A lot of people boycotted Chick-fil-A because company president Dan Cathy said they "are very much supportive of the family - the biblical definition of the family unit." Many of those same boycotters voted for Barack Obama in 2008 when he said: "I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Now, for me as a Christian, it is also a sacred union. God's in the mix...I am not somebody who promotes same-sex marriage...."

I'm not calling the boycotters or girlcotters hypocrites; those in support of same-sex marriage simply have more choices when it comes to fast food than they do in voting for President, so they can afford to take a principled stand when it comes to chicken sandwiches. But if you did vote for Obama in 2008, please spare me the dramatic outrage over Cathy's comment.

President Obama's view on same-sex marriage has been, according to him, "evolving." In 1996, he supported gay marriage; in 1998, he was undecided. While campaigning for president in 2008, he did not believe in gay marriage. Earlier this year, following the lead of Vice President Joe Biden, President Obama came out in support of gay marriage, with the qualification it is his personal belief and not the administration's policy. He claims he still believes policy should be up to the states.

Now the Democratic National Committee will include a plank in its national platform supporting same-sex marriage, calling for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and calling for the passage of the "Respect For Marriage Act." DOMA - a signature political success for President Bill Clinton (signed during his 1996 reelection campaign) - affirmed traditional marriage as the standard for the federal government and recognizing the right of states not to recognize a same-sex marriage from another state. The "Respect for Marriage Act" would require states to recognize same-sex marriages from other states.

This isn't a column about gay marriage; this is a column about the politics of gay marriage. For Mississippi Republicans, the politics are easy: they oppose the DNC and President Obama and this policy. Most Mississippi GOP elected officials (and voters) agree with the Mississippi Republican Party Platform: "We believe in the traditional definition of marriage between one man and one woman."

Mississippi Democrats must balance the need of local candidates to get votes and support with the desires of a vocal and liberal activist base which supports the national party and President Obama.

Former Mississippi Democratic Congressman Travis Childers recently expressed concern in a published report, "It is not something that I would agree with, that part of the platform. I think the conservative Democrats, especially in the South, a great number will disagree with that."

One Mississippi Democrat already expressed his disagreement by switching to the GOP. Earlier this year, Leake County Sheriff Greg Waggoner changed parties saying, "In the past few years, as we have heard and as we know, the Democratic Party has taken an extreme left turn. And the things that have come out the last few weeks when our national Democratic leaders have endorsed same-sex marriage. I'm Christian and my first allegiance is to Jesus Christ. There comes a time when you have to stand on what you believe in. And I can no longer have any connection with the Democratic Party if that's the route that they're going to take."

Back in 2002, then Mississippi Democratic Congressman Ronnie Shows introduced an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

In 2004, Mississippi Democratic Party Chairman Rickey Cole dismissed criticism that Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry wouldn't take a position on gay marriage. Cole suggested the issue was not worth national attention: "The President of the United States is a big enough job. He doesn't have time to worry about who's coming to the court house to get a marriage license." That year, nearly a million Mississippi voters approved (86 percent) an amendment to the Mississippi Constitution to provide marriage can only exist between a man and a woman and a same-sex marriage from any other state or foreign jurisdiction would not be recognized under Mississippi law.

In 2008, former Democratic Governor Ronnie Musgrove was running for the U.S. Senate and opposed gay-marriage even as the Mississippi Democratic Party shifted its platform position on marriage. Mississippi Democrats removed their platform plank that said, "Marriage: We believe in the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman." The new platform was silent on marriage. But Musgrove was not silent. At one campaign stop in the Democratic Delta he said, "I'm very conservative. I am pro-life, anti-gay marriage. And again, that's my personal belief, but I think it's also very representative of Mississippi."

Musgrove was correct; his position was very representative of Mississippi. So, will marriage estrange Mississippi Democrats from their national party and candidates?



Brian Perry is a partner in a public affairs firm. Reach him at reasonablyright@brianperry.ms.