Morris: Democrats Weak on Gay Marriage Specifics

June 25, 2018

by Leo Morris

With the candidates all set and the pieces all in place for the fall general election, it appears that gay marriage is the only issue people seem to think is worth talking about in Indiana. So, wanting to do my civic duty and be an informed voter, perhaps it is something I need to understand better.

Obviously, I must start with the Republican Party’s running feud about the matter, since that is the news peg to which all the deep thinkers out there have tied their brilliant analyses.

I get the impression that the GOP state convention was one big, happy party except for this one embarrassing intrusion, like a drunken distant cousin at the family reunion.

And it might be that the dispute is so tawdry that I want to be careful about being associated with Republicans’ preferred definition of marriage. They apparently want their platform to heap scorn on anybody not recognizable as being in a “traditional” marriage, leave them begging for crumbs of acceptance while the rest of us bask in the glow of wedded bliss.

I mean, as someone with conservative instincts, I certainly applaud preserving and nurturing the values that have sustained us. But I don’t hate anybody, and I would never want to discourage people who want to adopt those values.

What I really need to do is study the language of the competing platform planks to make a useful distinction. The media are most helpful in this endeavor, as they almost always are when there is any hint of disagreement among Republicans or conservatives. They carefully spell out the exact language for me.

Discarded (“inclusive”) plank: “We support traditional families with a mother and father, blended families, grandparents, guardians, single parents and all loving adults who successfully raise and nurture children to reach their full potential every day.”

Adopted (“not inclusive”) plank: “We believe that strong families, based on marriage between a man and a woman, are the foundation of society. We also recognize that some families are much more diverse and we support the blended families, grandparents, guardians and loving adults who successfully raise and nurture children to reach their full potential every day.”

I confess to reading the proposals over and over, trying to figure out exactly what everyone is so exercised about.

Yes, one of them expresses a belief that marriages “between a man and a woman are the foundation of society.” Have I been misreading history all this time? Am I delusional in thinking same-sex marriages make up less than 1 percent of the total?

But both of them express support for “loving adults” who “raise and nurture children” to help them “reach their full potential every day.” On the way to emphasizing what is truly important – the well-being of children – both of them sound pretty inclusive. What am I missing?

Perhaps the problem is that the GOP language suffers in comparison to the Democratic Party’s platform stand on same-sex marriage.

On this, the media seem to let me down. They dutifully report that Democrats praise themselves for being on “the right side of history” and declare that “Our party is not of the belief that it can dictate who can raise a family” There’s a shock. But there is not a single suggestion about what Democrats propose as an alternative definition.

I am tempted to dismiss this as another example of the media’s liberal bias. Anything hinting at a crack in GOP unity gets never-ending coverage. Anything that might make Democrats look anything less than perfect gets ignored.

So, I go to the source, the Democratic platform as spelled out on the party’s state Web site. And discover it is not the media’s fault.

The platform’s 22 pages cover everything from a minimum wage and universal preschool to a hate crimes law and redistricting reform, and there is a ton of “we’re all in this together” boilerplate. There is a commitment to civil rights and equality, a commitment to fight discrimination against anybody for any reason, a declaration that “every Hoosier deserves to be treated with basic human decency and “allowed to pursue the American dream.”

But there is not a single thing about marriage. Not one word.

Come on, you progressive warriors. You denounce Republicans for sticking with a traditional definition, but won’t say what definition you’d replace it with? Have some guts. Take a stand.

What I seem to be left with is a Republican view on marriage that might be flawed and open to debate but at least tries to acknowledge modern sensibilities and a Democratic Party that merely assumes I will be satisfied with its reactionary posturing.

Seems like I’ve been here before.

Leo Morris, columnist for The Indiana Policy Review, is this year’s winner of the Hoosier Press Association’s award for Best Editorial Writer. Morris, as opinion editor of the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, was named a finalist in editorial writing by the Pulitzer Prize committee. Contact him at


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