By ROBERT GARCIA
President Barack Obama benefited from taking the gay vote. While the presidential debates did not see a single question on LGBT matters, 76 percent of gay voters voted for Obama, according to exit polls.
Five percent of voters in the presidential election identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual. Obama’s overwhelming advantage with these voters helped him greatly, tipping the balance and helping him towards victory.
Denis Dison, the editor of GayPolitics.com and the vice president of communications at the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, said the rapid change in public opinion on such issues as permitting those openly gay to serve in the military, marriage equality, bullying and other related issues made it a smart move for the Republican Party to remain for the most part silent on those issues.
“I’d say LGBT issues were not very prominent this year… and that may have been by design,” he said. Advocates including Dison had hoped for their agenda to get attention from the candidates but the matters most important to them did not enter the vice presidential and presidential debates.
According to polls taken by the Pew Research Center, support for gay rights has been rising considerably since 2004 in the U.S. Voters aged 18 to 29 are especially supportive. Large media campaigns on bullying and equal rights have reached the media-driven youth and helped increase their political support for such issues.
According to polls, young voters are increasing in numbers; the age group of 18 – 29 accounted for 19 percent of voters in 2012. Obama took 60 percent of the youth vote while Romney obtained 36 percent.
When President Obama declared his support for gay marriage equality, Republicans chose to be withdrawn from the subject. While the economy was the dominant issue of the campaign, gay rights was an important and sometimes decisive factor for some voters.
“I just couldn’t see myself voting for Romney, I couldn’t do it,” said Ghassan Khoury, who supported Obama as “the lesser of two evils.” Khoury, a young professional who lives in Brooklyn, identifies as gay.
Khoury said he was concerned that victory for Romney would be a setback for gay rights Romney has consistently opposed legalizing same-sex marriage even as Democrats shifted in the past year to offer support and make the issue part of their platform.
Gay voters are now a sought after group, having demonstrated the power as a minority to sway political outcomes.
Photo: Newsweek dubbed Barack Obama “the first gay president.”