Guest Blogger

An Extra-ordinary Night

Filed By Guest Blogger | August 30, 2008 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Barack Obama, Del Martin, Democratic National Convention, Denver convention, DNCC, NGLTF

Editors' Note: Guest blogger Rea Carey is the Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

rea_carey_08_187x210.jpgThursday night was extra-ordinary (I include the hyphen to emphasize what has been lost in the overuse of the word). I've been in my hometown of Denver all week attending the Democratic National Convention listening to speeches, talking with people from all over the country, and meeting with the lesbian, gay bisexual and historic number of transgender delegates and leaders who were here. I've experienced many political moments and Thursday night at the stadium puts all the rest to shame.

I say this, not because it was a Democratic convention (and I would hope in a different political era I could say the same about the Republican convention). Rather, Thursday night was one of those nights when I found myself simply feeling incredibly fortunate to be alive at this moment in history. This past week has been filled with history and as a student of history myself, leading this country's oldest national LGBT organization, I know that moments like these come along infrequently

Certainly, Obama's speech was powerful and touched on many of the issues I hoped it would. I was pleased that he included same-sex marriage in his remarks - historic in itself (your turn McCain!). Throughout the afternoon and night, speech after speech moved me in ways I was not expecting. But for me, the following constellation of events made this week unforgettable for me.

At Mile High Stadium Thursday night (now called Invesco) I sat down next to people I'd never met before and found that the straight couple right next to me are having a party next month bringing their friends together to raise money to fight the anti-marriage Proposition 8 in California; a mother I know made sure that her bi-racial daughter got into the stadium so that she could see herself reflected in Senator Obama's presence; the LGBT delegation was the third largest group of delegates at the convention (only following California and New York); and, with the passing of Del Martin, we were all called upon to carry on her work and activism.

This week has given me hope - in fact, the knowledge -- that our work at the Task Force is carried out in a larger context of more people than I think we sometimes know, who care about equality, who care about justice. Following the last 8 years of inspirational impotence on the national level I, as one lesbian doing her work to make the world more just, felt called to be a better leader myself, a better community member, a better mom, and to work from my highest self to make sure that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have the opportunity to share our talents, skills and strengths with the larger society.

This is not about being a Democrat or a Republican or an Independent. It is about being human.

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An absolutely beautiful account of that day. As one of the supposed "leaders" of the transgender community, I feel honored that you were there, representing all of us. Thank you for all that you and the Task Force does for us.

Monica Helms
President, Transgender American Veterans Association

Can we clarify the way in which Senator Obama included same-sex marriage in his remarks?

He said: "I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination."

Yes, I suppose that counts as a reference to same-sex marriage, but it's more like rubber necking than actually stopping at the scene.

The focus of his statement seems to be centered more around the supposed justice of being allowed to visit your ailing partner in the hospital without restriction - which is only a problem because some states and the federal government refuse to recognize our relationships.

Haven't we progressed further than this in the past 10 years? Are we still fighting for the right to sit in a hospital room? Is this the best Obama can offer us as compensation for the marginalization we have experienced in the last 8 years (while his party looked the other way) - let alone the actions of the previous Democratic administration?

If Obama really wants a complement for making a courageous statement about equality, he's going to have to try much harder than this.

We have earned it.

Rea, thank you for letting us know about your experience of the convention. I have wanted to believe that the Democrats are doing more than is mentioned by the Obama campaign. You have given my hopes some substance.

I used to think party conventions were a waste, but I am beginning to think the networking there is very helpful.

"This is not about being a Democrat or a Republican or an Independent. It is about being human."

I get the Kumbaya quality of your statement, Rea. But, yeah, it really *is* about being a Democrat. Democrats believe what we believe, and the Republicans would *never* nominate someone like Obama. So we really need to dial back the post partisan feelgood stuff. It's not the world in which we live.