Ann Romney’s blanket of love, her speech at last week’s Republican National Convention, was an appeal to women voters that warmed hearts with her talk of a deep love for her husband, their very real marriage, and Americans’ shared love of country.
But on Day One of their convention in Charlotte, N.C., the Democrats took that language of love and used it to support gay rights and the freedom to love whomever you please.
Love wasn’t mentioned in the keynote or by speakers whose job it was to focus on single issues such as healthcare or the economy. But according to the Democratic National Convention, in President Barack Obama’s America, being gay is OK – and same-sex marriage should be, too.
As on-again, off-again White House staffer and actor Kal Penn said, “I've worked on a lot of fun movies, but my favorite job was having a boss who gave the order to take out bin Laden – and who's cool with all of us getting gay-married.”
In 2010, the Senate “repealed ‘don't ask, don’t tell,’ so anyone can serve the country they love, regardless of whom they love,” said Mr. Penn.
First lady Michelle Obama, while also speaking about her love for her husband, and the unconditional love of her own and Barack’s parents, also referred to the “proud Americans [who] can be who they are and boldly stand at the altar with who they love..."
The operative phrase “who you love” was also used by Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker, and the famously foul-mouthed Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Gov. Deval Patrick, along with Kal Penn, gets extra credit for the proper grammar use of “whom” instead of “who.”
Other speakers, including Obama’s sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, and Rep. Jared Polis (D) of Colo., who is gay and the parent of a young son with his partner, included the theme in their speeches. Senate hopeful Tim Kaine of Va. cited “fair treatment of LGBT Americans” as part of Obama’s fight.
The Democratic national platform says in part:
“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.”
When President Obama said in May that his views on same-sex marriage had changed, he was circling back to opinions he had expressed while running for state senate in 1996. During his campaign for U.S. Senate in 2004, he backed off that more liberal stance while continuing to support civil unions.
This year, some officials in his own administration, including Vice President Joe Biden, effectively pressed the issue with their public support of same-sex unions. And in a televised ABC News interview on May 9, Obama talked about how his personal feelings have affected his public opinion.
Having friends, neighbors, and co-workers in committed same-sex relationships; some of whom have children, convinced him to change. It’s a topic that has “generational” differences too, Obama said, since even young Republicans he has met are more accepting of same-sex equality than their older political counterparts.
Much of Mrs. Obama’s speech was devoted to the values she says she and the president are trying to pass along to their children, values she says haven’t changed while her husband has been commander in chief. And in the May interview, Mr. Obama invoked the Golden Rule when explaining his support for same-sex marriage.
“There have been times where Michelle and I have been sitting around the dinner table,” Obama said in the interview, “and we're talking about their friends and their parents and Malia and Sasha – it wouldn't dawn on them that somehow their friends' parents would be treated differently.”
The man has children to answer to. Often it’s the people we brought into this world, and are responsible for, who keep us honest with ourselves.