Rep. Tammy Baldwin addresses the LGBT Caucus at the Democratic National Convention.
Charlotte, NC — Today, the unprecedented number of LGBT participants at the Democratic National Convention — more than 500 delegates and alternates — got a taste of their growing role as an important voting, volunteer and donor constituency in the Democratic Party.
The LGBT Caucus met today at noon, and they were greeted by two of President Obama’s key staff, senior advisor Valerie Jarrett and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
According to National Stonewall Democrats, in addition to the large overall number, this is the first time that every state is sending at least one LGBT delegate to the convention.
The HHS secretary didn’t shy away from addressing one of the Romney/Ryan tickets key talking points in recent days. Saying that the LGBT equality advancements boasted about by Obama backers “will be gone in 30 days … [and] perhaps for a generation” if Mitt Romney is elected, Sebelius asked the LGBT Caucus, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” The answer, the crowd shouted, was yes — to which Sebelius replied, “You bet.
The most aggressive speech, though, came American Foundation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten, who gave a fiery address, acknowledging that the Democratic Party in the past had told LGBT people, “not yet” on LGBT equality measures.
“Well,” Weingarten said, “‘yet’ has come.”
The party platform adopted today includes explicit support for marriage equality and for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would outlaw sexual orientation and gender identity workplace discrimination for most employers.
The loudest applause went to Rep. Tammy Baldwin, the Wisconsin Democrat who is running against former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Sen. Herb Kohl. Baldwin was introduced by Mark Pocan, an out gay man who recently won his Democratic primary to run for her seat.