It's over, phew! A Black candidate is now, officially, the nominee of a major political party. For gay Americans, so much more has transpired. The Democratic Convention at the Pepsi Center – and its day-long arrival at Denver's Invesco Field – triumphantly signaled a new level of political acceptance for gay and lesbian issues in the Democratic Party.

On Monday night, Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy, a long-time gay ally, was the first high-profile Democrat to include gays and lesbians in a speech: “For me, this is a season of hope. ... Barack Obama will close the book on the old politics of race against race, gender against gender, group against group, and straight against gay. ... There is a new wave of change all around us – and if we set our compass true, we will reach our destination – not merely victory for our party, but renewal for our nation.”

The next night, New York Senator Hillary Clinton, in a stirring – but longer than most – speech continued the call for equality. “I ran for president to renew the promise of America. ... To rebuild the middle class ... To promote a clean energy economy ... To create a health care system that is universal, high quality, and affordable ... To create a world class education system ... To fight for an America defined by deep and meaningful equality – from civil rights to labor rights, from women's rights to gay rights ... Most of all, I ran to stand up for all those who have been invisible to their government for eight long years.”

Yet, the best was yet to come, when on the final night of the convention, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama included gay rights as an example of an issue that divides Republicans and Democrats – and one he would like to bridge.

“We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country. The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than those plagued by gang violence in Cleveland, but don't tell me we can't uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. I know there are differences on same sex-marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in a hospital and live lives free of discrimination. Passions may fly on immigration, but I don't know anyone who benefits when a mother is separated from her infant child or an employer undercuts American wages by hiring illegal workers.”

The mention was historic, and it surprised and electrified the crowd, who enthusiastically endorsed the inclusion with a rousing cheer.

The next day, Senator John McCain made his choice for VP – Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin. The choice of Palin makes it painfully obvious that the McCain camp is hooked on winning over Christian conservatives. Palin opposes both abortion rights and gay marriage.

So much for inclusion, Log Cabin Republicans.

Gay marriage may not be the wedge issue it has been in previous election cycles, but don't confuse that with the idea that McCain and Obama share common ground on gay issues, as a recent AP article did. The story, which mislead readers by implying the two men share similar positions on gay issues because they both oppose gay marriage, neglected to flesh out the details of their positions. Indeed, Obama favors civil unions over marriages, but does so for more pragmatic reasons, not personal bias. Obama recognizes the need for legal protections for gay couples in loving relationships. In contrast, McCain believes gay rights – particularly in the areas of marriage and adoption – need to be halted. One is mistrustful of gay voters, while the other seeks them out.

In Massachusetts, anti gay marriage forces are not ready to give up the ship just yet. Leaders at Mass Resistance are seeking to put a measure on the 2010 ballot that would once again ban out-of-state gay couples from marrying there. An unlikely proposition in a state about to celebrate five years of gay marriage in May of 2009.

And it was our own Gay Entertainment Report which brought me the news that The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela, the award-winning transsexual Cinderella film, is set to open in New York and Los Angeles next month.

The Gay Slant pops in most Saturdays at On Top Magazine. Walter Weeks is a writer for On Top Magazine and can reached at