Six days before the start of the recent Republican National Convention in Philadelphia, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) released an 11-page report that provides the most comprehensive look yet at Gov. George W. Bush's record on a number of issues important to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community.
The report examines Bush's record and statements on such issues as hate crimes legislation, employment discrimination, adoption and foster care, AIDS and other health issues, domestic partner benefits, same-sex marriage, sodomy laws, military service, affirmative action and racial justice, reproductive health care, welfare and poverty issues, and separation of church and state.
Among the report's findings:
"As journalists and delegates gather in Philadelphia for the Republican convention, the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community is wary. Will speakers denounce us as they did in 1992?" NGLTF Executive Director Elizabeth Toledo asked. "The country has changed over the past eight years. Eighty-three percent of all voters now favor equal rights in employment and seventy-five percent favor equal rights in housing. The gay, lesbian and bisexual vote is now five percent of the national electorate and can swing a close election. We encourage voters to pay close attention to what is said - and what is not said - next week in Philadelphia."
Toledo added that GLBT people have much at stake this election year. "Not only is the White House and Congress up for grabs, but also the Supreme Court," she said. "In addition, voters will decide the composition of almost all of the 50 state legislatures, which will draw new political boundaries through redistricting starting next spring. This in turn will affect the composition of the U.S. House of Representatives, state legislatures and many city councils for a decade to come."
Toledo pointed out that in the 1996 federal elections, 5 percent of voters nationally self-identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual, according to Voter News Service. (Voter News Service does not include transgender voters in its polling data.) Moreover, this electorate was independent. In 1998, for example, one out of every four GLB voters identified as independent or as a member of a third party, and one out of every three GLB voters voted Republican. "This means that the GLB voting block can swing a close election - whether it's a close congressional election or a presidential election in a hotly contested swing state," Toledo said.
Future NGLTF reports will look at presidential candidates Pat Buchanan, Vice President Al Gore and Ralph Nader and their position on GLBT issues as well as positions held by their running mates. Toledo explained that as a nonpartisan organization, NGLTF cannot endorse candidates for federal office. "But we will explain what's at stake for the GLBT community," Toledo said. "We will help publicize the candidates' positions on the key issues. And we will make certain the GLBT community is energized and mobilized for November."