Jerusalem, God amendments to Democratic platform added on close vote

In what can easily be described as an uncomfortable three minutes for the Democratic National Convention, its chairman, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, was forced to take three, apparently close, voice votes from the delegates in Charlotte,  to amend the party’s platform, Wednesday, to include mentioning God and affirming the party’s belief in Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

“Let’s try that again,” Villaraigosa told the crowd, when it was obvious he did not have the two-thirds majority needed to get the amendments included. After the third vote, which seemed just as close as the first two,  he declared, “In the opinion of the Chair, two-thirds have voted in the affirmative, the motion is adopted.”

“After the first one, and then the second one, then the next thing that should have happened, the chair should have called for a divided house,” said Rex Richardson, a delegate from Long Beach, California, adding that’s when “the whip should have gone out and collected votes.”

But, said Richardson, who voted in the affirmative, “The chairman has to make the call, and nobody can make that call but him. He made the call, after the third time, that two-thirds had it, and there it is.”

“My honest opinion of the voice vote was that there was not a two-thirds vote there, but parties get to play how parties get to play,” said Massachusetts delegate, Steve Leibowitz, who also voted for the amendments. “It doesn’t change anything qualitatively about the platform, so it didn’t bother me.”

Richardson agreed. “I read it. It didn’t seem like it was anything I wouldn’t necessarily be down with as a Democrat,” he said, “so I voted in support of it. It didn’t draw a red flag to me.”

The amendments were offered by Gov. Ted Strickland, of Ohio, who was the chairman of the Platform Drafting Committee. According to reports, the White House ordered the change to the platform in response to Republican attacks at the absence of the specific language. In offering the amendment to restore the verbage, Strickland noted, “President Obama recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and our party’s platform should as well.”

“It takes one thing off the table that would come up in a debate or something like that,” conceded Leibowitz.

The C-Span video of the process shows one delegate, near an Arab American Democrats sign, vehemently voting in the negative. According to the Council on American Islamic Relations, there are more than 100 Muslim American and Arab American delegates at the convention in Charlotte.

It should be noted, though, that there were far more than 100 nay votes on the amendment.


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