The contrast between the Democratic and Republican conventions has already been stark, but perhaps no distinction stood out more than the attentive inclusion of LGBT people. Almost every speaker last night made at least some passing reference to LGBT equality, including celebrations of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and endorsements of marriage equality. Several of the speakers, including Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), DNC Treasurer Andrew Tobias, and DNC CEO Stephen Kerrigan, were openly gay.
Tobias juxtaposed Democratic economic policy with his own experience growing up gay.
TOBIAS: The Democratic Party under the leadership of Barack Obama has dramatically improved the lives of millions of lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual Americans and at no cost to anyone else.
In college, I thought I was the only guy in the world who liked other guys. Later I found there was someone else like me, our 26-year-old resident tutor. He and I never talked about it at the time. No one talked about being gay back then. People killed themselves over being gay. Tragically, some kids still do. But, the progress we have made. Eight weeks ago, I attended that young tutor’s wedding! To a guy! He and I never talked about it at the time. Love that had been unspeakable 46 years ago was celebrated by hundreds of people—straight and gay, surfers and senators.
In a way, it was a wedding that married my two topics — money and equality — because that young tutor had grown up to become the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Barney Frank.
Congressman Polis presented a distinct vision for a unified American diversity:
POLIS: But ladies and gentlemen, now is our chance to tell the dividers no, tell the special interests and cynical Washington insiders no, tell the lobbyists and PACs no, and tell our fellow countrymen and women, gay and straight, Christians, Jews, Mormons, Muslims and nonbelievers, rich and poor, black and white, Latino and Asian, east and west, north and south; it is time to tell them yes, together we are stronger, together we are better, together we are America.
And that is why we must continue bringing America together. So tonight, I don’t just ask my fellow Americans to respect my relationship with my partner Marlon and my role as a father to our son. I also ask them to respect the Christian family concerned about decaying moral values and crass commercialism. I ask them to respect the difficult decision of a single mother to bring a child into this world, because of her heartfelt beliefs.
Actor Kal Penn reflected on what it was like the day Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal passed but the DREAM Act failed, and also highlighted that his friend Kevin was now able to watch his boyfriend graduate from Marine Corps training:
And in her deeply sincere speech about the importance of family, First Lady Michelle Obama described an American Dream that includes LGBT people:
OBAMA: Barack knows the American Dream because he’s lived it…and he wants everyone in this country to have that same opportunity, no matter who we are, or where we’re from, or what we look like, or who we love…If farmers and blacksmiths could win independence from an empire…if immigrants could leave behind everything they knew for a better life on our shores…if women could be dragged to jail for seeking the vote…if a generation could defeat a depression, and define greatness for all time…if a young preacher could lift us to the mountaintop with his righteous dream…and if proud Americans can be who they are and boldly stand at the altar with who they love…then surely, surely we can give everyone in this country a fair chance at that great American Dream.