Turning Out The Gay Vote

by Patrick Appel

Mark Thompson argues that gay rights issues should help politicians who support them. This makes sense to me:

[T]he notion that gay rights are issues that tend to help Democrats more than Republicans should be intuitively true.  By and large, civil rights for gays have no conceivable adverse effects on anyone, no matter what the Maggie Gallaghers of the world claim.  But the lack of equal civil rights for gays has an obvious, direct, and appalling effect on a specific element of the electorate.  People, whatever their political worldview, show up to vote primarily because of things that they care about, things that they think will directly affect them.  In the case of gay rights, that means 3-4 percent of the electorate, and (to a lesser extent) the close friends and families thereof.  Even amongst social conservatives, few are going to be so consumed by their hatred of civil rights for gays as to make it the primary or decisive factor in their showing up to the polls to pull the lever for the guy with the (R) next to his name.

Knowing someone who is gay increases support for gay rights. As the closet disappears, the friends and family effect Thompson talks about will only grow stronger.