Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Homosexual voters are expected to flock to the polls on Tuesday in a bid to tip as many close elections as they can to the Democrats, with presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry likely to get 90 percent of their vote.

What’s missing in some quarters, however, is an emotional outpouring for Mr. Kerry.

“The real question in my mind is what happens after the election,” said Andy Thayer, an activist with DontAmend.com, a group that is fighting bans on homosexual “marriage.”

“One of our mantras is that whoever is elected — whether it’s Bush or Kerry — the key to winning civil rights for our community is to put their feet to the fire,” he said.

According to a decade of exit polls by the defunct Voter News Service, between 4 percent and 5 percent of voters identify themselves as homosexuals — more than enough to sway a close election, especially when homosexuals are likely to register and vote as Democrats.

For example, a survey of 8,000 homosexuals released this month by GLCensus Partners at Syracuse University in New York found that, of registered voters, more than 90 percent of lesbians and nearly 89 percent of homosexual men said they would vote for Mr. Kerry.

Support for Mr. Kerry was particularly strong among homosexuals aged 55 or older, those in partnered relationships and those who were wealthier. More than 90 percent of homosexuals with household incomes of more than $100,000 were Kerry supporters, the survey said.

Mr. Kerry has been a disappointment to homosexual activists because he, like President Bush, opposes full “marriage” rights for same-sex couples, even though he represents the only state in the nation that is performing same-sex “marriages.”

Most activist groups, however, have set aside their dismay and gone all out for the Democratic ticket.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest homosexual activist group, says it is spending more than $6.5 million in this election cycle.

“In the next week, start every day with a single goal: Talk to at least five people about why you think President Bush is guiding this country away from its founding values of fairness and equality, and why you’re going to vote for John Kerry next week,” HRC President Cheryl Jacques said in a statement to supporters released this week.

Many Republican homosexuals also are likely to vote for Mr. Kerry: The GLCensus survey found that half of homosexual male Republicans and 49 percent of lesbian Republicans intend to vote for Mr. Kerry.

Homosexual support for Mr. Bush “is likely to be in the single digits,” unlike the 2000 election, when he got 25 percent, or more than 1 million homosexual votes, said Chris Barron, political director of Log Cabin Republicans, a group that represents homosexual Republicans.

The “deal breaker” is Mr. Bush’s support for a federal marriage amendment and the Republicans’ use of it as a campaign issue, Mr. Barron said yesterday, noting that the marriage issue overrode other concerns such as the war in Iraq or tax policies.

Mr. Bush’s latest statements on same-sex “marriage” only add to the confusion, said Mr. Barron, referring to yesterday’s ABC’s “Good Morning America” interview with Mr. Bush, in which he said he supports states’ rights to create a civil union or other legal arrangement for homosexual couples.

The president said essentially the same thing a few months ago on CNN’s “Larry King Live,” Mr. Barron said.

The problem is that “he’s supporting a constitutional amendment that wouldn’t allow for civil unions. I’m not sure whether this is a shift away from his support for the marriage amendment or what.”

Mr. Thayer and his allies don’t support Mr. Bush, but they don’t have high hopes for Mr. Kerry either.

“If John Kerry is elected, we may get kinder rhetoric, but we had kinder rhetoric under Bill Clinton and yet we got ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ [military policy] and the Defense of Marriage Act.”

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