Like essentially everyone not named Krauthammer, I loved the First Lady’s speech on the opening night of the Democratic National Convention. I thought that it was warm and personal and effective. It’s probably no great surprise that I liked it, since I generally tend toward liberalism, but since you never know how convention speeches will go (I think we all know what I’m referring to with that, no?), it was a relief and a pleasure that she knocked it so very far out of the park.
However, it wasn’t merely her manner in making a case for her husband’s reelection. It wasn’t her anecdotes about their early married life, or the life they share together in the White House. It wasn’t even the subtle ways she skewered the opposition without feeling the need to do so explicitly. I liked all those things, to be sure. But I am personally grateful for something in particular.
I am grateful for how prominently she spoke in favor of my right to get married.
I know that marriage equality has made it into the Democratic platform (mirabile dictu). I know she wasn’t the first person that evening to mention it. (I think Rahm Emanuel may have [and am I wrong, or was he a surprisingly lackluster speaker?], and I’m pretty sure Deval Patrick did. I loved Julian Castro’s speech, too, but I don’t remember for sure if it made it in there.) As of my writing this, Bill Clinton hasn’t spoken yet, so who knows if he’ll mention it? (Considering that DOMA bears his signature, as far as I’m concerned the best he can shoot for on that score is a mea culpa.) She wasn’t unique in speaking about it.
But something about hearing the First Lady of the United States, in an incredibly important and prominent speech, stick up for my family’s right to the same legal protections and respect as everyone else’s… well, it meant a lot, it turns out. Considering that the other side feels quite comfortable with the notion of mutilating the Constitution to keep people like me second-class, having high-profile advocates is something gay people should be extremely happy about. And perhaps I am sentimental or naive or had simply stayed up far too late to watch the speech, but it sounded like she really meant what she said about people being able to marry whoever they love.
I know that we are a long, long way from nationwide marriage equality. One kick-ass speech is little more than a rhetorical high point in what will no doubt be a hard and dreadfully protracted slog toward that goal. But it shows how far we’ve come in a shockingly short period of time, all things considered. And it gives me a new admiration for the woman I hope is our First Lady for another four years.
[Yes, I know Michelle Obama isn’t actually in that picture. Presumably everyone on earth knows by now it’s the President and their girls watching her speech. But I unashamedly adore that picture, so I thought I’d use it. Sue me.]