The Democratic Party are expected to announce support for equal marriage rights in their platform later today. This would make them the first major US political party to do so.

Many analysts and gay-rights advocats have already said that around 50% of Americans are now in favour of marriage equality, and that, if the Democrats announce approval at their National Convention, Charlotte, North Carolina, it shouldn’t have a major negative impact at the election in November.

Some anti-marriage-equality advocates have argued that making such an announcement would be damaging to the Democrats’ election campaign:

“By doing this, the Democratic Party is basically telling voters in places like North Carolina and Florida that they’re a bunch of bigots,” said Frank Schubert, strategist of Proposition 8.

Some critics have said that the Democratic party are attempting to limit the damage to their religious following, who may have concerns about the change in policy:

“We also support the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference,” read a draft of the platform language, according to Chron.com.

Amy Simon, of Oakfield, an advocate of equal marriage for Maine and Washington said:

“Another important societal cue that things are shifting,”

“As people are working through their conflicting feelings on this, they’re looking for cues and this is another one.”

Party platforms don’t actually represent any legally bound policies, however, the decision by the Democrats to endorse equal marriage rights would be a huge cultural milestone.

On 9 May, Barack Obama, the president of the United States, announced in an interview with ABC News that he thought gay couples should have the same legal right to marry as heterosexual couples.

The Republican Party announced last week, approval on their platform which would ban any hopes of marriage equality, and all abortions, at the GOP national convention in Tampa, Florida.