Back in 2008 I was so incredibly excited to go to Denver to cover the Democrat convention it was ridiculous. I'd never been to Denver or a national political convention. There was the Hillary vs Obama drama still going strong. And, most of all, I knew I'd get to see our first African-American presidential candidate get the formal nod to represent the Democrat Party.
Now it's 2012 and I'm just not excited at all about this year's convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. In fact, if I wasn't already committed to covering it as part of an LGBT new syndicate (and if Jerame wasn't in charge of National Stonewall Democrats and therefore playing a large role at the convention), I'd probably have skipped it altogether.
Why not? I've got four main reasons...
- First, I'm just not impressed with the location. I was excited to see Denver. I'd always wanted to visit. Hell, I've gone back often! But Charlotte, North Carolina? That doesn't excite me in the least. In fact, I have a negative view of the entire state (minus a few friends, of course!). Why? That leads us to number two.
- North Carolina is not an LGBT-friendly state. They just passed a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage a few months ago. They have no pro-LGBT laws to protect me or my family from harm - and the state government is explicitly homophobic with the full backing of some of the most vociferous religious right nutjobs around. The Party knew that before they picked the location - even that they were about to pass anti-gay legislation. How does that make me feel about how important we are to the Party? Why should I give my hard earned dollars to a state that doesn't want me?
- But we're not the only group unhappy with the location. Labor unions aren't happy either since none of the hotels delegates will be staying in are unionized. In fact, North Carolina has the lowest percentage of unionized workers in the nation - just 3.2% of all workers in the state. If I'm going to spend my money there, I'd like it to support a living wage for the folks working on my behalf. Nope. Not gonna happen.
- And last of all, the Democrats have invited Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, to give the closing prayer. Dolan is one of the most anti-gay religious leaders in the nation. While I thought the outrage over Obama's invitation to Pastor Rick Warren to give the benediction at his inauguration was overblown, this one really pisses me off. Warren isn't known for his extreme anti-gay positions and rhetoric; Dolan is. It's a slap in the face of every LGBT delegate that's attending. How is it supposed to make them feel that the last person to speak at the convention is a man who says our relationships are an "Orwellian social engineering"? Fuck that. The Democrats may need the Catholic vote, but do they need it so badly they're willing to insult LGBT people?
I've heard that many LGBT delegates are planning to walk out in protest when Cardinal Dolan takes the stage. I hope they do. But, when you combine all of the above, I'm still perfectly willing to walk away now.
(Screengrab from Zina Saunders awesome Dolan animation on Mother Jones. Go watch it.)