Joe Mirabella

Could Gays Cost Democrats the Election?

Filed By Joe Mirabella | October 25, 2010 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: 2010 Election, Barack Obama, Democratic majority, GetEqual, Political Strategy, Republican control

The Associated Press reported on Sunday that the LGBT community is so angry about the lack of movement on LGBT rights that many plan not to vote. Some are even voting against the incumbent even if that means voting Republican. The story was picked up by over 80 publications nationwide, because gays could hand the election to the Republicans.

If Democratic candidates are counting on long-standing support from gay voters to help stave off big losses on Nov. 2, they could be in for a surprise.

Across the country, activists say gay voters are angry - at the lack of progress on issues from eliminating employment discrimination to uncertainty over serving in the military to the economy - and some are choosing to sit out this election or look for other candidates.

While I understand the anger, and am extraordinarily disappointed by the lack of movement on our issues during the last two years, are we really prepared for two or more years of Republican control at the federal level and, perhaps worse, the loss of Democratic majorities at the state level?

In Washington state our Democratic majority will bring us marriage equality in the next one or two years max. However, if people do not return their ballots with votes for Democrats, we are screwed.

Likewise in Iowa, Chet Culver a very pro-equality governor is in serious jeopardy against anti-gay Terry Branstad. Do we really want to lose Iowa's marriage equality? Call me selfish, but I don't.

In New York, Illinois, and Minnesota, we have the opportunity to turn those states towards equality, or the serious chance of losing them to inequality for years. Is that a good strategy?

There are good Democrats, like Congressmen Jim McDermott who have been working for our rights for decades, yet if we lost the Democratic majority in the House as some predict, their work will be over until Republicans are defeated again.

There are good people who have fought hard for us who we need to re-elect. There are good people who will fight hard for us who we still need to elect. There are even gays, lesbians, and transgender people running for office. We need to show them all the support possible with our time, money, and votes.

Yes, we can be angry. Yes, we can be selective with how we spend our time or money, but to do nothing is the worst strategy possible.

I'm curious, if those of you who plan not to participate in the election have a plan for November 3 when Republicans are in control. I don't see a remotely possible path to our equality while they are in charge. Do you?

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Chitown Kev | October 25, 2010 8:06 PM

It would be nice if we had that kind of electoral power but I don't think that we do in most places.

LGBTs do have that power. Just lok at what happened at the UK general election earlier this year: the Tories won the largest share of the vote (36.1%) and the largest number of seats (306 of 650). They needed 326 seats for an overall majority but, because Sinn Feinn's five MPs refuse to swear allegiance to the Crown, only 323 for a working majority - seventeen more than the Tories won. So the Tories missed the target by about 2.6% of seats. However in terms of votes, they actually lost by a much slimmer margin than that. In many of the constitencies where they lost, the margin was close enough that a shift of less than 2% in their favour could have seen the Tories get either a slim majority or close enough to a majority for a coalition with the DUP (eight seats) to be an option.

In summer 2009, the Tories enjoyed unprecedented support amongst the LGBT community at just under 50%, ahead of both Labour and the Lib Dems, but over the subsequent twelve months that support collapsed. By the day of the election LGBT support for the Tories had fallen to low single figures and they were down in fourth place, behind the Lib Dems, Labour and Greens. The last government's official estimate of the UK's LGBT population was 6%. Assuming this to be accurate, the size of the drop in support amongst LGBT voters was more than enough to make a difference of over 2% to the outcome last May.

So while Britain's gays didn't determine which party would have a majority, we did force them into a coalition by denying them an absolute majority.

tavdy79, I've looked at those numbers over there.

Oh, I think that we do have the power over here in the States to flip some states, I simply don't think that we know HOW to harness that power as of yet.

I also like your pointing to the parlimentary elections because that's the only model that I know of that would indicate that LGBTs probably would not leave the Democratic Party en masse once a majority or all civil rights are attained.

Oh, and there are many in the community that also condemn Bill Clinton and see Obama as the the third term of the Clinton Administration too when it comes to LGBT issues (and that's the way I see him.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | October 26, 2010 2:53 PM

It definitely was the LGBT vote swinging back to Labour that cost Tories the election by a few votes in a few key swing constituencies. We went for Labour because the Tories openly and repeatedly voted against LGBT equality measures.

In the end the Tories, whose closest analog in the US is the Democrats, returned to their Thatcherite roots.

