August 1, 2012 | by Chris Johnson
Carney defers to DNC on marriage in Dem platform

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney deferred to the Democratic National Committee a series of questions on Tuesday about the implications of including same-sex marriage in the Democratic Party platform.

Under questioning initiated by Sirius XM Radio’s Jared Rizzi, Carney deferred to the DNC when asked whether President Obama would “embrace a national campaign to promote marriage equality.”

“And I would simply refer you to what the president has said and what his personal views are, and then to the DNC for what I understand is a process that is still developing as regards to their platform,” Carney said.

Carney similarly deferred a question from the Washington Blade on whether the administration thinks the inclusion of a marriage equality plank in the party platform should prompt Democrats running for office who don’t support same-sex marriage — including Jon Tester of Montana, Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Tim Kaine of Virginia — to reconsider their position.

On Monday, the Washington Blade first reported that the 15-member Democratic Party platform drafting committee decided to include a marriage equality plank in the initial draft of the manifesto.

A transcript of the exchange between reporters and Carney follows:

SIRIUS XM RADIO: Jay, now that it looks like the DNC will be adopting national gay marriage as part of their platform, will the embrace of that platform be a further evolution for the President on the issue of marriage equality?

JAY CARNEY: I think you heard the president discuss his position and his personal view that it’s wrong to prevent couples who are in loving, committed relationships and want to marry from doing so. With regards to the DNC platform, I think that issue is still being worked out, and I would refer you to the DNC.

SIRIUS XM RADIO: But when the president did discuss that issue, his focus was still on states dealing with it, and this would be something from a national perspective. Would the president, based on what he said in those interviews at that time, would he embrace a national campaign to promote marriage equality? 

JAY CARNEY: Well, you’re conflating a bunch of things about a discussion at the DNC about a party platform to a national campaign. And I would simply refer you to what the president has said and what his personal views are, and then to the DNC for what I understand is a process that is still developing as regards to their platform.

WASHINGTON BLADE: Can I jump in here?

CARNEY: Sure.

WASHINGTON BLADE: I broke the news yesterday on how the platform committee on Sunday included the marriage equality plank in the platform. There are several Democrats down ticket who do not hold the view that they support same-sex marriage including Jon Tester in Montana, Tim Kaine in Virginia, and Claire McCaskill in Missouri. Does the administration believe that the adoption of that language in the platform should prompt these Democrats to reconsider their position as they pursue office?

CARNEY: I would refer you to the DNC, Chris.  It’s, again, as I just said, an issue that’s being developed in the usual fashion as they work on a platform, and I would send you there for that question.

In May, Obama announced that he had completed his “evolution” on same-sex marriage, saying he “just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.” But the president has never explicit talked about the inclusion of marriage equality in the Democratic platform even though he’s the head of the party.

The DNC hasn’t responded to the Washington Blade’s request for comment on the platform’s marriage equality plank. On Monday, White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest deferred on similar question on the language to the DNC.

The Obama campaign has issued a response to the proposed plank on marriage equality and later clarified the statement to emphasize that it isn’t an endorsement.

“The president’s personal views on marriage equality are known. The president and the party are committed to crafting a platform that reflects the president’s positions and the values of the party,” an Obama campaign spokesperson said earlier this month in an email to the Washington Blade.

 

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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