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Record presence - more than 8 percent - for LGBT people at Democratic National Convention

BY DAVID CRARY, AP NATIONAL WRITER

WASHINGTON -- The Democratic National Convention is a watershed event for America's gay rights movement, which never before has been embraced so warmly by a major political party.

There's a platform endorsing same-sex marriage, a roster of speakers that includes three gay members of Congress, and a record number of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender delegates hailing from all 50 states - 486 in all, more than 8 percent of the total.

"We've been an underrepresented demographic in politics for a long time," said Jerame Davis of National Stonewall Democrats, a gay-rights affiliate of the party. "Finally seeing us appropriately represented is just a thrill."

The large role for gays and lesbians is a striking contrast with last week's Republican convention, which ratified a platform opposing gay-rights priorities and was attended by perhaps a few dozen openly gay delegates. It also shows how far the Democrats have evolved since Bill Clinton, now a staunch supporter of same-sex marriage, signed a bipartisan bill in 1996 defining marriage as a one-man, one-woman union.

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