A gay media monitor is calling on the US to examine how growing cultural acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and families helped to shape — and will be impacted by — the 2006 mid-term elections.
The poll saw a record increase in the amount of gay and lesbian candidates elected, but was coupled with gay marriage bans implemented in several states.
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation now wants the media to assess whether this means anti-gay prejudice is diminishing in America.
GLAAD President Neil Giuliano, said: “Two items that standout are first, that anti-gay prejudice is losing its power as a political tool, and second, that those who exploit it are losing their influence. We hope media will fully investigate these issues as they are worthy of examination.”
In addition to the expected defeat of Arizona’s anti-gay marriage amendment, the LGBT community and civil rights movement celebrated the diminishing traction of anti-gay ballot initiatives.
In 2004, the vast majority of such anti-gay laws passed with more than 70% of the vote. In 2006, more than half of those that passed garnered support of percentages in the 50’s.
GLAAD is encouraging media to report on the success of LGBT candidates across America.
The Gay Lesbian Victory Fund reported today that 67 of its endorsed LGBT candidates – a record – were elected to federal, state and local office, including the first openly gay people ever elected to public office in Alabama, Arkansas and Indiana.
Additionally, the defeats of extreme anti-gay officials like Senator Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania, Kenneth Blackwell in Ohio, and John Hostettler in Indiana point to voter rejection of strategies targeting gay and lesbian families for political gain.
GLAAD also urged reporters to examine the diminishing returns of anti-gay ballot initiatives in the context of recent public opinion polls on relationship recognition for lesbian and gay families.
An Oct 27-31 2006 New York Times/CBS News poll found that 55% of respondents favoured either full marriage equality or civil unions for gay couples. And a November 5-6 2006 Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll found that 60% favoured legal recognition for same-sex couples – 30% favouring marriage and 30% favouring “a legal partnership similar to but not called marriage.” Only 32% of likely voters believed that same-sex couples should have no legal recognition.
Mr Giuliano argues that public support for legal recognition and protection of same-sex couples and their families is the direct result of the public dialogue about marriage.
“Because of the discussion about marriage, more lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are living openly and honestly. They’re talking to people about their lives and sharing their stories in the media. And as a result they are helping to strengthen the kind of understanding that leads to acceptance and respect.”