I know it is cliché to say that this presidential contest is the most important election of our lifetime, but if you are a gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, it truly does hold monumental importance. Here are ten reasons why it is critical that Obama wins and what his victory would mean for America and the LGBT community.
1) A Winning Issue: Obama made a big gamble when he endorsed marriage equality. It is of vital importance to prove that a politician can still win national office and that the issue is an asset rather than a liability.
2) The Floodgates: We have already seen how Obama’s bold stance has encouraged others, such as Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), Colin Powell, and the NAACP, to support same-sex-marriage. A win for Obama would open the floodgates of support for politicians sitting on the fence. Winning reelection might even lead the few remaining progressive Republicans to reconsider their stance.
3) The Court: A victory for Obama will help ensure that if gay marriage reaches the Supreme Court it will lead to a favorable outcome. New York Times columnist Bill Keller sums it up: “Next January gays could face the prospect of President Romney. Mitt Romney not only opposes gay marriage and civil unions; he is committed to filling any Supreme Court vacancies with Scalias.”
4) Poll Numbers: A May Washington Post/ABC News poll showed that 53 percent of Americans thought that gay marriage should be legal. With Obama in the Oval Office, presumably using his bully pulpit to promote equality, the poll numbers will only rise. With four more years of positive messages coming from the White House, it is not inconceivable that support for marriage equality might cross the sixty percent threshold. When this happens it’s “game over.”
5) Demoralizing Foes: Obama’s evolution has the fundies frothing at the mouth – or maybe they are just salivating because they believe the president has handed them a potent campaign issue to wield like a spiked club in swing states. Our foes are going to throw everything they have at the President and it promises to get ugly. However, if they lose they will be demoralized and the wiser among them will see the writing on the wall.
6) Christianity Declining: Yes, there are many wonderful Christians, including the President, who favor marriage equality. However, it is quite obvious that the more Christian a state is, the less likely it is to support gay marriage (or gay anything). But Christianity in the US may be on the decline. The Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies (ASARB) released a study that showed less than 50 percent of the nation’s population identified as Christian adherents. In four years the number will further decrease, potentially boosting support for marriage equality.
7) Future Voters: According to Gallup’s latest poll, support for marriage equality among voters between the ages of 18 and 34 is at 66 percent — 19 points higher than in the 35 to 54 age group. If Obama wins, it buys four more years for younger voters to come of voting age and for older anti-gay voters to lose their grip on the electorate.
8) Urbanization: When it comes to gay rights, city lights equal enlightenment with urban voters more likely to be in favor of gay marriage. A study by the Brookings Institution shows that real estate values increase as neighborhoods became more pedestrian friendly. Four more years of Obama, means almost a half-decade of Americans returning to urban environments where they will have openly gay neighbors, which will influence attitudes.
9) Entertainment: When Vice President Joe Biden expressed his support for same-sex marriage on NBC’s Meet the Press, he cited Will & Grace as a big influence on his decision. ABC’s Modern Family now is the most popular show on television and is centered on a gay couple. According to the New York Times, “No other show on television comes close to that comedy in adding 18- to 49-year-old viewers who record shows and watch them later.” Four more years of positive images in the media, coupled with a gay friendly president, will help diminish anti-gay prejudice.
10) Ethnic Demographics: Four more years of changing racial and ethnic demographics may put states such as Nevada, Arizona, and others out of play for Republicans. Unless the GOP changes its tune on LGBT rights, this shift would be a positive development.
A victory by President Barack Obama would be a watershed event that would signal the beginning of the end of second-class citizenship for LGBT people. If Mitt Romney were to emerge victorious, it would usher in four to eight more years of viciousness.
This really is a historic election.