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DEMOCRATIC NAT'L CONVENTION Day 2: Bill praises, Dems nominate Hillary Clinton
by Chris Johnson, Washington Blade

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PHILADELPHIA—The second night of the Democratic National Convention was a high-point in terms of both speakers and historic nature after delegates made Hillary Clinton the first woman presidential nominee of a major U.S. political party.

Delivering the keynote address was former President Bill Clinton. Essentially auditioning for the role of first gentleman, he recalled meeting Hillary Clinton and the early years of their marriage, followed by her work seeking to improve the United States as a lawyer, first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state.

"When I was president, I worked hard to give you more peace and shared prosperity, to give you an America where nobody is invisible or counted out," Bill Clinton said. "But for this time, Hillary is uniquely qualified to seize the opportunities and reduce the risks we face. And she is still the best darn change-maker I have ever known."

At one point when the teleprompter stopped moving, Bill Clinton ad-libbed, "She's been around a long time, she sure has, and she's sure been worth every single year she's put into making people's lives better."

Enumerating Hillary Clinton's achievements as secretary of state, Bill Clinton recalled the 2011 speech in Geneva in which she pledged to make LGBT human rights part of U.S. foreign policy and declared, "Gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights."

"And as she had been doing since she went to Beijing in 1995 and said women's rights are human rights and human rights are women's rights she worked to empower women and girls around the world and to make the same exact declaration on behalf of the LGBT community in America and around the world," Bill Clinton said.

Joey Wasserman, a New York-based gay-rights advocate who was in attendance at the convention, said the speech Bill Clinton delivered at the convention was "amazing" because it showed the breadth of Hillary Clinton's character.

"It was very unifying," Wasserman said. "It was going to the heart of who Hillary is as a person, as a mother, as a leader—both in foreign affairs and domestic policy."

Among the other convention speakers was former Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean, who warned electing Donald Trump instead of Hillary Clinton would roll back advances in national health care, including the Affordable Care Act.

Lampooning the "Dean Scream" credited with bringing down his 2004 presidential campaign, Dean concluded with a battle cry along the same lines.

"Help make history and volunteer because this race is going to be won on the ground, and it's going to be won in Colorado, and in Iowa, and North Carolina, and Michigan, and Florida, and Pennsylvania, and then we're going to the White House," Dean said.

Debra Messing, star of NBC's Will & Grace, was among the celebrities who appeared on stage to express support for Clinton, promoting the candidate's work in obtaining federal funds to rebuild New York City after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

"Nothing could divide us on that day, and indeed our shared humanity was all that mattered," Messing said. "Christian, Jewish, or Muslim; Black, white, Asian or Latino; gay, bi, trans or straight, we are one people."

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who signed executive orders implementing marriage equality and barring anti-LGBT discrimination among state workers, cited efforts to advance LGBT rights in his state.

"We have fought Republican efforts to discriminate against LGBT Virginians, and we have stood up for a woman's right to choose," McAuliffe said. "And we are overcoming obstacles to deny hundreds of thousands of former felons the right to vote because history tells us that enemies of progress can slow the march toward justice and equality, but they cannot stop it."

Dems anoint Clinton as presidential nominee

On the same day, delegates at the convention anointed Hillary Clinton as the Democratic presidential nominee following a roll-call vote among the delegations from all the states and jurisdictions at the convention.

The roll-call vote was officially the final act as a presidential candidate for Sen. Bernie Sanders ( I-Vt. ), who, when Vermont was called, sought a suspension of the rules to designate Clinton as the Democratic presidential nominee. His words echoed Clinton's in 2008, when, after she lost the primary to President Obama, she called on delegates to vote for him on the floor.

At least four LGBT speakers represented their states during the roll call. Jim Obergefell, the lead plaintiff in the marriage lawsuit that won marriage equality before the U.S. Supreme Court, spoke on behalf of his home state of Ohio.

"I'm proud to be here with my fellow Buckeyes from the great state of Ohio," Obergefell said. "This Ohio boy helped love win last summer, and this Ohio boy and my fellow Ohioans know this: Love trumps hate."

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin ( D-Wis. ), the only out lesbian in Congress, spoke on behalf of Wisconsin when her state came up during the roll call vote.

"Wisconsin is a state where workers still make things from ships, tools and paper, to cheese, brats and beer," Baldwin said. "We are home to the Bucks, the Brewers and America's team, the Green Bay Packers and we are home to future senator Russ Feingold."

Raymond Buckley, chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, and Rick Palacio, chair of the Colorado Democratic Party, are both openly gay and represented their states during the roll-call vote.

The speaker representing the Massachusetts delegation recognized his state, among other things, for being the "first state in the nation to pass equal marriage rights," and the speaker representing North Carolina pledged to "elect Roy Cooper and repeal HB2," the recently enacted anti-trans law signed by Gov. Pat McCrory.

For Democrats Abroad, the speaker delivering the portion of the vote to Sanders was his brother, Larry Sanders, who said he was "immensely proud" to deliver support to the Vermont senator. Video coverage of Bernie Sanders as his brother spoke revealed the candidate was emotional.

But the failure of Sanders to claim the nomination after the roll call vote angered many in the "Bernie or Bust" crowd. Many were seen bolting from the Wells Fargo Center in indignation. Sanders supporters stormed into the media tent near the convention site and held a sit-in protest over the result.

Mia Satya, a delegate pledged to Sanders from San Francisco and one of 28 openly trans delegates at the convention, fumed over Clinton's treatment of the LGBT community immediately after the roll-call vote when asked by the Washington Blade an unrelated question about Donald Trump.

"I think that Hillary Clinton will do a lot to undermine LGBT rights globally by continuing to bomb other countries in which LGBT people live, including our trans sisters, brothers and siblings in countries like Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran," Satya said.

Asked by the Blade whether Trump would be worse for LGBT people than Clinton, Satya replied, "We're in the Democratic National Convention—not the RNC—so I'm talking about the DNC."

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