CHARLOTTE – The Democratic National Convention began in earnest Tuesday morning and part of the first day's business will be to adopt the party platform, which for the first time includes support of gay marriage while reinforcing prior language that supports abortion rights.
"The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman's right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay," states the DNC platform document.
Democrats will use the abortion issue to highlight differences between President Obama and Mitt Romney during the last 63 days of the presidential election. However, party officials have said several times during the past few days that the word "abortion" will not be heard much. Instead, speakers will use the phrase "protecting a woman's right to choose" in order to appeal to the 3 million or so independent voters up for grabs in key states including North Carolina.
In other words, abortion will not be about abortion.
Several female speakers will take to the podium in Charlotte in any effort to downplay any bump that the GOP may have gotten from their all-star lineup of women elected officials and candidates such as South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Utah Congressional candidate Mia Love.
Slated to speak during the DNC are Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards and Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke who will tell voters that the Romney/Ryan ticket will be anti-woman.
It is not clear how or if they will use Rep. Todd Akin's comment last month about "legitimate rape" in floor speeches or if they will simply have their surrogates remind reporters about his comments while trying to tie the Missouri Senate candidate to Gov. Romney.
The other issue Democrats have included in their party's platform for the first time ever is the hot-button topic of same-sex marriage. Until he publicly announced his support in late May, President Obama enjoyed sitting on the fence when it came to gay marriage and did not have to run the risk of alienating more moderate Democrats and independents who may support traditional marriage.
The DNC platform on gay marriage will read: "We also support the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference." The platform opposes "federal and state constitutional amendments and other attempts to deny equal protection under the law to same-sex couples."
The Republican Party platform affirms the "rights of states and the federal government not to recognize same-sex marriage. It backs a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman."
On Tuesday morning the LGBT Caucus met at the Charlotte Convention Center and heard from a number of speakers including Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius who was formerly the governor of Kansas.
Sebelius told those gathered that if Romney were elected "a big tide would wash away LGBT rights." Some in the crowd also yelled out "President Sebelius," as she took the podium. In addition, she said that the Affordable Care Act – also known as Obamacare – was a significant victory for LGBT Americans.
Approximately 550 of the delegates at this year's Democratic Convention are homosexual, including 30 who are members of the National Committee.
Kitty Lambert-Rudd who is attending with her legally wed wife from New York, said she did not believe that the religious beliefs held by many Republicans should get in the way of the Obama administration in their efforts to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.
"How do you tell 10 percent of the population that they have no rights," Lambert-Rudd told The Christian Post.
However, experts dispute the number that 10 percent of Americans are LGBT, instead saying that number is closer to three percent.