And over this past weekend, the Democratic party took the first steps to becoming the first major party in American politics to fully endorse marriage equality in its platform.
The Democratic Party platform drafting committee approved on Sunday language endorsing same-sex marriage in addition to other pro-LGBT positions as part of the Democratic Party platform, according to two sources familiar with the drafting process.This is a truly historic moment for me. Not just as a gay American, but as someone who became involved in the Democratic process for the first time during the 2004 presidential campaign. That was a very different election for me. In the primaries, I supported a candidate (Howard Dean) who was the first governor in the country to sign civil union legislation. If you told me then that in less than a decade, we would be looking at a president supportive of marriage equality and a Democratic party full-on embracing it without fearing a red state backlash, I would have said you're crazy.
Retiring gay Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who sits on the committee, told the Washington Blade on Monday that the 15-member panel unanimously backed the inclusion of a marriage equality plank after a national hearing over the weekend in Minneapolis, in which several witnesses testified in favor of such language.
2004 was also the year when Republicans put on anti-gay ballot measures in state after state in an attempt to bring out the bigot vote (yeah, well, I'm done with euphemisms on this one). It worked, too. Not only did George W. Bush win a second term, 20-some odd states wrote into their state Constitutions provisions to discriminate.
Four years went by, and in 2008, just as America was in the middle of an election season to shatter one glass ceiling and elect the first African American president, gay people had their heads bashed against another glass ceiling. Bigoted forces in California, backed up by the Mormon Church, pushed for a state Constitutional Amendment to rescind equal marriage rights Californians already enjoyed (thanks to a CA Supreme Court ruling in May of 2008). Despite spending treasure, sweat and tears, we watched Californians enshrine discrimination in our Constitution on the same night that Barack Obama was elected president. I remember that night like it was last night. I cried. I cried in an immense pride in my country and the great promise of Barack Obama, and I also cried from a deep pain from watching my fellow Californians vote to end my equality before the law.
And now. Now it's 2012. We have had a president for almost 4 years who has tirelessly championed equality, who's given voice to our cause and aid to our actions. A president who ended Don't Ask, Don't Tell, so our heroes are never again silenced because of who they love. A president who refuses to defend an unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act. A president who ordered all hospitals to honor the relationships of same sex couples in medical decision making. And his leadership has now lead his party - my party - to begin a process to declare at the national level that separate and unequal is no longer an option. That we deserve the same respect, responsibilities and treatment under the law as any other human being. That marriage equality is a civil right.
When Barack Obama was elected overwhelmingly in 2008, I heard from a lot of people who came back from swing states like Nevada and started regretting going there instead of staying in California to fight Proposition 8. I always told them that they had nothing to be sorry about. As hard as losing was on Proposition 8, electing Barack Obama was an equally groundbreaking (if not more groundbreaking) event on the other side of the gay rights movement. It's good to see that being borne out today.