This week, the Democratic Party is gathering in Charlotte, North Carolina, the city where I moved for my first year of college eight years ago. I’m pretty proud that they chose the Queen City, even if it is a right-to-work state that typically votes Republican. It’s a bold move for a party with increasingly broad horizons. While broad, however, the Convention’s location isn’t the biggest eyebrow-raiser this year.
By far the biggest shift in policy by the Democratic Party is its support of gay marriage in the United States. Just four years ago, Barack Obama’s position was that marriage was “sacred” and “between a man and a woman.” Earlier this year, Joe Biden gaffed Obama into early support of same-sex marriage, and the Democratic Party followed suit by declaring the following in its official party platform:
We support marriage equality and support the movement to secure equal treatment under law for same-sex couples. We also support the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference.
We oppose discriminatory federal and state constitutional amendments and other attempts to deny equal protection of the laws to committed same-sex couples who seek the same respect and responsibilities as other married couples. We support the full repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act.
— 2012 Democratic Party Platform
Since the convention began last night, virtually every speaker has talked about how important it is for LGBT Americans to enjoy equal rights, whether that means marriage or non-discrimination in the workplace. They’ve excoriated states for passing anti-equality amendments to their state constitutions, and they’ve made it clear that LGBT Americans are a minority group deserving of protection and equality in every other area. That’s a refreshing change of pace that makes me feel really good. Since I reached voting age in 2004, voting for Democratic candidates has always felt like a compromise. It has felt like the lesser of two evils: More progressive than Republican candidates, but not well-aligned with my own ultra-progressive viewpoints.
The Democratic Party is not perfect. It is not nearly progressive enough. The same could be said of Barack Obama. But the party is moving in the right direction with support of LGBT equality and marriage rights nationwide. It’s moving in the right direction as its leading officials and public figures tell the story about how important equality is to people like myself, my significant other, and my friends. They’re getting there. They get it. And they’ve got our collective back.
That’s worth noting. And it feels really, really good. Obama-Biden 2012 (right?)!