Note: Moments after this posted a few weeks back and several comments were offered, Open shut. I offer it again because I think the historical parallels are intriguing and meaningful.
Hubert Humphrey speaking on behalf of civil rights at the 1948 Democratic National Convention, in Philadelphia.
The push for civil rights under law pre-dates any major political party's platform and, arguably, we owe our wins to much more organic, community-driven, even, strident, if not sometimes violent, action.
Yet, as the Democrats recently met, it may be useful to recall the civil rights planks from 1948 -- the first ever from the two major parties -- and to look, now, at the current one.
"The Democratic Party is responsible for the great civil rights gains made in recent years in eliminating unfair and illegal discrimination based on race, creed or color.
The Democratic Party commits itself to continuing its efforts to eradicate all racial, religious and economic discrimination.
We again state our belief that racial and religious minorities must have the right to live, the right to work, the right the right to vote, the full and equal protection of the laws, on a basis of equality with all citizens as guaranteed by the Constitution.
We call upon the Congress to support our President in guaranteeing these basic and fundamental American Principles: (1) the right of full and equal political participation; (2) the right to equal opportunity of employment.
We recommend to Congress the submission of a constitutional amendment on equal rights for women."
"Freedom to Marry: We support the right of all families to have equal respect, responsibilities, and protections under the law. We support marriage equality and support the movement to secure equal treatment under law for same-sex couples. We also support the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference.
We oppose discriminatory federal and state constitutional amendments and other attempts to deny equal protection of the laws to committed same-sex couples who seek the same respect and responsibilities as other married couples. We support the full repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act.
We also support President Obama's commitment to gender equality, protecting a woman's right to choose."
Southern Democrats stalked from the Philadelphia convention in '48 when the civil rights plank was adopted. They said Truman would surely lose. He won. The South, over the next twenty years, self-deported, excommunicated itself from the Democratic Party and found a welcome home in an increasingly reactionary Republican Party.
Yet risk won. Standing for what was and is Just won. We see, for example, in Pennsylvania and elsewhere now, moves to limit the right to vote rightly have failed and are failing.
I am clear-as-a-bell that thoroughgoing equal rights for our LGBT friends, relatives, neighbors, and colleagues will win and that all women and girls will win, the poor and working-classes and the middle classes will win this November and beyond, because winning what is right, while it is about risk, yes, is always about Justice and courage and about what is inevitable in and predictive of our national character.