Democrats meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina on Tuesday approved a party platform which includes support for gay marriage, making it the first major party to make such an endorsement in its platform.

Delegates to the Democratic National Convention ratified the platform which was approved by a committee meeting last month in Detroit.

The plan includes a plank titled Freedom to Marry, which calls for “equal respect, responsibilities and protections under the law” for all families. It also calls for passage of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the 1996 law which forbids federal agencies from recognizing the legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples.

Openly gay Minnesota State Senator Scott Dibble said he expects the platform's language to have an affect on the outcome of a proposed amendment which would define marriage as a heterosexual union in the Minnesota Constitution.

“This is an issue whose time has come,” Dibble told Minnesota Public Radio. “This is not an issue that is at the margins. This is a fundamental, mainstream, bread-and-butter issue. A major political party is stepping up just like they have done in the past, on behalf of people who have otherwise been unable to participate in our larger civic life.”

Appearing on MSNBC, Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest gay rights advocate, said the inclusion sends a positive message to LGBT youth.

“It sends an incredible message to LGBT young people across this country – that they are equal citizens of this country and they can grow up with the same dreams and aspirations as their friends, their families, and their colleagues at work,” Griffin said. “It truly is historic.”

The Democratic platform is a sharp contrast from the GOP platform ratified last week by Republicans meeting in Tampa. The Republican document supports a federal “constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman” and “campaigns underway in several other states to” amend their constitutions to define marriage as a heterosexual union. The plan also criticizes President Barack Obama for his decision to no longer defend DOMA in court.