Dean Misstates Party
Platform on Gays
Howard Dean mischaracterizes
his party's platform
on gay rights
By AP from CBS News
on the Web, May 12, 2006
WASHINGTON, May 11 --
Democratic chairman Howard Dean mischaracterized his party's platform on gay
rights in an interview courting evangelicals, then set the record straight
Thursday when an advocacy group called him on it.
Dean told Christian Broadcasting Network News that the 2004 Democratic platform
declares "marriage is between a man and a woman" -- just one of the points he
made in reaching out to religious conservatives who are largely hostile to the
But the platform does not define marriage that way, and his remarks prompted the
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force to return a $5,000 donation from the
Democratic National Committee.
Dean later acknowledged his misstatement, but the group sent back the money
anyway. "We need for Governor Dean to demonstrate real leadership on our
issues," executive director Matt Foreman said in an interview, "not to
equivocate depending on the audience."
Dean sought to establish common ground with religious conservatives in the
interview on Pat Robertson's network, a tall order considering their opposition
to the Democratic Party's positions on abortion rights, gay rights and some
other social issues.
Dean said that "one of the misconceptions about the Democratic Party is that
we're godless and that we don't have any values."
He went on: "The truth is, we have an enormous amount in common with the
Christian community, and particularly with the evangelical Christian community.
And one of the biggest things that Democrats worry about is the materialism of
our country, what's on television that our kids are seeing, and the lack of
With Republicans embracing the traditional definition of marriage in 2004,
Democrats sought to appeal to such traditionalists without giving up their
support for gay rights.
The result: a platform plank that left the central question about what
defines marriage to the states, and specifically rejected President Bush's
support for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.
It asserted: "We support full inclusion of gay and lesbian families in the
life of our nation and seek equal responsibilities, benefits, and protections
for these families."
Dean stated in the interview: "The Democratic Party platform from 2004
says that marriage is between a man and a woman. That's what it says."
He added that the party differs with some religious leaders in believing
"everybody deserves to live with dignity and respect, and that equal rights
under the law are important."
After the gay rights group went public with its complaints about his remarks,
Dean acknowledged: "I misstated the Democratic Party's platform, which
does not say marriage should be limited to a man and a woman," and reasserted
the party's commitment to equal protection for all.
Foreman said Dean should be persuading Democrats to fight against ballot
initiatives seeking to ban gay marriage, but instead has misrepresented the
party's "important and affirming plank" several times.
"There has been a disturbing lack of clarity from Governor Dean about where we
fit into the party and the country," he said after Dean corrected himself.
Foreman said the $5,000 was for sponsorship of the group's leadership awards
dinner in Washington last week, and will be missed.