Conservatives Praise Gay Voters’ Shift to the Right
Gay voters displeased with the Obama administration’s record on GLBT issues joined in with the rest of the electorate in making their anger known at the ballot box on Nov. 2.
Exit polls suggested that Democrats had lost about half their support from the GLBT community, compared with two years ago, reported Before It’s News.com on Nov. 4. The site said that gays have become Obama’s most vocal critics--"Even louder than the Tea Party"--and cited CNN as saying that 31% of self-identified GLBTs had cast their votes for Republican candidates. The article noted that in 2008, only 19% of GLBTs voted Republican--with 63% of the LBGT community voting Democratic.
"With their 2010 shift in support, LGBT voters are letting the President know that if he is not going to enact their agenda, while just watching as the economy goes in the tank," the article read, "[t]hey might as well vote Republican!" The article went on to note, "Conservatives will probably not enact their agenda either, but at least they will do something to fix our faltering economy."
The day before the election, mainstream news sources were predicting that gay voters would swallow their anger and stick with Democrats. Reuters declared in a Nov. 1 article that gays were "unlikely to abandon" Democrats at the ballot box. But the article also noted that GLBT equality advocates had encouraged gays not to donate money to Democrats, which some saw as a more powerful means of expressing discontent for a vocal, but not politically overpowering, minority. Stanford University’s Gary Segura cast the issued in stark numerical terms when he told Reuters, "At the national level, there are just not enough gays and lesbians to be politically powerful" in terms of most election outcomes. The article also said that Democrats had suffered financially, with gays giving substantially less than they did two years ago.
The Advocate credited gay voters with helping to "propel" the political shakeup that took place on Election Day. In a Nov. 4 article, The Advocate cited conservative gay group GOProud as offering the election results as proof that the Tea Party not only had room for GLBT members, but that gays, like many straights, favor smaller government--and might hope for limited government to translate into less interference in their lives.
"The gay left would have you believe that gay conservatives don’t exist," said Jimmy LaSalvia, the group’s executive director. "Now we see that almost a third of self-identified gay voters cast ballots for Republican candidates for Congress in this year’s mid-term. This should be a wake-up call for the out-of-touch so-called leadership of Gay, Inc. in Washington, D.C., which has become little more than a subsidiary of the Democrat Party."
Prior to the election, LaSalvia had called for gay voters to swing rightward. "The men and women that GOProud is endorsing and recommending will help bring common-sense conservative solutions to the challenges facing gay Americans and the country as a whole," LaSalvia declared in a GoProud press release.
"While the Democrats talk a good game when it comes to gay issues, their record speaks for itself," said GOProud Chairman Christopher R. Barron. "On jobs and the economy, on taxes, on retirement security, and on healthcare the Democrats reign in Washington has been an absolute disaster for gay people."
Barron addressed the persistent conceptual gap between gays and conservatism in an Oct. 11 EDGE article when he said, "It’s easier to come out as gay to conservatives than to come out as a conservative in gay circles." The article noted that GOProud, in addition to provoking fury from the anti-gay right (which views gay conservatives as "fake" conservatives), had also sparked the wrath of the gay left, which has leveled an array of colorful and evocative labels at the groups--everything from "Uncle and Auntie Toms" to "Chickens for Col. Sanders."
Barron dismissed such talk. "The message of the Tea Party is resonating well with a lot of gay people," he noted to EDGE. That message, Barron said, runs along the lines of, " ’I want the government to stay out of my life as much as possible. I want the government to leave me alone.’ "
On Top Magazine, reporting Nov. 5 on the surge of gays voting Republican, recounted that GLBT disaffection with Obama had been growing throughout the president’s first two years, finally reaching a peak when the Justice Department sought, and obtained, a stay on a federal court’s injunction against "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell," the anti-gay law that punishes openly GLBT troops with discharge while allowing closeted servicemembers to remain in the ranks of the Armed Forces. Although it is standard practice for administrations to defend current law in court challenges, gays took this as a sign that the Obama administration was simply telling them what they wanted to hear while neglecting, or even working against, their interests.
Ironically, even as Obama has come in for harsh criticism from GLBT equality advocates frustrated at what they see as a lack of action on their issues from the White House, the anti-gay right has been just as critical of the president for the overtures he has made to sexual minorities, including a record number of GLBT appointees.
Obama himself disputed the idea that his administration had given cause for disaffection to GLBT voters, telling a group of gay bloggers in the days leading up to the elections that, "I guess my attitude is that we have been as vocal, as supportive of the LGBT community as any President in history." Obama, who was addressing a question from AmericaBlog’s Joe Sudbury, went on to say, "We have moved forward on a whole range of issues that were directly under my control, including, for example, hospital visitation." Added the president, "And so, I’ll be honest with you, I don’t think that the disillusionment [on the part of GLBTs] is justified."
A sizeable percentage of the gay vote disagreed. Whatever the extent of gays voting Republican might have had on the outcome, the election results--which saw the defeats of GLBT equality supporters Russ Feingold in the Senate and Patrick Murphy, the sponsor of legislation that would have repealed DADT, in the House-- may yet give the country’s GLBTs cause for remorse, according to some equality advocates. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Rea Carey was blunt about this, saying, "The shift in the balance of power will very likely slow advancement of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights legislation in Congress." But gradual, hard-won progress, Carey added, is more often than not the case for sexual minorities: "Fact is, our community has always had to fight--and fight hard--for equality."