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Baldwin calls for marriage equality plank in Democratic party platform

Washington Blade Exclusive
CHRIS JOHNSON | Washington Blade
Monday, April 16, 2012
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U.S. Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin has joined the chorus of those calling for an endorsement of marriage equality in the Democratic Party platform, saying the inclusion of such language would be a “statement of values.”

In an exclusive interview with the Washington Blade on Sunday, Baldwin said the inclusion of same-sex marriage in the platform would be “very important.”

Michael Key, Washington Blade

Tammy Baldwin

“I think that would be tremendous, and we have to be focusing on advancing equality in so many different realms,” Baldwin said. “It’s a statement of values, and I think it’s very important to be included.”

The candidate made the remarks prior to her speech at the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund’s annual brunch at the Washington Hilton.

Baldwin’s support for marriage equality in the platform puts her in the company of nearly two dozen U.S. senators, along with others, including Democratic National Convention chair Antonio Villaraigosa, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren. A former U.S. senator from Wisconsin, Russ Feingold, has also called for the inclusion of the language.

Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, said he “welcomes” Baldwin’s support for a marriage equality plank in the platform.

“Rep. Baldwin, a candidate for the U.S. Senate, joins numerous party leaders and tens of thousands of Democrats who have signed our online petition in speaking up for the Democratic values of freedom, family and inclusion that are the core of the case for the freedom to marry,” Wolfson said.

The platform committee is set to debate platform language when it gathers for the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. DNC officials have declined to say whether the platform will include marriage equality.

Baldwin is seeking the Democratic nomination in the race to represent Wisconsin in the Senate and replace retiring Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.). Her election would make her the first openly gay person elected to the Senate. Baldwin, who has represented Wisconsin’s second congressional district for seven terms, was the first non-incumbent openly gay person elected to Congress in 1998.

During the interview, Baldwin also responded to recent news that the Obama administration won’t issue an executive order at this time barring federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT workers, saying, “We’ve got to keep on organizing.”

Like the White House, Baldwin emphasized the importance of legislation to address the problem — known as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a bill that would bar workplace discrimination against LGBT workers.

“We also have to focus on the importance of passing an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act through the Congress,” Baldwin said. “We embrace executive orders when they can occur. This president has issued several that have advanced our protections as a community significantly, but there’s no substitute for having Congress act in sending the president the bill to sign.”

LGBT advocacy groups expressed disappointment when the administration announced it wouldn’t take executive action against workplace discrimination. Asked why she thinks the administration declined to issue the directive, Baldwin said she hasn’t “been privy to those conversations” on the executive order.

But Baldwin admitted that movement on ENDA is unlikely in the current Congress given Republican control of the House and said the focus should be on increasing co-sponsors for the bill.

Continue reading at the Washington Blade

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