Sebelius relieved after VP tension lifted

The Associated Press

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is all smiles now that she’s not Barack Obama’s vice presidential choice.Hours after Obama named Delaware Sen. Joe Biden as his running mate, Sebelius addressed a group of gay Democrats gathered in Denver, where the party convention begins Monday.After a short speech, surrounded by well-wishers but only a couple of reporters, Sebelius smiled wide when asked whether she felt a little relieved the vice presidential speculation was over.”It’s a little easier to get out the door, yes,” she said. “You don’t have people saying, ‘Where are you going? What are you doing?'”Sebelius didn’t mention the vice presidential guessing game in her remarks. But she sounded a lot like Biden in her sharp criticism of Republican nominee-to-be John McCain.”The Republican Party has become the party of hate in too many cases,” Sebelius said to cheers from about 200 Stonewall Democrats.She argued that the GOP does not value all families. “They don’t honor families that don’t look exactly like they want them to look,” she said.Twice elected in a Republican stronghold, Sebelius last year signed an executive order adding sexual orientation and gender identity to state nondiscrimination policies. The Stonewall Democrats have said federal nondiscrimination laws should be a major goal for the record-high number of gay and lesbian delegates to this year’s convention.The governor said she regretted failing to talk Kansans out of approving a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in 2005.”It was the wrong direction, the wrong message, totally unnecessary,” Sebelius said, adding that she hoped one day Democrats would win a constitutional majority in the state legislature and “get that off our books.”Afterward, Sebelius was gracious when asked whether she was upset not to be Obama’s running mate. She said only that it was “exciting to have Kansas mentioned in a positive light.”Stonewall Democrats at the speech didn’t seem upset Sebelius wasn’t Obama’s choice.”I think it’s fairly obvious to everyone Sen. Obama chose Biden for his foreign policy experience, and we all support that,” said Chip Arndt, a delegate to the convention from Miami who wore an Obama pin to Sebelius’ remarks.