Testimony of Marc Solomon before the Democratic National Committee’s Platform Drafting Committee

July 27, 2012

Mr. Chairman, members of the Platform Drafting Committee, good afternoon. My name is Marc Solomon, and I serve as National Campaign Director of Freedom to Marry, the campaign to win marriage for same-sex couples nationwide. I'd like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to testify today in support of inclusion of a freedom to marry plank in the Democratic Party platform.

Freedom to Marry has led this campaign to secure a marriage plank in the platform. We've enlisted dozens of members of Congress, four former party chairs, and more than 40,000 Americans who have asked the Democrats to say, "I do" to the freedom to marry.

Several years ago, when I headed up the fight to protect the freedom to marry in Massachusetts--our nation's first marriage state for gay and lesbian couples-I had the great honor of working extremely closely with two members of this committee. Congressman Barney Frank was a tireless advocate, making the personal case to many, many state lawmakers. I remember Barney telling one conservative state representative, a bit tongue-in-cheek, "What if I want to get married someday?" Well, this year Barney did marry the love of his life, and there are same-sex couples in Massachusetts who have already celebrated eight years of marriage, to their great joy and the great joy of their loved ones. Ex officio committee member, Governor Deval Patrick, was also a passionate champion every step of the way who did not even know at the time he was fighting so hard that the freedom to marry that he was championing could someday apply to his wonderful daughter Katherine.

And one other Massachusetts hero who is no longer with us also dedicated himself to his cause, the late, great senator, Ted Kennedy. In one of his last addresses, Senator Kennedy said:

"For all my years in public life, I have believed that America must sail toward the shores of liberty and justice for all. There is no end to that journey, only the next great voyage."

President Barack Obama became the first sitting president to join us in this journey by supporting the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples. He came to support marriage the same way so many Americans have in the last few years: through getting to know loving and committed gay and lesbian couples and learning more about their families, their challenges, and their dreams - and realizing just how similar they are to the families, challenges and dreams of all Americans.

The Democratic Party has a noble history of fighting for the human and civil rights of all Americans. Living up to that legacy, Democratic lawmakers have provided the vast majority of the support for the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples in states and in Congress, even as ending exclusion from marriage is now becoming a bipartisan cause.

Democratic governors throughout the country understand. They are leading the way for the freedom to marry in their states. Governor Andrew Cuomo made marriage a top legislative priority and led the effort to pass the marriage equality law in New York. Deval Patrick championed that freedom in Massachusetts. In Washington, Maryland, and New Hampshire, Democratic governors spoke up strongly and fought hard to pass and protect freedom to marry laws in their states. They recognize it is the right thing to do for all of the citizens they represent.

And it is not just governors. More than 250 Democratic mayors, from Kansas City to San Antonio, Juneau to Denver, Los Angeles to Boston, and Cincinnati to Tallahassee have joined Mayors for the Freedom to Marry. In addition, 170 Democratic members of Congress have cosponsored the Respect for Marriage Act, the bill would repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act.

These leaders reflect how far voters have come in supporting the freedom to marry. A May 2012 CNN/ORC International poll found record support -- 54 percent of Americans, including 70 percent of Democrats, 60 percent of Independents, and 73 percent of voters between the ages of 18 to 34. For Democrats, support is no longer a risky proposition; instead, it's becoming increasingly difficult both morally and politically to justify not supporting marriage for gay couples.

Political professionals agree. According to the National Journal Political Insiders Poll a year ago, 84 percent of Democratic operatives said their party should embrace marriage, compared to 59 percent just two years ago. I imagine it's close to 100 percent today. In the words of one political consultant who responded to the poll: "It's going to happen. We might as well start to lead."

Seven years ago, I worked closely with Congressman Frank and other Democratic Party leaders in Massachusetts to get a marriage plank included in the state party platform. Since then, a number of other states -- both those with the freedom to marry, like Iowa, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont -- and those that have not yet enacted marriage laws, like New Mexico, Texas, and Wyoming -- have followed suit.

Five additional states and the District of Columbia have joined Massachusetts as freedom to marry states, with we hope three more to follow this November.

It's now time for the national Democratic Party to not only come on board, but lead the way forward.

On behalf of Freedom to Marry the campaign, the many loving and committed same-sex couples and their loved ones--both married and not-yet married--living throughout America, the supermajority of Democratic voters and the majority of all Americans, I ask you to say "I Do" to the freedom to marry and lead on this journey of liberty and justice for all, the one about which Senator Kennedy spoke so eloquently and to which he was so powerfully dedicated.

Again, thank you for your time.