President’s campaign says it will court LGBT voters ‘regardless of party affiliation,’ taps outgoing HRC Prez Joe Solmonese as co-chair
LISA KEEN | Keen News Service
The Obama campaign on Wednesday, May 23, said it will make a determined effort to turn out LGBT Americans in November “regardless of their political affiliation.”
Jamie Citron, national LGBT vote director for the Obama for America re-election campaign, made the statement during a telephone press conference with reporters.
Citron introduced outgoing Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese as co-chairman of the LGBT arm of the Obama for America campaign.
Solmonese, too, said the campaign would attempt to convince “every member” of the LGBT community and “Republicans in particular” to support the president’s re-election.
Solmonese said that HRC has and will put a “big focus” on helping members of the LGBT community “understand the distinction” between Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
While there was “some confusion” about Republican presidential nominee John McCain’s positions on gay issues in 2008, said Solmonese, Romney “has very clearly committed” to pushing for a federal constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Obama opposes such an amendment and has called for repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which bans federal recognition of same-sex marriages.
The constitutional amendment, said Solmonese, is “the ultimate deal-breaker for us.”
“It’s absolutely the last line in terms of really discriminating against this community,” said Solmonese. “So it’s incredibly important that every member of our community — including Republicans — understand that distinction.”
In 2010, between 26 percent and 29 percent of LGBT voters supported Republican candidates, according to mainstream exit polls and a Keen News Service examination of heavily gay precinct records. Looking at data going back to 1990, the lowest gay vote for Republicans came in 2008, when only 19 percent of gay voters supported McCain.
The lowest gay Republican vote prior to that came in 1990, the first year the National Election Pool exit poll sought to identify “gay, lesbian, and bisexual” voters. All voters gave only a slight edge to Democrats that year (52 to 48 percent), while gay voters issued a 78 to 22 percent preference for Democrats.
Jimmy LaSalvia, executive director of the gay conservative group GOProud, scoffed at the idea the Obama campaign could win over LGBT Republicans.
“If the left believes that President Obama has the gay vote locked up, they are sadly mistaken,” said LaSalvia in an email. “The truth is that gay people, like all other Americans, are living in the failed Obama economy.”
Citron predicted a “rollercoaster ride” for the campaign, “particularly in battleground states,” such as Florida. He said the LGBT Obama campaign would be doing numerous events at gay pride events around the country next month. There is a “San Francisco East Bay Area LGBT family and friends” event planned for June 17. To find events in your area, go to LGBT.barackobama.com/lgbt/events.
© 2012 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 25, 2012.