So we do have a big effect on votes, but not in the same ways. There's a big difference between a parliamentary system and a state run by a political duopoly like the Democrat-Republicans. The two Party system was crafted to contain and stifle dissent and keep it locked up in an unending shell game of lesser evilism.

The same forces that will topple the English state - economic collapse and imposed austerity - will topple the two party duopoly in the US. Major shifts in power took place in 1996, 2006 and will again this year. That's a giddy change of pace for Congress, which for decades was a smiling, handshaking bipartisan playground for the rich. It's now a bitterly polarized and very partisan battleground.

Polling consistently shows the Democrats getting justifiably smacked down in next Tuesday's election but the only poll that counts is the election. It'll be interesting as a gauge of how soon, how deeply and how abruptly the economic collapse will be reflected in the breakup of the Democrat/Republicans.

I think comparing the UK to the US especially in politics is like comparing the US to Uganda politics. The Democrats are a center right organization and the Republicans are far right organization. There are no progressive organizations that can win a majority. Therefore, there is no reason for a progressive to vote. We in the LGBT community need to wise up that neither the Legislative nor the Executive Branches of government are going to do anything about LGBTQ equality. They never have, and never will. We must do the hard lifting in the Courts. Give your money to AFER or the ACLU or some other organization that HAS ACTUALLY GOTTEN US RIGHTS. Politicos are cowards when it comes to our community and they love their 75000 dollar mercedes and their 2 million dollar condos in DC to ever risk voting for our rights.

Chitown Kev | October 27, 2010 9:51 AM

You know, we're talking here about LGBT switching from Tory to Labour but in the parlimentary elections there seemed to be Labour votes that switched to Liberal Democrat votes as well.

In other words, the LGBT community in Britain moved to the left instead of the right, which had been predicted for years.

I never understood the "cut off your nose in spite of your face" approach. Not only in this specific instance of withholding your vote from your allies, but in general with GLBT people who support anti-gay/trans, anti-choice candidates. I'm looking at you, Log Cabin Republicans. And don't even get me started on GOProud.

Not voting, or voting for a third party candidate, is opting out of the system. That means our political rivals will carry the day.

Funny, LCR has made more progress on DADT repeal than the Obama Administration. True it was through the courts but the Obama Administration blew the only shot we are going to have through Congress for years. I'm not buying what you're selling.

Triangulation at its best. Piss us off then blame us when things don't go your way. I'm not buying it.

The AP article misses so many other points on why the Democrats might lose other than the LGBT Community not coming out in force. Which Io am sure in the end that we will do voting the "Dems suck less, but still suck ticket"/

The AP article is a very dangerous one because it sets the LGBT Community up to be scapegoats when we don;t have that type of voting power to cause candidates to lose. If we did we would not be in the situation that we are in now. Our voting block weilds no power unfortunatly.

I must add though also that LGBT bloggers need to be very careful when posing this question and reffering to the AP article and lay out all the facts while the Dems might lose and not as not to justify it and place blame on the LGBT Community in case of a Democratic midterm massacre.

"The AP article is a very dangerous one because it sets the LGBT Community up to be scapegoats . . ."

Well, we're the only Democrats that went out of our way to heckle, embarrass, interrupt and humiliate the President, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and others.

I don't think we'll be trying that again.

Not to mention redistricting...

This is the reason the DNC is just laughing at our community. Come on people enough is enough with the fear. At the federal level the Senate still has the filibuster. Plus the president has the veto. Now I realize that the Dems have been spineless but maybe they will find it when they are in the minority. As for the states we may lose a few state houses but it won't be because of us.
I swear bloggers are buying into the battered spouse syndrome aka gay Rihanna. She was smart enough to leave her abuser. Let's show some political courage for a change.

Without 60 votes in the Senate? That's childish Tim. It's GetEQUAL "hold-their-feet-to-the-fire" childish. I understand being disappointed, but not being stupid. What do we gain by helping remove Democrats?

Ultimately, when someone votes they have to take the best chance for progress. That choice is limited to two parties (for now) are you're suggesting that we slap Democrats by not voting for them? Why?

As you yourself have implied, absolutely nothing has really been acomplished in the past 16 years. You have said that prptests don't work. Being cushy friends with democrats have not worked. When even the gay congress people hang us out to dry. Best to just support those that support us. Why waste our money on those that would just use us. We don't have a lot of power, but if we dump the nonsupporters, the supporters would see a three fold increase, abd that would catch people's notice. Let's just be selective.

