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Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa backs gay marriage plank for Dems (video)

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The chairman of the 2012 Democratic National Convention, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, said during a Politico function on Wednesday that he supports the gay marriage legalization plank in his party’s platform.

“I think it’s basic to who we are,” Villaraigosa said of the issue he has long supported. “I believe in family values and I believe that we all ought to be able to have a family and marry if you want to. I don’t think the government should be in that business of denying people the fundamental right to marry.”

Villaraigosa also criticized the GOP for wading into social issues.  

"The Republicans have gotten so far out of the mainstream," according to the mayor. "I mean, at a time when all of us should be focused on the economy, they’re focused on contraception and mammograms."  

The Senate recently rejected an amendment to a transportation bill that would have allowed employers to deny coverage for birth control or any health procedure they found morally objectionable.  

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has signaled her support for a gay marriage plank, but says she's speaking for herself - not the party or the President.  The issue could alienate both moderate Democrats and religious African American voters, bases that are crucial to an Obama reelection.  

Another key demographic for Democrats this November will be Latino voters.  Some suggest it was a wise move to choose the Latino mayor of the nation’s second largest city to head the party’s convention this summer.  But Villaraigosa says Latino voters won't turn out just because of him.

"They don’t come out because of who is the surrogate for the candidate," according to Villaraigosa. "They come out because they support the candidate."  

The mayor cited a Fox poll that showed support among Latino voters for the President at about 70 percent, but also admitted that getting out the vote was key.

Villaraigosa has been asked to campaign for the president in several states, including Virginia, Nevada and New Mexico.

In 2008, Barack Obama won about two-thirds of the Latino vote. 

Meanwhile, Villaraigosa says he will leave the specifics of the pro-gay marriage platform to the convention delegates.