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Included out 

My partner and I were watching our nightly TV when promptly at 10 p.m., the Republican Convention took our television hostage. We let out a synchronized moan, but then decided to see what "the other guys" were up to in 2000.

The newscaster yammered on about how positive the Republicans were trying to be at this year's convention. There was to be no Clinton/Gore bashing. No buttons, no signs, no negativity. The media seemed proud of their success at achieving their new standard of civility.

Then they showed a quick flashback of pre-10 p.m. events. Lots of diversity was the evident goal of the evening. However, the faces of color shown in the clips were not in the delegation parties, but on stage--on display. Then came a snippet of Sen. Kolbe's speech.

Kolbe, a Republican from Arizona, a conservative-looking, balding man, stepped to the podium to speak. But what's this we see next? A protest from the front-and-center Texas contingency.

Nearly all of the Texas delegation had tipped their ten-gallon hats and looked to the ground in "prayer" while Kolbe, a man honest enough with himself and his country to be out about being gay, presented his words of wisdom. Many of the delegates had also placed their American flags upside down, a well-known signal of distress.

So here were Kolbe's Republican colleagues boasting strong family values and inclusiveness for all segments of our population, but shunning one of their own.

What was that about? Do these people think their actions gave me any comfort about where the leadership of my country might be headed? They were taking a symbol of freedom and using it to disrespect a fellow human being, and, by extension, thousands of other gay and lesbian Americans.

Flying our flag upside down, after earlier pledging allegiance to it, was shameful, in my opinion. They were not in distress. They were using an American icon to display disgust and hatred for a man who had been elected to office by Arizona Republicans.

Were we scared? Yes, frightened that this Grand Old Party was going to "take back America"--way back--into the dark ages of a judgmental and prejudiced government. If the goal was inclusiveness, please don't include us.

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