Gay rights issues drive turnout for specific groups of voters

Vote!photo © 2008 Kristin Ausk | more info (via: Wylio)
An independent Quinnipiac (KIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll in January 2009 found a solid majority of Floridians (55 percent) opposing the state law that had long prevented gays and lesbians from adopting children in Florida. Now that an appellate court has declared the law unconstitutional, why would legislators and others even consider trying to reinstate it, given a majority in opposition?

Here’s one possibility: Social issues drive segments of voters to the polls to vote a certain way, while others will consider a variety of factors when choosing a candidate. Gay rights issues such as marriage and other hot-button topics such as abortion propel voters to the polls. The gay marriage issue was successfully used by Republicans in the 2004 presidential race, for example.

Incumbents always have an advantage in a re-election bid, and the Florida Legislature is dominated by Republicans. While an overall majority of Florida voters in the Quinnipiac survey were against the 1977 law, Republicans supported it 52 to 43 percent.

Older voters were also more likely to support the law, the survey found. Forty-two percent of those 55 and older said gays and lesbians should not be allowed to adopt, while only 31 percent of those 18 to 34 years old agreed to maintain the status quo.  Look at  data in any state, and you’ll find older citizens are much more likely to vote than younger ones.  And, of course, Florida has plenty of older voters.

Gay rights issues see slow progress

Quite frankly, politicians are afraid to upset any voter. Witness how long it took for Congress to overturn the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” law, even though numerous polls and surveys for years found majorities of Americans in favor of doing so. In fact, that support has been stronger than any other gay rights issue.

While the fight for civil rights for African-Americans was quite frankly a black and white issue, gay rights are more of a gray area for the general public. There is an ambivalence among many citizens who are neither progressive liberals nor social conservatives. A future posting will look at an academic paper that examined this factor.


About floridagayparents

Graduate student in master's of political communication program University of Florida Gainesville,FL
This entry was posted in adoption, Florida politics, Voters and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Gay rights issues drive turnout for specific groups of voters

  1. Bart Birdsall says:

    I saw an interesting report on the news about how the military has been more progressive and accepting of most issues (blacks and now gays) much sooner than the larger community. The news report seemed to say it was because when you are fighting alongside someone, your views about that “different” person changes very quickly. A squad or whatever you call it becomes tight knit. I found the report interesting. Not sure if it is accurate, but the military leaders who were interviewed claimed this was the case.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s