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Human Rights Coalition

November 4, 2004


Analysis: How Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Issues Affected Election Results

"No elected official can reverse the American people's support for equality," said HRC President Cheryl Jacques. "To win at the ballot box, we must also keep winning at the water cooler."

WASHINGTON - Human Rights Campaign President Cheryl Jacques made the following statement today regarding results of the 2004 presidential and congressional elections.

"Exit polling showed strong support for equal rights and civil unions. No elected official can reverse the American people's support for equality. On the floor of Congress, efforts to divide and discriminate only backfired. We will fight harder than ever for equality. The American people are united against discrimination and the GLBT community will work to lead the fight."

"HRC's record investment in campaigns this year secured a 92 percent success rate in returns. Senators-elect Ken Salazar, D-Colo., and Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Representatives-elect Melissa Bean, D-Ill., and Gwen Moore, D-Wis., will make great additions to our allies on Capitol Hill. Longtime friends of equality like Dennis Moore, D-Kan., Christopher Shays, R-Conn., and Rob Simmons, R-Conn., all fought difficult challenges and won. It is with the support of these members of Congress and the hundreds of others on our side that we will continue our work on behalf of millions of Americans."

"To win at the ballot box, we must also keep winning at the water cooler."


To: Interested Parties From: Cheryl Jacques, President, Human Rights Campaign Date: November 3, 2004

Did Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Issues Have an Effect on the Election?

While voters expressed their opposition to gay marriage where the right wing put the issue on the ballot in eleven states, GLBT issues were not decisive in the presidential campaign or in key senate races. HERE'S WHY...

(1) The surprise priority of moral values did not constitute a change in the makeup of the presidential vote.

* Exit polling suggests that moral values increased as a priority for evangelical voters (who are one in five of all voters), not among the entire electorate. These voters already supported George Bush.

* Thus, the increase in moral values was only among evangelicals, who were Karl Rove's turnout targets from day one.

(2) So what happened in Ohio?

* 89% of African Americans in Ohio voted for John Kerry, more than voted for Al Gore in 2000. The Democratic base didn't get diminished because of this issue.

* For those who care the most about the economy, Democrats didn't make the sale. Half of the voters in Ohio who said the economy was the most important issue to them voted for George Bush.

* Voter turnout on both sides was extremely high. We are still waiting to hear about whether Democratic turnout matched expectations. We know the Republican turnout exceeded their and our expectations.

(3) A large majority of voters support civil unions and basic legal protections for same-sex couples.

* In the same exit polls that said moral issues were important, 61 percent of voters supported some form of legal protection for same-sex couples. Here's the breakdown:

- 27% for legal marriage - 35% for civil unions - 27% against all protection

(4) Swing voters did not swing to George Bush on gay marriage and it's clear the definition of moral values is beyond gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues.

* Fully one half of the voters who said they support civil unions voted for George Bush. The center of gravity in the election was in the voters who support civil unions.

* If polls show moral issues as high on voters' priority list but even half the George Bush voters support civil unions, then caring about "moral issues" does mean opposition to GLBT equality.

(5) Anti-gay marriage measures put on the ballot by the right wing were soundly enacted in ten other states as well. That was and is no surprise. But look at what happened in Oregon...

* In every state except Oregon, those measures were on the ballot simply because the right-wing sought a political advantage.

* Gay marriage was already illegal in those states and there was no attempt in the GLBT community to legalize it.

* Ironically Oregon was different. Same-sex couples sought and received the right to marry in several counties. The voters in Oregon were more evenly divided than in other states. The one state where the public actually saw same-sex couples married was the state with the highest numbers against a ballot measure.

(6) House and Senate races perhaps most clearly make the point that GLBT issues were not decisive in the election.

* While the subject of anti-gay attacks, no one issue resulted in the defeat of leader Tom Daschle except millions and millions of dollars of smear ads and personal attacks.

* The other Senate candidates who were defeated had never supported the key issue for the GLBT community this past year -opposition to the constitutional amendment on marriage including Carson, Tannenbaum, Bowles and others.

* House members who lost were threatened from day one due to redistricting. There is no evidence that GLBT issues played a major role in any of those defeats.


There are important lessons to be learned and the Human Rights Campaign is not naive to the challenges faced by candidates who support GLBT equality. No matter who's in office and how they got there, a majority of the American people support fairness and equality, including for gay relationships, and polls clearly show that.

To win at the ballot box, we must also keep winning at the water cooler. The Human Rights Campaign will aggressively continue its work for non-discrimination in corporate America, in universities and for a balanced voice of faith in religious communities.

The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender political organization with members throughout the country. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that LGBT Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.

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