2:34am EDT Charlotte, North Carolina (Reuters) — The Democratic Party late on Monday unveiled its election platform, a non-binding political document that party delegates will vote to adopt at the national convention in Charlotte on Tuesday evening.
The document highlights a sharp divide in the economic and cultural agendas of the Democratic and Republican parties going into the November election.
The platform seeks higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans, backs same-sex marriage and a woman's right to have an abortion.
Below are some principles highlighted in the document called "Moving America Forward."
The Democratic Party platform supports gay marriage and equal rights for gay couples, marking a significant change from the party and Obama's stance four years ago.
The party's platform calls for a full repeal of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act and is against constitutional amendments seeking to define marriage as between one man and one women, as the Republican platform supports.
"We also support the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference," the platform document said.
The platform supports a woman's right to seek a "safe and legal" abortion, regardless of her ability to pay.
"We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right," the platform said. "Abortion is an intensely personal decision between a woman, her family, her doctor, and her clergy — there is no place for politicians or government to get in the way."
The Republican Party's anti-abortion platform states that an unborn child has a fundamental right to life and makes no exceptions for pregnancies as a result of rape or incest.
The Democratic Party opposes Republican plans to overhaul Medicare, the popular government-run health care program for the elderly, which Republicans argue is unsustainable.
"We will block Republican efforts to subject Americans' guaranteed retirement income to the whims of the stock market through privatization," the platform document said, adding that nearly 50 million Americans rely on the program yearly.
The platform backs Obama's signature health care law. Its supporters say it improves care and benefits and aims to find cost savings by lowering reimbursements to hospitals and insurers and eliminating waste.
In other sections the platform calls for building on the health care law, which the Republican platform vows to work to repeal.
Democrats call in their platform for extending tax cuts for the families who earn less than $250,000. The platform document notes the typical family has saved $3,600 during Obama's first term.
Obama is also fighting to extend tax relief for working families and people paying for college, while asking the wealthiest and corporations to "pay their fair share" -- a common refrain in his election pitch to voters.
The Democrats' plan says Romney tax proposals could raise taxes on typical families by at least $2,000, would cut taxes for those making over $3 million by an average of $250,000 and would create incentives to send jobs overseas.
The Republican platform pushes tax reform, broadening the tax base and lowering tax rates, which Republicans say will jump-start growth.
The platform defends military funding cuts due to the harsh fiscal climate but says Democrats are committed to a strong military presence to ensure its global leadership and national security.
As commander in chief, President Obama has brought the war in Iraq to a close, dealt blows to the Taliban, and killed leaders of militant group Al-Qaeda, including Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, the platform said.
America and its allies have laid the foundation for a drawdown in Afghanistan and have begun bringing troops home.
"With the support of our allies, the President has outlined a plan to end the war in Afghanistan in 2014," the platform says, adding that the United States will not build permanent bases in Afghanistan.
Republicans have criticized the Obama administration for cutting military funding and being weak against nations facing international sanctions, such as Iran.
The platform document said the American immigration system is in need of comprehensive reforms. Republicans are blamed for blocking past efforts.
Democrats seek to repair the system in a way that brings "undocumented immigrants out of the shadows" and requires them to "get right with the law, learn English, and pay taxes in order to get on a path to earn citizenship."
The Republican platform calls for a mandatory nationwide requirement that employers verify the legal status of their employees and rejects any amnesty for illegal immigrants.
(Reporting By Eric Johnson; Editing by Alden Bentley)
© 2011 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.
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