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Janice: From Reagan Republican to Obama Pride

Supporting President Obama wasn't always part of the game plan for Janice, a business analyst and gay woman from Colorado—in fact, she voted for Senator McCain in 2008.

But the last few weeks have changed her mind.

"I'm a Reagan Republican," she explains. "I voted pretty much consistently Republican for most of my life for economic reasons. I'm used to my friends telling me I'm too conservative. And as much as I appreciate the Obamas, that wasn't necessarily where I stood.

"However, having a committed partner and knowing some of the issues we deal with, having leaders who support us has gotten more important to me. So I was very proud of President Obama and Vice President Biden for standing up for me and equality in such a straightforward way with their support of gay marriage. I really liked the way Vice President Biden said 'the Republican Party now is not the Republican Party of our fathers.' He is so right."

Today, Janice says her choice is clear:

"I am going to vote for President Obama and I am very happy about that."

As for her friends: "They were all pretty amazed—but I just told them why, and I told them it made a big difference to me. When I'm in the hospital, I want my partner there. When I go to apply for a job, I look to see whether they're going to discriminate against me. That's something that's just as relevant to me every day as my paycheck. So they're all ecstatic—especially my gay and lesbian friends."

President Obama's support for same-sex marriage "isn't just a social issue," Janice adds. "It has an impact on health care and the economy. Over the last year, I was out of work for six months because of downsizing. Because of the job loss, I also lost health benefits. With a straight couple, as long as one spouse is working, their partner receives the working spouse's benefits. That's much harder for same-sex partners. So I hope I can relay back to people how related these issues are."

Moving forward, Janice anticipates a different kind of conversation about equality.

"I think it's had a lasting impact. To hear President Obama and Vice President Biden lead on this issue in such a nice way and to have this support at that level—I think what it's done is bring it more into the open.

"I think there are a lot of people who have supported gay marriage but haven't wanted to come out vocally in favor. Because of the way the President and Vice President handled it, those people are more willing to voice their support. So from a neighborhood to a community to a state, we're spreading grassroots acceptance instead of 'let's not talk about this.' Today, people are saying, 'Well, the President of the United States did it, and he seems like a good guy.'"

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