DNC 2012: The Gay Vote

Emma Teitel finds Hope and Change very much alive among LGBT delegates at the Democratic Convention


New York Times columnist Frank Bruni lamented the lack of gayness at the Republican National Convention, especially in light of how keen the GOP was to court other minority voters — women and Latinos, in particular. “You certainly didn’t see anyone openly gay on the stage in Tampa,” Bruni wrote on Sunday. (Apparently Marcus Bachmann had a prior engagement). “More to the point,” he wrote, “you didn’t hear mention of gays and lesbians.”

What the RNC lacked in gay voices, however, and more importantly, gay rights, the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, is making up for in—well—a hell of a lot of gay people. A total of 534 openly LGBT Democrats—the most in convention history—will take part in the DNC this week (the RNC had roughly two dozen). Charlotte will play host to gay and lesbian caucuses and parties all convention long, and openly gay Wisconsin rep. Tammy Baldwin (vying to become the first openly lesbian senator) is set to speak. In many ways, this convention is shaping up to be a kind of miniature political pride parade.

In fact, so great is the number of gays descending upon Charlotte that popular Conservative radio host and professional bigot Bryan Fischer, (the man who shamed Romney’s only openly gay staffer, Richard Grenell, into resigning) has cancelled his DNC appearance, literally fearing for his life. “I’ll miss the fun, and potentially vigorous interviews with folks on the other side of the aisle,” he said, “but I might live longer this way.”

Let’s hope he’s wrong.

The Democrats are expected to officially write marriage equality into their platform on Tuesday, which could give new life to a viciously negative campaign that desperately needs it. After all, as the Republicans rightly pointed out in Tampa last week, Obama’s lofty oratory doesn’t quite resonate in trying times. The best line in Paul Ryan’s convention speech (and possibly the only one based in reality) was his proclamation that “college graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life.”

The only problem is that for many Americans—and the LGBT community, in particular — it isn’t Barack Obama who’s preventing them from “getting going” in life, but the GOP.

I spoke with a number of gay and lesbian delegates last night at Unity Charlotte, what is likely to be the convention’s largest and most stereotypically gay event (Beyonce techno remixes were at full blast all night long), and it became clear to me that while the rest of America is increasingly aloof when it comes to Barack Obama’s last four years, the gay community (Log Cabin Republicans excluded) is decidedly not. What was a dissapointment for many Americans, was overall, a victory for the gays:

“With the president coming out for marriage equality,” says 42-year-old Texan Democrat Jeff Strater, “we’ve seen other elected officials come out in support.” In other words, another term of Barack Obama may mean another term of gay-friendly legislation averse to the kind preventing 30-year-old Erin Goldstein from getting married.

Goldstein, a third-generation North Carolinian and lesbian social worker (“I’m Rush Limbaugh’s worst nightmare,” she says) would like to start a family with her partner, but they want to get married first; something they can’t do in North Carolina, where a recently approved constitutional amendment—amendment 1—prohibits same-sex marriage. And they don’t want to move either. “I shouldn’t have to move to Canada to be treated equally,” says Goldstein.

This is a common sentiment among proud gay southerners. LGBT activist Omar Narvaez, from Dallas, Texas, would also like to marry his partner of 16 years, but he can’t because his state outlaws same sex marriage. “I shouldn’t have to move,” he says, echoing Goldstein. Narvaez believes that Barack Obama can and will (if he is elected) repeal DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act). “That’s not going to fix everything,” he says, “but once we get that fixed we will be a little closer.” Elect Romney, he argues, and the goal for equal rights will slip farther and farther away.

This is why the 2008 campaign spirit remains very much alive for this year’s LGBT delegates at the DNC. There is only one party, one leader who recognizes their civil rights. The Romney/Ryan “Comeback Team” is not “coming back” for gay people. And until it does, gays in America have only one viable political option: to look up at their fading Obama posters and hope for change.



DNC 2012: The Gay Vote

  1. Emma, I hope you’ll stake out the Clinton hotel and let us know…when Bill Clinton goes to check into his hotel in Charlotte, will Obama be carrying his bags for him?

    As you celebrate the diversity and openness of the DNC, would love to hear how you write this off as NOT being a racist comment.

    • I’m not sure why she’d “write off as NOT being racist” what appears to be a clearly racist statement.
      If you’re suggesting the statement is representative of the Democrats, that would appear to be contradicted by the fact that Obama isn’t carrying his bags, he’s the Democrats’ presidential nominee and elected POTUS.

      • Not representative of the Democrats? Clinton’s the goddamn keynote speaker of the Convention! It doesn’t get much more representative than that. What would people have said if this Bryan Fischer moron referred to above had been made the Republican keynote speaker?

        Also…Clinton was apparently saying this on his wife’s behalf and with her support. How many Democrats are clamouring for Obama to replace Biden as VP with Hilary Clinton. Knowing this is the kind of the stuff the Clintons were saying about Obama…are they freaking nuts to ask him to overlook that?

        • ” …the Clintons were saying…”

          It was fascinating watching you convince yourself over the space of two paragraphs that Hillary made the comment, despite not having a shred of evidence that she had any knowledge of it.

          Like I said, Obama, rather than carrying bags, received the endorsement of Democrats as their POTUS nominee. If his attitude is representative, why isn’t Obama carrying bags?
          Fischer’s attitude, whether he’s a keynote speaker or not, is obviously representative of enough Republicans that a homosexual can’t even be on Romney’s staff.

        • You do know Hillary has been Obama’s Secretary of State for the last 4 years, don’t you? They seem to have patched things over.

    • That would require Emma do some actual reporting. She doesn’t do reporting. She does Republican-bashing and Democrat-cheer-leading. The actual events are irrelevant.

    • Come on. Everyone knows it’s not racist if a Democrat says it. See Byrd, Robert C and Biden, Joseph R. for reference.

    • You know, this Dog Whistle of racism is hilarious. I would not even think that because the black people in my world are senior to me and smart. You are back in the 60s.
      I will have to add this to my list – no Kitchen Cabinet (Churchll’s phrase), no carrying water or carrying bags, etc. There is a looong list.
      This makes people racist.
      Actually, that is not true. I just am never going to see peole by their skin colour or by a history that has gone long ago. When the US has a black president, being of colour is mainstream.

  2. The only thing Romney has going for him is that he’s white.

    In an America that never got over slavery, that may well be enough to do it….it depends on whether they can cope with the 21st century.

  3. Wow, Emma. Was that comment “I Hope not” a death wish on someone? It certainly seemed so. Is this Canadian values in the media today?
    Do you then cry about how violent the right are and ignore the gay Chick Fil A shooter?