Democrats are having a big, gay convention. Their full-throated embrace of equal rights for gay Americans, particularly same-sex marriage rights, has taken center stage in Charlotte.
Throughout the first two days of the Democratic National Convention, references to marriage equality received big cheers from the crowd. But on day three, gay rights stole the spotlight more than ever, as marriage equality was recognized by the convention chairman, and a parade of speakers highlighted President Obama’s commitment to equality.
“For the first time, a major party platform recognizes marriage equality as a basic human right!” Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the convention’s chairman, said to applause early in the night.
Zach Wahls, who was raised by two mothers, said that when President Obama, who announced his support of same-sex marriage in May, put his “political future on the line to do what was right.”
Wahls became a symbol of the gay rights movement after he made an impassioned plea for marriage equality before the Iowa legislature last year and the video went viral online.
“People want to know what it’s like having lesbian parents. I’ll let you in on a secret: I’m awesome at putting the seat down. Otherwise, we’re like any other family,” Wahls said Thursday. “Mr. Romney, my family is just as real as yours.”
Tammy Baldwin, the Democratic Senate nominee in Wisconsin who, if elected, would be the first openly gay member of the Senate, also noted Obama’s work for the LGBT community. “He repealed ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ so that no American ever again has to lie about who they are in order to serve the country we love,” Baldwin said. “Republicans want to write discrimination into our Constitution.”
The night’s lineup also included Alejandra Salinas, who served as the first Latina president of the College Democrats and identifies as LGBT. “This president, on so many issues — immigration, LGBT rights, women’s health —has proven that he cares about all of us,” Salinas said. “As a young, LGBT Latina, it seems to me that Mitt Romney only cares about an elite few.”
And there were straight allies too. “President Obama did the right thing by ending “don’t ask, don’t tell,” said veteran Jason Crow. “The choice is clear.”
And Barney Frank couldn’t resist going off-script to mock Romney’s position on gay rights. “There is the Gov. Romney that was going to be better [than Kennedy] on gay-rights,” Frank said. “Another is the candidate that checks with Rick Santorum.”
Pema Levy is a News Writer at TPM covering the 2012 election. Before coming to TPM, Pema was an assistant editor at The American Prospect where she wrote about politics and the economy.