuptials, not wanting to contradict the stance of its nominee, then-Sen. Barack Obama. Obama said his views on the subject were "evolving."
Activists were so frustrated with Obama's position that some wore buttons saying "Evolve Already" at a White House reception last year for gay community leaders.
But when Obama expressed his full support for same-sex marriage in May, "that was a defining moment," said Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, a member of the party's platform committee. "It was a very clear political position that he supported marriage."
Tuesday's adoption of the platform, she said, "is a testament to (the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community, which would not give up."
As the Democrats prepare to endorse same-sex marriage, Republicans hardened their opposition to it at their convention in Tampa, Fla., last week.
In the platform approved at the GOP convention, Republicans vowed to uphold marriage between a man and a woman "as the national standard" and promote it "through laws governing marriage.”

The GOP even sought to cast the issue in economic terms, saying "the future of marriage affects freedom. The lack of family formation not only leads to more government costs, but also to more government control over the lives of its citizens in all aspects."

Dissent stifled

When Margaret Hoover, a GOP strategist and CNN commentator, tried to get her party to soften its platform, National Organization for Marriage President Brian Browndescribed her position as "seditious" in a blog post Friday, deriding same-sex marriage supporters as "Margaret Hoover Republicans."
"This position really hurts the party with Millennial generation voters," Hoover said. "It helps codify feelings among younger voters, particularly, that the party is out of touch."
Hoover has helped to raise $1.8 million for American Unity PAC, which will support three pro-gay-rights Republicans this fall, including Rep. Mary Bono Mack, R-Palm Springs. Bono Mack has stopped short of endorsing same-sex marriage, saying only that it "is a states' rights issue."
GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney's position on same-sex marriage has evolved in the opposite direction of Obama's.

Romney's pro-gay record

In 1994, when Romney was running for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts against the late Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy, he sought the endorsement of the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay and lesbian GOP group.
In a letter he wrote to the state chapter, Romney pitched his gay-friendly credentials: "I am more convinced than ever before that as we seek to establish full equality for America's gay and lesbian citizens, I will provide more effective leadership than my opponent.
"If we are to achieve the goals we share, we must make equality for gays and lesbians a mainstream concern. My opponent cannot do this. I can and will."
Now, Romney supports marriage only between a man and a woman - in tune with his party's platform.
by Joe Garofoli is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: jgarofoli@sfchronicle.comTwitter: @joegarofoli

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