Melissa Carter: Love (not sex) at the DNC

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel described President Obama as someone who “believes that who you love should not keep you from serving the country you love.”

Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado, who is openly gay, noted that in America “no person is prevented from serving the country they love because of who they love.”

Rep. Gwen Moore of Wisconsin said Obama was focused on protecting all of us, “whether you were born on a reservation or in another country and whether you love a man or a woman.”

All of this acknowledgement and celebration came without a politician mentioning sex or even the word “gay.”

During Obama’s first term, the Democratic Party has done something for us that we could never do for ourselves. Specifically, they learned how to tell our stories to straight people in a way that makes straight people care.

Democratic leaders know that issues of “sexual freedom” and freedom from discrimination based on who you have sex with will never gain widespread support from the straight community.

So instead, Democrats have changed the conversation for us. By presenting gay issues as issues of love rather than sex, they have changed the imagery. By showing our lives as lives with families instead of simply small pockets of  “communities,” they have made us relatable.

Small town America can fairly easily understand and digest the innate human right of two people to love each other. But small town America has never been able to rally behind two people’s innate human right to have sex together.

Do both rights exist? Of course. But only the right to love is marketable to the masses.

Through the years, social conservatives were happy for every gay issue to repeatedly mention sex. By keeping the focus of our relationships on sex, the straight community would never become a sympathetic ear. But now that we are talking about love, that conversation is garnering a different response from the straight community.

Told from the mouths of Democratic politicians, our causes champion the right to hold the hand of a dying partner in a hospital or the right to outwardly embrace your partner when you return from deployment without fear. So, these days, the imagery has started changing and when the imagery changes, the opinions change.

The highlight of the Democratic Convention for many was Zach Wahls, who told the world he was a sixth generation Iowan, an Eagle Scout and the proud son of two moms.

He reminded the audience of all the ways his family was just like everyone else. But more than what he said, Zach showed the world a different image of our challenges and struggles. He showed the world an image of a loving son who is proud of his family but has to fight the ignorance and prejudices of those who would diminish his family’s relationship.

Standing at the podium, Zach was the embodiment of the kind of son that only love can make. And how can anyone not love that?


Melissa Carter is also a writer for Huffington Post. She broke ground as the first out lesbian radio personality on a major station in Atlanta and was one of the few out morning show personalities in the country. Follow her on Twitter @MelissaCarter