Editor's Note: Justin Flippen, a life-long Floridian, is President of the Dolphin Democrats, Florida's oldest and largest LGBT political organization. He is also a candidate for Wilton Manors City Commission, on the ballot November 4th.
"Yes We Can!" "Yes We Can!"
Those were the words that echoed from Invesco Field in Denver the night I stood with my fellow delegates at the Democratic National Convention along with 70,000 other Americans from all walks of life committed to Barack Obama and his message of change.
Obama's rise to the forefront of American politics and the Democratic Party has been underscored by his message of inclusiveness and how in our nation there is no red America and no blue America. Rather there is just the United States of America. A nation united is what so many of us long to see this election cycle. We as members of the GLBT community are particularly sensitive - whether through motives attributed to ignorance or prejudice - of being marginalized, ostracized, and oftentimes demonized often by folks across the aisle. Only in one party can we breathe a sigh of relief when we hear Obama and our fellow Democrats proclaim, "Yes we can!"
The 'we' of the Democratic Party doesn't mean some or most of us - it means ALL of us. Democrats understand that we have our differences but that none of us, because of those differences, should be denied our God-given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Democrats recognize America has not always developed the best possible policies in the past and this is why "we support the repeal of 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' and the implementation of policies to allow qualified men and women to serve openly regardless of sexual orientation"1.
Democrats believe in making our nation a more perfect union. "Democrats will fight to end discrimination based on race, sex, ethnicity, national origin, language, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, and disability in every corner of our country, because that's the America we believe in"2.
Democrats "support the full inclusion of all families, including same-sex couples, in the life of our nation, and support equal responsibility, benefits, and protections. We will enact a comprehensive bipartisan employment non-discrimination act. We oppose the Defense of Marriage Act and all attempts to use this issue to divide us"3 .
We have drawn a line in the sand and refuse to feed elements of our national polity hell-bent on division rather than the change and unity America needs and deserves.
I have respect for all Americans, including our Republican brothers and sisters. I however cannot sit idly by when a major political party in our nation actively seeks to align itself with agents who aim to deny, strip, or degrade our rightful status as equals in our society. This is wrong, and whether it is Democrats from without or Republicans from within, it must be confronted and stopped. And while I am most proud of the Democratic Party for its record on the issue, I applaud any American who stands for equality.
Congressman Barney Frank told us in Denver that we should concede the fact that our community does have an agenda. But our agenda is no different than any other American's. We want to be able, if we so choose, to serve our country, get a job, get married, and have children. An equal seat at the table is what we want; because in truth, anything less would be un-American and antithetical to the American spirit.
"We have a choice to make. We can choose to stay the current failed course. Or we can choose a path that builds upon the best of who and what we are, that reflects our highest values.
We can have more of the last eight years, or we can rise together and create a new kind of government. The time for change has come, and America must seize it"4.
I must impress upon each and every one of you, this November chose the candidate, the party, the platform, that when it is said, "Yes we can," that 'we' is a 'we' that includes you and me.
Onward to victory!
1 from page 36 of the 2008 Democratic National Platform.
2 from page 51 of the 2008 Democratic National Platform.
3 from page 52 of the 2008 Democratic National Platform.
4 from page 7 of the 2008 Democratic National Platform.