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House leaders join call for marriage equality plank in 2012 national Democratic platform

WASHINGTON – More than half a dozen Democratic Congressional leaders today signed onto Freedom to Marry’s “Democrats: Say I Do” campaign calling for a freedom to marry plank in the 2012 national platform of the Democratic Party.

The signers include three key contenders for the U.S. Senate from swing states: Tammy Baldwin (D-WI); Shelly Berkley (D-NV); and Martin Heinrich (D-NM).

Additional new signers include Ranking Democrat of the House Judiciary Committee John Conyers (D-MI); Judiciary Committee member Mike Quigley (D-IL); former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Chris Van Hollen (D-MD); and Representative Jared Polis (D-CO).

These latest members of Congress to call for a freedom to marry plank join House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Obama campaign co-chairs Charles Gonzalez (D-TX) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), and lead sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and many others.

“This latest group of Democratic Congressional leaders to call for a freedom to marry plank in the 2012 national Party Platform reflects the diverse majority of Americans across the country who support the freedom to marry,” said Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry.

“The support from members of Congress running for state-wide office in swing states shows that there is nothing to fear in being on the right side of history – happily, support for the freedom to marry is not just the right thing to do, it’s the right thing to do politically.”

Freedom to Marry’s proposed plank language states:

The Democratic Party supports the full inclusion of all families in the life of our nation, with equal respect, responsibility, and protection 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-sex couples.

Public opinion data show that 69% of Democrats support the freedom to marry, as well as 59% of Independents and 53% of Americans overall (Gallup, May 5-8 2011).

A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll (Feb. 29 through March 3, 2012) shows that voters who supported President Obama in 2008 are eight times more likely to support a candidate who supports the freedom to marry than a candidate who opposes (40% to 5%); Democrats are more than 4 times more likely to support a candidate in favor of the freedom to marry (39% to 9%); and Independents are two times more likely to support a candidate in favor of the freedom to marry (22% to 11%).

Additional voices in Freedom to Marry’s campaign include 22 Democratic Senators; Los Angeles Mayor and chair of this year’s Democratic National Convention Antonio Villaraigosa; four former chairs of the Democratic Party; Houston Mayor Annise Parker; more than half a dozen co-chairs of President Obama’s reelection campaign; and over 36,000 Democrats who’ve added their names to Freedom to Marry’s Democrats: Say I Do online petition.