CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Democrats from Illinois held a delegation breakfast Wednesday morning, the second day of the Democratic National Convention that will run through Thursday evening. The event took place at the Omni Hotel where many of Illinois’ delegates are staying this, including the ten LGBT representatives from the state.
Thousands, including the Illinois delegates, packed into Time Warner Cable Arena in downtown Charlotte for Tuesday’s opening remarks. Among the speakers were First Lady Michelle Obama and openly gay Colorado Representative Jared Polis.
Delegate Modesto Tico Valle is executive director of Chicago’s Center on Halsted and an Illinois LGBT delegate. He reflected on the experience the morning after Obama’s rousing speech.
“I sat there and I saw a rainbow of people throughout the stadium,” Valle said. “But most importantly, in all the remarks that were made there was no one that was left behind. And that was pretty powerful – that the LGBT community was brought along.”
Debra Shore, the openly LGBT commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, echoed Valle’s sentiments about the visual impact of human diversity in the arena.
“I think when we see the picture – the delegates from all over our country in the convention hall and arena…you’ll see a picture of America,” said Shore. “I’m proud. I’m happy. Included in that picture will be many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people who, by appearance, may not show our diversity, and yet we’re there too. We’re part of the fabric of the country.”
For Chicago delegate Gail Morse, attending the convention with her partner, Tuesday’s convention proceedings were especially important. Delegates approved the party’s platform, complete with a plank supporting marriage equality.
The party’s careful and deliberate inclusion touched Morse.
“Last night, the first night of the convention, the first of three nights, it was almost every speaker who affirmed LGBT rights and for me that was huge and important,” she said.
Morse also highlighted the stark contrast in rhetoric surrounding LGBT issues between the 2008 and current conventions. Her passion for marriage equality largely motivated her desire to become a delegate.
The marriage plank and LGBT inclusion in the Democratic Party platform proved to be a unifying issue among delegates, not merely LGBT-specific individuals. Illinois Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky fully attributed the success of the marriage plank to years of work by LGBT activists.
“I think that the community can take full credit for that,” she said. “The community has really pressed forward, challenging the status quo, demanding the kinds of changes. I mean, if you really think about progress on the human rights front, there’s nothing to compare to what has happened in the queer community. Nothing.”
Several delegates expressed a belief that the intentional inclusion, both in the party platform and the Convention itself, will be important in helping mobilize LGBT voters in November.