by Rex Wockner 365Gay.com Editor-At-Large At The Democratic Convention
Posted: July 27, 2004 12:01 am ET - link- www.365gay.com/newscon04/07/072704demsConv.htm
(Boston, Massachusetts) Despite a protest Monday night gay delegates to the Democratic National Convention appear more united than in the past. The convention kicked off here with at least 255 GLBT delegates from 48 U.S. states and territories.
At their first meeting, the GLBT caucus was addressed by U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and '70s pop singer Carole King.
"What I'm hearing [from people] is, 'This is the most important election of my lifetime,'" Boxer said. "Over the next couple of years, we may have as many as four Supreme Court justices appointed, and you and I know that [under George W. Bush] that could change America in a way that we would not recognize."
Boxer said Bush has taken direct aim at the GLBT community.
"George Bush has decided that this year, you are the scapegoats," she said, referring to the president's outspoken support for amending the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage.
"This hurtful politics is not going away," she said. "They've just begun. Now they're going to tell the courts that the courts have no right to have an opinion on whether gays and lesbians should have equality. What country are we turning into? ... This is a frightening time."
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill July 22 that strips federal courts of jurisdiction over challenges to a section of the Defense of Marriage Act that allows states to reject same-sex marriages performed in other states.
King addressed one of the sore spots between the Kerry campaign and some gay delegates.
"I know John Kerry and I agree with a lot of things that he believes," she said. "I do not agree with his stance on gay marriage [but] I think that with our work and our love and our openness and encouragement, I think he will eventually come to where we are on this. ... This is a good man who has been your advocate for many, many years."
There were two other areas of conflict. While the Democratic Party platform positions on most gay issues, excepting same-sex marriage, met with praise from delegates, transgender delegates criticized the document for failing to support transgender equality.
Gay delegates also complained about the ban on bringing signs into the Fleet Center, the convention site, allegedly for "security" reasons. This prevented gay delegates from brandishing placards supporting same-sex marriage, since none of the signs provided inside the convention by the Kerry campaign took that position.
Kerry favors civil unions not same-sex marriage, and has gone so far as to support amending Massachusetts' constitution to ban same-sex marriage if civil unions are available. Massachusetts is the only state where gay couples can get married. Kerry does not, however, support a federal ban on same-sex marriage.
In general, though, conflict among GLBT caucus members seemed more muted than at past conventions. As openly gay Chicago Alderman Tom Tunney put it: "It's a unified message to replace President Bush. ... The worst result is another four years of Bush."
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) Executive Director Matt Foreman agreed.
"I think every LBGT person in America has to understand that George Bush's re-election would be a catastrophe for our community," he said. "It would set us back for generations to come, and not just around freedom to marry, but HIV prevention, school-safety issues and basic non-discrimination protection.
"No candidate is perfect," Foreman said. "John Kerry is really good on 11 out of 12 [GLBT] issues. The fact that he supports the state antimarriage amendment in Massachusetts is disappointing. No politician is perfect. This one is pretty damned close to it."