Selective and smart. I've never suggested we can't win - I am intrigued that so many people believe we just have to "vote for the right people." We can't keep making our equality someone else's job - it's our job. WE have to do this and I think we can.

I'm really starting to think you are schizophrenic. You tell us in other threads there is no political solutions then you come on this thread and tell us how we have to vote for the Democrats. The fact is nothing is going to happen either way these next 2 years good or bad for us on the federal level. If you truly believe in the Democrats nothing bad will happen because they have the filibuster and a president with veto power.
Hell what do we need 65 Democrats in the Senate before we have enough. Please it will never happen and the Democrats would still throw us under the bus.

I never told anyone to vote for Democrats. I told you your "not voting" may feel like you're slapping them in the face, but it's ineffective.

No, we don't need 65 votes. 60 will be sufficient.

We had 60 Democrats but we didn't have 60 votes which is exactly my point. The Dems can't keep their people in line plain and simple.

Gee Whiz Tim we have 5 conservative Democrats. They are really Republicans when it comes to LGBT-issues.

And this year's crop of Republican U. S. Senate candidates are, almost without exception, far to the right of the Senators (R or D) they would be replacing - meaning that this election could move the Senate substantially to the Christianist, homophobic, social-issue right for the next six years. This would be a disaster for lgbt-friendly legislation and for liberal (or even moderate)nominees to the Supreme Court during that period.

"Could Gays Cost Democrats the Election?"

Which gays? The new strategy of "embarrassing, humiliating and irritating Democrats into submission" has already helped Republicans. This juvenile strategy suggests that politics is somehow more than "hope." There are two teams (for now) and when you vote you pick one. You don't negotiate and make some "deals" for any legislation. That idea is childish - there is a big difference between Democrats and Republicans. There is no real choice.

In politics you get what you hope for. Deal with it. Throwing tantrums because you are unhappy is what a child does. If you think about it, it also helps the OTHER TEAM.

Politics sucks. It isn't an answer to our equality. It is a shame to see people so obsessed with politics they think it will save them. It won't. In fact, believing that is lazy. Our equality is something we will have to do. The sooner we wake up and realize that, the sooner we will achieve equality and own politicians.

So, you decide - you can play a game where we are used, or you can begin to think about winning. If you must play politics don't be childish enough to think you can punish Democrats. Don't buy into this silly idea that we can embarrass people into submission. This year will prove that strategy has hurt us badly. It's 1994 all over again. If we're smart we won't repeat the last 16 years or the last 9 months - we'll think and grow up.

I've got one vote. I'm not going to be bullied into party loyalty in hopes of getting some productivity accomplished. I'll vote for who I want to vote for in the privacy of the voting booth. I'm sick of the finger-pointing.

Candidates cost themselves elections, not voters.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | October 26, 2010 2:15 AM

Could Gays Cost Democrats the Election?


But not without allies which we seem to have, at least in the sense of other groups who felt the sting of betrayal for the nth time and are reacting by staying home. "Blacks, young adults, and women -- groups the Democrats are hoping will repeat their high voter turnout performance of 2008 -- are currently showing subdued interest in the 2010 midterm elections..." Gallup, September 3rd.

Add unionists unhappy about the Obama/Congressional refusal end massive unemployment, pauperization and homelessness.

Add Latino/Latina voters angry about the Oabma/Congressinal politics of immigrant bashing and their racist denial of health care.

Add environamentalists amazed at the handling of the Gulf disaster and the fact that no one from BP or Galiburton is ever going to jail for it.

Add GIs angry about Obama/Congressional actsions that waste live for oil.

Those people learned the same lessons we learned about ENDA, DADT and DOMA and they won't be voting for the Democrats racism, wars and mass unemployment.

After the election two important questions will be answered.

1)Are the now regrularly occuring flip in Congressional contril a sign of increasing political instablity?

2) How long will it take Congressional Republicans to become as despised as the Democrats they're replacing?

Such interesting times we live in.

As hard as it is not to become cynical about the political process, we MUST continue over the next couple of years to play the game. We want fairness and equality and we want it NOW, but we should have known all along that improvements will come but only slowly. The resistance to social change always is high and mean because it's based in fear and hatred. But, the Democratic party, in general, does support gay rights, marriage, etc. The change will take time. I predict that if we can maintain a Democratic Congress in 2010, we will make huge strides in the next two Obama years. The alternative, passively pouting in the corner, certainly will result in regression as the gay hating republicans take over again. If gays, representing somewhere between 8-12% of the voting populations (conservatively), don't vote, we are politically and socially suicidal. Please support the next two years' agenda on social change. I've already cast my ballot.

