A new survey of likely American voters suggests Senator Hillary Clinton will have the overwhelming support of lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGBs) Americans in the upcoming Democratic primaries.

Sixty-three percent of those who participated in the Hunter College poll said they planned to cast their votes for the former first lady, while Senator Barack Obama and John Edwards received 22 percent and 7 percent of the vote, respectively.

Considered the first public, political survey ever conducted by a university-based team of scholars with a nationally representative sample of lesbian, gay and bisexual voters, the survey also found that during the process of coming out, LGBs become more liberal and more engaged in the political process than the general population.

“We found a stunning transformation in political views in the LGB community of a magnitude that is virtually unparalleled among social groupings in the U.S. population,” political science professor Kenneth Sherrill of Hunter College, one of the study’s investigators, said in a release.

Other key findings of the survey include:

· Nine in 10 LGB likely voters will vote in the Democratic primaries and 21 percent say that lesbian and gay rights will be the most important issue influencing their vote in 2008.

· 72 percent of LGB likely voters consider Senator Clinton a supporter of gay rights, with Senator Obama at 52 percent and former Senator Edwards at 41 percent. On the Republican side, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was at 37 percent, followed by Senator John McCain at 13 percent.

“These findings suggest opportunities,” said Murray Edelman, a scholar at Rutgers University’s Eagleton Institute and one of the study’s investigators.

“Senator Clinton benefits from a high turnout in this very Democratic bloc; her opponents would benefit from making their stated support for gay rights more visible to LGB voters.”

· 33 percent of all respondents say they are ‘very interested’ in politics compared to 22 percent of the general population sample. Thirty-six percent said they became more interested in politics during their coming out period.

· LGBs were more likely than the general population to have contacted a government official in the past 12 months (23 percent to 16 percent).

“These levels of civic engagement indicate that gay people can have a bigger influence on public policy than suggested by their relatively small share of the population,” said Patrick J. Egan, an assistant professor at New York University and another of the study’s investigators.

· Asked which gay rights goals are ‘extremely important,’ 59 percent of LGBs responded ‘enacting employment non-discrimination laws’ and ‘protections from bias crimes,’ while 58 percent answered ‘securing spousal benefits’ and 53 percent chose ‘AIDS funding.’

Fifty percent said ‘legalising same-sex marriage’ and 36 percent replied ‘rights of transgendered people’ and ‘ending the military’s ban on being openly gay.’

“The top priorities for LGBs bear little resemblance to the debates that have dominated the headlines,” said Egan.

· When asked about the proposed federal law making it illegal to discriminate against lesbians, gays, and bisexuals in employment, LGBs (by a margin of 60 to 37 percent) said that those seeking to pass the law were wrong to remove protections for transgendered people in order to get the votes necessary for passage in Congress.

Chrys Hudson © 2007 GayWired.com; All Rights Reserved.