Last week a couple of GLAAD staffers headed down to Denver, Colorado to attend the Democratic National Convention (click here to view pictures). With such a large number of community partners and allies attending the convention, and with the multitude of events geared towards LGBT attendees, it was a great opportunity to connect with advocates, bloggers, media figures and those who work in and around the LGBT political community.
As many bloggers and the LGBT press outlets have already noted, there were a large number of LGBT delegates at this year's convention. In fact, there was a 20% increase from the last one. The increased presence of LGBT delegates may have helped pave the way for many prominent speakers, from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama and Bill Clinton to Ted Kennedy to decide to include references to the LGBT community in their speeches.
Michelle Obama, while not directly mentioning the LGBT community in her prime-time speech, made her way to a luncheon for LGBT delegates the day after to speak directly to the predominantly LGBT crowd. Towleroad has pictures and video of her surprise appearance. At that same event, a long list of speakers, including Representatives Barney Frank and Tammy Baldwin, discussed many issues of importance to the community.
Here is part of Sen. Clinton's speech in which she mentions her campaign's fight for equality, including for gay rights:
Many LGBT and allied entertainers could also be seen throughout the convention. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) held a "Rock to Win" concert which included Margaret Cho, Rufus Wainwright, Thelma Houston, Cyndi Lauper and Melissa Etheridge. Here is a clip of Cho and Lauper at the HRC event:
Etheridge even got the opportunity to perform before the entire convention on the night of President Bill Clinton's speech and Sen. Joe Biden's nomination. You can watch the performance below:
Reviewing the press coverage of the convention, you'll find relatively few mentions of speeches made by Reps. Barney Frank (Boston Herald) or Tammy Baldwin (AP) or LGBT advocates like Tom Charlton (Denver Post). Even with the large number of LGBT delegates at this convention, it's hard to find mentions outside the blogosphere of other high profile members of the community that were present in Denver.
And while you'll find multiple mentions of both Senator Obama's (AP, Salt Lake Tribune, Newsday, etc) and Senator Clinton's (Chicago Tribune, Seattle Post Intelligencer, etc) inclusion of LGBT people in their prime-time speeches, we haven't seen a broader discussion in the mainstream media about the significance of that inclusion.
This DNC had the largest LGBT caucus to date, and over the course of the convention, several of the key speakers, including presidential hopeful Barack Obama, included statements about the gay and lesbian community in their high-profile speeches.
Also, for the first time in the party's history, this year's platform ( a new one is adopted every four years ) explicitly opposes discrimination based on gender identity, as well as sexual orientation. The platform also calls for the repeal of the military's “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy.
Hopefully we'll start to see this type of coverage in mainstream media outlets in the months leading up to the election.