What to watch for Wednesday at the Democratic National Convention? Click here to read more.
Bill Clinton is writing his own speech
The former president is still a Big Enchilada in the Democratic Party. He's always capable of making news. People are speculating that Clinton will defend Obama against GOP charges the president is trying to undo some of Clinton's welfare reforms.
Elizabeth Warren knows red meat
Warren is a hard-edged Democrat from Massachusetts who is the party's best hope for unseating Republican Sen. Scott Brown. Polls currently show Brown with an edge, so this is a big night for Warren, both nationally and back home.
She's no fluke
Sandra Fluke, the woman Rush Limbaugh accused of being something we can't print in a family newspaper or website, will be on hand. If you remember, Limbaugh took aim at Fluke after she tried to testify before Congress in a dispute over contraceptives.
– Robynn Tysver
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — If you doubt Iowa delegate Dean Genth's commitment to re-elect President Barack Obama, just read the button on his chest.
It says, “Romney would destroy my marriage.”
The Democrats on Tuesday became the nation's first major political party to adopt a platform at their convention that fully supports same-sex marriage.
The platform supports the movement toward equal treatment under the law for same-sex couples. It opposes “federal and state constitutional amendments and other attempts to deny equal protection” to same-sex couples. Nebraskans passed such an amendment in 2000.
“We also support the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference,” the platform says.
The Republican Party platform backs the rights of individual states and the federal government to not recognize same-sex marriages. The GOP also backs a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
“The reason it's so gut-wrenchingly important for me is because the whole fabric of my life is at stake with this election,” said Genth, a 62-year-old retired CEO from Mason City, Iowa.
Gay rights supporters call the Democratic platform achievement historic. They say the change will drive them to work harder for Obama.
Opponents say Democrats went too far too fast, a mistake that could siphon votes in key states from the president and others on the ticket.
Even same-sex marriage supporters in the Nebraska and Iowa Democratic delegations doubt that the president will put the issue near the forefront of his campaign. Republicans are more likely to use the issue against Obama, said Kieran McCarney, a 28-year-old from Omaha.
“I think that's one of those wedge issues that Mitt Romney and the Republican Party are trying to make a wedge issue,” McCarney said. “This is an election about jobs and the economy.”
Still, the passion that gay rights issues inspire was evident Tuesday at the meeting of the convention's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered Caucus. Hundreds of jubilant delegates packed a convention center meeting room to celebrate the new platform. Organizers noted that their group's presence at the convention was once so small they could have met in a phone booth; that they had been told time and again “not yet.”
Now, they say, is their time.
High-profile administration figures stopped by, including senior Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. The group also heard from Wisconsin's Tammy Baldwin, running to be the first openly gay member of the U.S. Senate.
Same-sex marriage particularly resonated with delegates from Iowa, where such unions have been legal since an April 2009 State Supreme Court decision.
The decision produced a swift political backlash that resulted in three justices being voted out. Republicans and outside groups spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on advertising. Iowa opponents of same-sex marriage are gearing up to oust Justice David Wiggins.
Genth's husband, Gary Swenson, 50, accompanied him to this week's convention. The couple held a religious wedding ceremony in 2004, thinking that was the best they could hope for.
They got legally married after the Iowa court decision, which they said provided them a level of acceptance they didn't know they were missing.
For example, Swenson's mother began referring to Genth as her son-in-law.
Swenson said he fears that Romney would push for a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage, essentially forcing him into a divorce.
“That would be a remarkably dehumanizing experience,” Swenson said.
While the platform language fires up the Democratic troops, opponents say it could hurt Obama in key areas.
Iowa's Bob Vander Plaats, president and CEO of the Family Leader, criticized Democrats for adopting the platform, saying it was evidence that the party's left wing was in charge.
He noted that voters in North Carolina, the swing state in which Democrats are gathering, solidly rejected same-sex marriage this year.
Given various religions' prohibitions of homosexual relationships, he said, Americans are more likely to side with Christian evangelist Billy Graham, a North Carolinian.
“They're going to cling to what Billy Graham would say is true and good versus what the far left of the Democrat Party would say is good for the country,” he said. “I believe it's going to cost Obama at the ballot box.”
The decision could affect down-ballot races as well. Vander Plaats and others have targeted Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, in part because he has supported efforts to keep same-sex marriage legal in the state.
Gronstal, a delegate to this week's convention, is quick to point out that voters rarely bring up same-sex marriage, that Iowans worry more about jobs.
“People have realized that it's the neighbors down the street that got married that they always knew were gay, so for most Iowans there's a growing level of acceptance on this,” he said.
He said Vander Platts and others want to demonize people and cited the Pledge of Allegiance phrasing “One nation under God, with liberty and justice for all.”
“My question for Bob Vander Platts is — do you believe it when you say that? In his case, apparently not,” Gronstal said.
Several Nebraska and Iowa delegates said that — in the long run — same-sex marriage is likely to fade as an issue. They noted that polls show wide majorities of young people support the idea of marriage equality.
“It's an issue a lot of young Americans feel passionate about. To be anti-gay rights, anti-gay marriage is an old-fashioned approach,” said Marguerite Wedeman, an 18-year-old Nebraska delegate from Lincoln.
She said she understood why Obama might not touch on the subject this week. But she and others who support gay rights hope he will make them a bigger part of his second term.
“What I'm hoping is when President Obama gets re-elected, he will stand up more for these social issues,” Wedeman said.
This report contains material from World-Herald press services.
Contact the writer: 202-630-4823, email@example.com
Tweets from the Democratic National Convention