Chafee: Gay-marriage plank will help Dems in swing states

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee (I), a former Republican, believes the Democratic Party’s embrace of same-sex marriage will boost Democrats in swing states.

“I think it is going to help,” Chafee, who was a Republican while in the U.S. Senate, told The Hill on Tuesday. “This is the next civil-rights action.”

The formal 2012 Democratic platform, adopted Tuesday, includes first-time support for same-sex marriage.

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By contrast, the GOP blueprint approved at the party's convention last week calls for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the “union of one man and one woman.”

President Obama in May endorsed gay marriage, becoming the first U.S. president to voice support for same-sex couples to wed legally.

After years of “evolving” on the issue, Obama said he had concluded “personally” that same-sex couples should be able to get married.

Chafee, who addressed the Democratic National Convention here, argued there’s an economic case for same-sex marriage.

“Tolerance, talent and technology are the three keys that grow the economy. Those communities, [like] Palo Alto [Calif.], those communities that are tolerant, see their economies booming. So it is not only a civil-rights issue, it is also an economic issue,” he said at the Time Warner Cable Arena.

Rep. Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyHouse Democrats miss chance to help McAuliffe Progressives see infrastructure vote next week Dem hopes for infrastructure vote hit brick wall MORE (D-Va.) told The Hill that he does not believe the platform will hurt Democrats in swing states such as Virginia.

“I think most Americans have sort of ... come to understand and accept that equality for all means equality for all, irrespective of your sexual orientation. And I don’t think they feel threatened by it. A few people do, but I think increasingly a plurality, if not a majority, don’t,” he said.

Asked if the platform would be a political plus for Obama in swing states, he replied, “I think it is probably a negligible to slightly positive issue. It is going to energize part of their base and part of our base.”

A Pew Research Center poll released in late July showed that 48 percent now support same-sex marriage, while 44 percent oppose, marking a substantial rise in support over the last eight years.

Sixty-five percent of Democrats are in support, compared with 51 percent of independents and 24 percent of Republicans, according to Pew.

First lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson Obama'Car guy' Biden puts his spin on the presidency Poll: Harris, Michelle Obama lead for 2024 if Biden doesn't run Son gives emotional tribute to Colin Powell at service MORE referenced her husband’s support for same-sex marriage in her speech to the convention Tuesday night.

“He wants everyone in this country, everyone to have the same opportunity, no matter who we are or where we are from or what we look like or who we love,” she said.