Sorry but I like to have what you are smoking. Even if the Democrats keep their majorities they will be much slimmer ones. They were lurch towards the right as quick as they can. We will see absolutely NO mention on GLBT issues in the next year. Period. End of story. Then the president and the Democratic party will come begging for money and votes again. They'll say all the right things. You're so pretty we love you and if you get us a majority(Hmmmm starting to sound familiar.) we would repeal ENDA, DADT, DOMA. But you better get us 65 Democratic Senators because we as a party can't keep our own in line. And you people will buy it again.
I'll say it again the coward's way is to vote Democrat because you are scared of the Republicans. Please people you are worst then our president. Grow a spine. Vote for Democrats who support true equality. If they don't then vote 3rd party or write someone in.

The New Yorkers could vote for the Green Party. If the Greens get 50,000 votes for their governor candidate (the awesome Howie Hawkins), they get their ballot line back, making it easier for them to run candidates and win races in the next election. At leat for New Yorkers, you have the option of voting for a good progressive third party candidate as you means of giving a big F you to the democrats.

It is important to vote even if you are angry at Democrats, esp. the Blue Dogs. Most ballots have important races besides Congress. If you want to punish a Democrat, or Obama in absentia, vote for a 3rd party or an independent candidate, or write in a GLBT celebrity. Or even cast a blank ballot as a way of saying "none of the above." If you don't vote, your inaction will be interpreted as apathy, not as anger. By the way, yesterday was the 81st birthday of David McReynolds, the first openly gay man to run for president (in 1980 and 2000) on the Socialist Party USA ticket.
Most GLBT people I know are not single-issue voters. They have plenty of other reasons to reject Democrats -- Afghanistan, joblessness, foreclosure mess, botched watered-down healthcare bill, etc. And there may be a few moderate Republicans or Libertarians out there who might merit our vote.

Tom well said. I would never tell someone not to vote. I got my sample ballot in the mail yesterday and my husband and I went through it. Our Congressman and Senator are Democrats get our vote. Our governor who when finally pressed said he would sign and marriage equality bill but would not push it after being opposed doesn't get my vote. Our AG who ruled that SSM from other states must be recognized gets my vote. Of the 3 Democrats running for our House of Delegates right now only one is getting my vote and we are in the district that swings either way.

I will not vote for President Obama again.

That being said, I will do not want anti-Gay candidates elected on the local or state levels.

Having lived in the state of Virginia in the early 2000's, my Partner and I were very verbal about the possible political movement of the state to the right by the Republicans. We were continually told that they could not do this. There were Gays who continually told us that they were doing well so there was no problem.
Just go to work, pass for straight and/or not be perceived as Gay and everything will be fine.

Now on the local and state level, there are candidates who are anti-Gay. We have Gay friends who live in South Florida. They are living the good life. They do not attend Gay events or support Gay causes. Some are even voting for Marco Rubio.

Deja vu!!!

Fear, hate, manipulation, selective remembering of facts. These are all factors of why I voted, and used the "none of the above" selection in many elections. I will vote for good candidates, but why would I vote for Harry Reid when he fails to follow through as much as Sharron Angle? Why would I vote for Sharron Angle when she's a complete and utter wackjob? At least I know Sharron Angle can do far less damage over six years, and have the benefit of removing a long-term obstacle to our rights, Harry Reid, from office--although my "none of the above vote" is more likely to help Reid than Angle, according to most accounts. So, perhaps I should have voted for Angle even though I despite her political positions.

Nothing ever changes if patterns are not broken and lessons are not learned. Bill Clinton betrayed gays and lesbians, and many in the community hail his as a hero. Barack Obama has done the same. I choose to vote for those who try to do their best and keep their promises--not those who promise to us and disappointed us over and over.

Politics is a long-term proposition. There are many Democratic senators that have had tens of decades to follow through, and yet have cared more about maintaining their power than advocating for their GLBT constituents.

We will never have different candidates if we continue to vote for the ones we have--there is no incentive to take risk.

At the very least, I am in agreement with the writers who astutely point out that constituents do not lose elections--candidates do. By continuing to demean the GLBT community, and then chastising it when it fails to bend to political will, is artless and jejune.

