CHARLOTTE, N.C. – As Democrats rally in Charlotte this week, LGBT attendees of this week's Democratic National Convention are among the most enthusiastic supporters in town. Bolstered by the Democrats' 2012 party platform that specifically endorses marriage equality, many supporters feel fully included for the first time in political history.
The formal document lays out the philosophy behind where the party wants to take the nation and, for the first time, includes language in favor of same-sex marriage. ''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,'' the platform reads.
Matt Comer, editor of the local LGBT newspaper QNotes, has been one of most excited locals to welcome queer delegates and staffers to his home city.
''The DNC's presence in Charlotte will give this conservative bank-town a run for its progressive money. It will open eyes at the possibilities,'' Comer said. ''And, if played right, it will serve as a moment to leave a lasting progressive legacy in the city. It is a proud moment for my adopted hometown and my native Tar Heel State.''
While many LGBT people have been upset at President Obama during his first term in office and complain that he hasn't accomplished enough for the community, you'd be hard pressed to find any naysayers in Charlotte. Supporters point to accomplishments the president has already racked up and insist that a second term would bring many more.
Under Obama's leadership, Congress has passed landmark legislation like the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act and the repeal of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell law that kept out gay and lesbian servicemembers from serving in the armed forces. DADT was signed into law under Democratic President Bill Clinton.
''I'm thrilled beyond words to be at my first convention, but what makes it really sweet is that I can help re-elect a president who signed the bill ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell – relieving a burden from our servicemembers and making our military stronger,'' said West Point graduate and New Jersey delegate Sue Fulton, a lesbian. ''This president has done more to help our veterans – education, health care – than Bush did in eight years. I am proud to be able to say: Support our troops – re-elect Barack Obama!''