LGBT Community Expected To Work for Obama Re-Election
By Sanjena Sathian
June 23, 2012
Mike Testa thinks a gay Republican is an oxymoron.
An activist for gay rights, Mr. Testa spends his down time lobbying for marriage equality and other gay rights on the state level, but these days one of his major concerns is getting President Barack Obama re-elected in November.
Mr. Obama’s campaign is taking advantage of the LGBT community’s energy during Pride Month, which takes place across the country in June. Obama Pride, an LGBT-outreach arm of the campaign, launched in May just after the president’s statement of support for marriage equality. Since then, the campaign has held voter registrations, phone banks and volunteer sign-ups in several states, including Ohio, Nevada and Florida. The goal is to make sure LGBT voters show up to vote in November.
“I’m a business owner, and I do like some Republican business thinking,” said Mr. Testa, CEO of his own consulting company. Still, he said he could never vote for Mitt Romney. “It would put us back in the Stone Age.”
But during the 2010 midterm elections, gay Republicans weren’t quite so hard to find. According to CNN exit polls, 29 percent of self-identifying LGBT voters went Republican — one of the highest percentages ever, and a change from 2008, when 81 percent of LGBT voters chose Mr. Obama. Patrick Egan, who researches the political activism of the LGBT community at New York University, said gay voters have voted between 20 and 30 percent Republican since the 1980s — “and if it’s a particularly good moment for Republicans,” Democrats can and do lose gay votes.
Gary Gates, a demographer at the Williams Institute at UCLA, concluded last year that about 3.8 percent of the population — 4 million people — are LGBT. Around 3 percent of registered couples in Pennsylvania are same-sex, according to Mr. Gates’ institute.
Mary McThomas, a professor of political science at Mississippi State, studied the possible impact of the gay vote on the election. In the wake of the shift in 2010, she said the gay vote could make a difference electorally despite the small size of the community.