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Democrats take over Charlotte for convention

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First lady Michelle Obama smiles after being introduced during a Human Rights Campaign luncheon at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

The first official day of the Democratic National Convention began Tuesday in Charlotte, with delegates, lawmakers and other party members making their case for President Barack Obama’s re-election.

Among the proceedings for the convention’s first night was the call for a federal law recognizing same-sex marriages as part of the official party platform, making this the first time that a political party has included formal support for same-sex marriage in its platform.

This addition to the party’s platform is significant, and according to College of Communication sophomore Rachel Berkowitz, historic.

Not only are the delegates planning to re-elect our nation’s first African-American president, but they are also endorsing the first LGBT equality plank. I think it’s amazing that we are actually, finally one step closer to equality for LGBT rights,” Berkowitz said.

Though the LGBT news swept the convention, it was the ladies of the party who captured the audience with their speeches Tuesday.

U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore of Milwaukee joined two dozen other current and aspiring female members of the House of Representatives Tuesday night to discuss what they described as “women’s issues,” including abortion rights and domestic violence legislation.

“No victim of domestic violence or bullying – man or woman – should feel unprotected in America … The Democratic women of the House will fight violence against all Americans to move America forward,” Moore said.

Women’s issues and questions over abortion rights raised at the DNC have been a key focus of this year’s election. The issues were further highlighted after Missouri GOP Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin made comments concerning what he defined as “legitimate rape,” which raised questions from both parties.

Both parties have called for the resignation of Akin, including Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney, who has gone on the record both disagreeing with Akin’s remarks and saying he would support abortion in cases of rape and when the mother’s life is at risk.

Michelle Obama’s speech concluded Tuesday night, and according to College of Arts & Sciences sophomore Kyle Whelton, stole the show.

Michelle Obama gave one of the greatest speeches in the history of the DNC last night as she addressed the floor,” he said. “It’s no secret that the Obamas have a very high personal likability amongst voters; it seems that voters do not hold their policy disagreements against the President personally, which allows for a speech like we saw last night.”

The first lady described Obama’s childhood in Hawaii and also shared her own background growing up in Chicago. Michelle Obama recalled her first dates with him, when “he was so poor that his only pair of decent shoes was half a size too small.”

Michelle Obama’s family-centric speech reflected the mood of the convention and set the tone for a slew of family-related speeches. The speeches at the convention often took personal turns, with many delegates connecting the issues with their own families.

San Antonio mayor and keynote speaker Julian Castro discussed his grandmother’s immigration and family story and worked his way into discussing Romney, who was not mentioned in Michelle Obama’s speech.

“We all understand that freedom isn’t free,” Castro said. “What Romney and Ryan don’t understand is that neither is opportunity. We have to invest in it.”

The Democratic National Convention concludes tonight, and Barack Obama is slated to accept the Democratic presidential nomination at 6 p.m.

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