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09/05/2012

Day One — defined by inclusion #DNC2012

by Jeremy Hooper

Last night, before hitting the hay after a long day of Democract-ing, I happened to catch out New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn on MSNBC, talking about the chills she felt while watching the First Lady and others mention her family values in their speeches. As a New York City resident who sees Quinn on my tele-box quite regularly, Screen Shot 2012-09-05 At 10.26.23 Am the moment struck me for both its sincerity and specificity. For that moment, Quinn was not speaking as a pundit on "Hardball" who has been briefed within an inch of her life. She was speaking as a woman who is legally married to a woman. The powerful politico (and potential candidate for NYC mayor) was speaking as a child of an America that offered her all kinds of promises but an America that, for people like her, has taken a circuitous—and still quite incomplete—route towards getting there.

I get it. I was in the hall last night, hearing all kinds of specific mentions about my life, my right to serve, my marriage, and my general sense of acceptance. For most of the five hours that I was in that arena, I was all business, taking in all that my physicality would allow, tweeting out bon mots, and bemoaning the dying digital batteries threatening my productivity. But in those moments, when I heard the Democratic party, at long last, lending full-throated, impassioned credence to me and my seat at the table? Not gonna lie—I got mushy.

But it wasn't just the mentions, which the cynical could write off as being (at least) partly motivated by pandering. The even bigger takeaway for me was the reception in the hall whenever LGBT stuff came up. The applause was THUNDEROUS whenever inclusion was put on voice. Every. Single. Time.

One specific moment that sticks out in my mind was the Ted Kennedy tribute video. When it comes to one room's love for one human, it's hard to envision a setting more ripe than a Democratic event that heaps praise on the late "liberal lion." So that being the reality, one can imagine that just about every one of Tedward's accomplishment got a hearty round of claps. But I gotta tell you that when the screen flashed a mention of the late Senator's honorable LGBT work, I was completely caught off guard by how much louder the room got. I'm seriously getting chills thinking about it right now (though full disclosure: I am sitting right under an air vent).

For those of us who grew annoyed during the Bush years, when LGBT rights were being battered by the right and the Democrats who should've been our strongest allies took either meek or silent postures, it's pretty darn cool to see where we have come. Again, this is not to say that we do not have a long ways to go—we do! I also don't want to come across as a cheerleader who thinks the Obama administration has yet to make a mistake on LGBT issues—he has! But the truth is that in a year and a race that is defined by the stark contrast between the two candidates and the two parties on any number of issues, it is nice to finally see, fully and truly, the firm, strong stand that the Democratic party has committed to taking on LGBT rights, protections, and general welfare.

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