CHARLOTTE, North Carolina - For gay rights advocates, the first night of the Democratic National Convention could prove to be the biggest night. Some will tell you it is certainly the most historic.
"We are just so thrilled to be here," Minnesota Delegate Phil Reitan of Eden Prairie beamed. "We are just so full of emotions this evening as my party votes on this platform," his wife Randi, also a delegate, said.
The Reitans have a gay son and they are most interested in two paragraphs in the party's official platform that will be adopted on night one. Under the heading Freedom to Marry, the platform, in part, reads: "We support marriage equality and support the movement to secure equal treatment under law for same-sex couples."
"I know there will be tears coming down my face. This is a very emotional time. People have waited a long time for this," Randi remarked.
"It shows us how far we've moved from 2004," Hamline University Political Science Professor David Schultz said. Schultz says those two paragraphs will be big for Democratic momentum. "It'll help motivate many of their key constituencies including liberals and, more importantly, young people who are critical to Obama's base."
But the platform paragraphs could be used by Republicans too. "I think the area where it potentially hurts the Democrats is if it looks like the Democrats are talking more about the social issues and not about the economy," Schultz said.
For Jake Reitan, Randi and Phil's son, the platform represents a turning point. He couldn't be with his parents because he was starting law school at the U of M on the very same day. "It's hugely significant. It represents another step forward in the civil rights march. Myself, as a gay American; I'm better off than I was four years ago," Jake concluded.
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