The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) is returning a $5,000 donation from the Democratic National Party after party chairman Howard Dean mischaracterized the DNP platform on gay rights in an interview intended to court the evangelical vote.

Though the New York Times reports that Mr Dean corrected himself amid pressure from advocacy groups to set the record straight, he went on record with the Christian Broadcasting Network, saying the 2004 Democratic platform declares “marriage is between a man and a woman.”

But the DNP quickly corrected that the platform does not define marriage that way, and his remarks prompted the NGLTF to return the donation, despite Mr Dean acknowledging the mistake.

“We need for Governor Dean to demonstrate real leadership on our issues,” executive director Matt Foreman said in an interview with the Times, “not to equivocate depending on the audience.”

Mr Dean had a tall order in front of him in sitting down for an interview with religious conservatives: Conservatives are opposition to the Democratic Party’s positions on abortion rights, gay rights and some other social issues. In the interview, the Times reports that Mr Dean said: “One of the misconceptions about the Democratic Party is that we’re godless and that we don’t have any values.

“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 spirituality.”

One of the major points of contention in the 2004 election was marriage rights, an issue the Democratic party took a notoriously soft stand on. In the interview with the network, Dean said: “The Democratic Party platform from 2004 says that marriage is between a man and a woman. That’s what it says.”

After gay rights groups went public with its complaints about his remarks, he acknowledged: “I misstated the Democratic Party’s platform, which does not say marriage should be limited to a man and a woman.” He then went on to reaffirm the party’s stance on equality rights for all.

Mr Foreman said the governor 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 Mr Dean corrected himself.

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