Oops. While celebrating in Thursday's New York Times the spotlight shown on gay issues during this week's Democratic National Convention, reporter Adam Nagourney (who is openly gay) wrote that gay Rep. Barney Frank spoke to the convention on Wednesday night. Nope: Frank was actually bumped when the program ran long and will deliver his speech tonight instead.
After years of struggling for attention and recognition from the nation’s political parties, gays and lesbians have catapulted to the forefront of the Democratic convention here, prominent on the stage, in speeches, in the platform and at parties that go on after the proceedings have finished.
The turnaround has surprised even gay leaders, who just four years ago were frustrated in their attempt to get same-sex marriage mentioned in prime time. Many spent the first two years of the Obama presidency criticizing President Obama for failing to move to fulfill a campaign promise to eliminate the ban on gays serving openly in the military.
One of the Democrats’ first acts was adopting a party platform that for the first time endorsed same-sex marriage. Gay rights -- whether they be same-sex marriage, the lifting of the ban on gays in the military, or anti-discrimination measures -- have been mentioned in nearly every speech, including one by Michelle Obama.
The subject was raised sometimes pointedly, as when Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago mayor and Mr. Obama’s first chief of staff, talked about Mr. Obama’s success at lifting the ban on gays in the military. But it was also raised matter-of-factly, as when a Democratic congressman from Colorado took the stage:
At a street festival here this week, the lines to buy T-shirts from the Human Rights Campaign tent was so long that staff members set up a party game (a Wheel of Fortune-style giveaway) to entertain waiting customers. (The stray protesters outside the convention hall on Wednesday focused mostly on condemning the platform elements related to abortion, not gay rights.)
The contrast with the Republican convention last week in Florida was striking. In Tampa, there were no openly gay people speaking from the stage, and minimal discussion of gay issues, though there were small contingents of gay delegates and celebrations in more obscure venues. That said, gay delegates there noted that unlike past conventions, there was no chorus of attacks on gay rights from the stage.
Then Nagourney, who is reporting on-site from Charlotte, made his scheduling gaffe:
And on Wednesday evening, Representative Barney Frank, a Democrat from Massachusetts who married his male partner over the summer, was one of the prime-time speakers.
“It’s gotten better and better on a continuous basis,” Mr. Frank said in an interview before his speech. “We are close to winning this fight.”
Mr. Frank, who first spoke at the 1992 convention, suggested it was a mark of changing times that in his speech on Wednesday, the topic was not gay rights, but rather a discussion of Mitt Romney’s record as Massachusetts governor.
But Frank did not make a speech on Wednesday night. A Washington Post blog reported the change at 9:08 Wednesday night: "Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) was scheduled to speak Wednesday night, but he was quietly cut from the schedule at the last minute. He is now slated to speak tomorrow, according to a Democratic official, because applause has made the program run a little long."