If anyone cares, I will be voting Democratic, and likely not even split my ticket at all. While I am VERY disappointed in the lack of progress made by this Congress and Administration in connection with LGBT rights, do not see the Republicans doing anything at all for us if they gain a control of either the upper or lower chamber. So while I have not been opening my checkbook to the Democrats I do not plan to abstain from voting or vote Republican or 3rd or 4th party as a punishment to the Democrats lack of progress. Ultimately everyone needs to ask this one question of themselves. Do you really think putting Republicans or Third Party Candidates in to office will improve the lives of LGBT Americans? My belief is no.

This is a crucial election. Any LGBT folks who sincerely care about not moving BACKWARD need to show up to vote and vote Democratic Party . A Congress run by the Tea Party haters is NOT in our interest.

Stonewall Girl Stonewall Girl | October 26, 2010 11:44 PM

Why would we allow our enemies to elect our leaders?

I cannot understand!

I am just as disappointed as everyone else by the broken promises, but saying that either Congress or the President "never" did "anything" for LGBT issues and never will is inaccurate and childish, I could try to make a point all I want saying "I'm right because the sky is orange and it always was orange and it will always be orange, and because the sky is orange, oranges really should be called skies." That doesn't mean I've actually said anything at all.

If you can't make your point without wildly misrepresenting the facts, than stay home close the lap top, and pick up a book, newspaper or magazine and learn yerself some facts.

Joe presents the realities in this piece. Joe doesn't make up things and make wild off-the deep-end statements to prove his own points. He does his job.

Here are the facts: both houses of Congress passed the Hate Crimes bill (love it or hate it, it counts) and that bill was signed by the President. The House passed DADT repeal. The President, in addition, has amped up the HIV/AIDS budget and prevention efforts, has extended (through Presidential memo instead of Executive order which is a bit disappointing, but still a positive step) all of the spousal benefits he's able under the weight of DOMA and hospital visitation rights to same-sex partners. He's also just released guidance to all public schools about their responsibilities to stop SPECIFICALLY anti-gay and anti-trans bullying under Title IX, or face a reduction in Federal funding. This president has also made more gay hirings in his administration than any other President in history by far. The State Department and Justice Department have also taken additional measures, on top of what the President has done, to do what they can for LGBT people.

Have they and do they continue to do some things very very wrong? Absolutely. There's your point. But to say these leaders have done and will done nothing is a lie, and you can't make a point with a bold-faced lie. Sorry.

I have never said they have done nothing but let's break down each point you made. First off hate crimes. Hate crimes had passed previous Congresses this president merely signed it. How many cases have charges been brought using this in relation to anti-gay violence? If you said zero you would be right. The DoJ has not brought one case in the year or so it has been passed. And frankly though it's a nice gesture I'd rather have a law that protected me while I'm not injured or dead.
DADT repeal. Why in the world are we deceiving ourselves that this is a repeal. First off the administration did not want this brought forth at all. It is only when Nancy Pelosi said we are going to do it they got on board. Even so they talked the House into watering down the bill. One no anti-discrimination language whatsoever. It was stripped from the bill. This will allow the DoD to set up seperate facilities for GLB soldiers and the talk is that it is one of the things on the table. They also had to include language and here is why it's not a repeal bill that says it will only happen after Gates, Mullen, and Obama have signed off which could be years. Gates a few times said if instead of when DADT is repealed. We are being played but most have not educated themselves on the matter.
HIV/AIDS funding good step. Spousal benefits affect such a small subset and many say they gained very few if any benefits. Hospital visitation??? Really?? They issued a memo with a vague threat that if you don't we might hold Medicare funds. Won't believe it until I see it. It's pretty toothless. As for the anti-bullying did you read the statement. They even admit they can't currently force anything because sexual orientation is not a protected class. Read exactly what they put out. They try an end around with gender which would be laughed out of court.
As for the DoJ really??? One that early on tried to equate our relationships with incest. The same DoJ that if fighting tooth and nail to keep DADT. And even if you buy into they have to defend all laws debunked by legal experts there was no reason for the emergency injunction plain and simple.
In summary this administration has done little when you look at everything under the microscope and we have little progress. I'm not sure why we would believe that we will see any more progress in the next two years and a second term is far from a given.

And the Congress has done even less. Obama promised to "work with Congress to repeal DADT." That won't be possible now - we are about to have a Republican Congress.

i'm sure those candidates you cite are nice people, but some of us vote in districts that don't have any candidates who could remotely be considered gay-friendly. In such cases, if they want to sit out this election, I'm not going to blame them.

Not everyone lives in NY or a state that has gay marriage.