America Rejects the Hefley Amendment By A Wide Margin, According To Poll
WASHINGTON -- A new poll released today by HRC and conducted by the polling firm Penn, Schoen, and Berland shows that dire political consequences await the GOP if they continue down their current path of anti-gay rhetoric and discriminatory legislation against gay Americans, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
"The vast majority of Americans are appalled by the recent anti-gay crusade waged by the Right-wing. This poll shows that politicians who once thought they benefitted from attacking gays may be in for a rude awakening in November. America has drawn a line in the sand that says that job discrimination and singling out one group of Americans is morally and politically unacceptable," said HRC communications director and senior strategist David M. Smith.
The poll results show that Americans overwhelmingly oppose the Hefley amendment, which would reverse President Clinton's executive order banning discrimination against gay men and women in federal employment. 64 percent of Americans said they are against Congress overturning the executive order, compared to only 28 percent who support overturning the discrimination ban. The Hefley amendment is expected to be introduced this week to the Commerce, Justice, State Appropriations bill.
"Members of Congress who vote for the Hefley amendment are clearly out of touch with the American people. Those who choose to support this amendment are branding themselves with a big scarlet letter that screams, `I am intolerant.' Our poll shows that there are grave consequences for members of Congress who align themselves with religious political extremists," said HRC political director Winnie Stachelberg.
Among the findings in today's poll is that 75 percent of Americans believe job discrimination against gay people should be illegal. The poll also shows that there are political consequences for gay bashing with 48 percent of likely voters saying that they would be "less likely" to vote for a Congressperson who voted to overturn President Clinton's ban barring job discrimination against gays. Only 17 percent of respondents said overturning the discrimination ban would make them "more likely" to vote for their Congressperson.
The poll also asked how the recent attacks on gay Americans by the GOP affected the respondents opinion of the Republican party. 40 percent said their opinion was "less favorable." Only 18 percent said anti-gay rhetoric made their impression of the party "more favorable."
According to the poll, Americans overwhelming believe the recent anti-gay rhetoric, such as Senate Majority leader Trent Lott's comparison of gay people to kleptomaniacs is divisive. 62 percent said they believe that the recent public "discussion" on the equality of gay Americans hurts the country and fosters a climate of intolerance and hostility, while just 24 percent of say it helps the country.
"Voters are perplexed by this new obsession with gay people and are wondering when Congress will realize it is time to start focusing on real issues instead of red-meat for the Far Right" Smith.
In an effort to appease Focus On The Family's James Dobson and his political deputy Gary Bauer, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott kicked off a wave of anti-gay rhetoric when he recently said that homosexuality was a sin and likened gays to alcoholics and kleptomaniacs. His comments were followed by disparaging remarks about gay people by several public officials including Senator Don Nickles (R-Okla.), Rep. Dick Armey (R-TX.) and Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.)
These attacks intensified after fifteen religious political organizations embarked on a divisive ad campaign targeting gay Americans and their family members. This orchestrated campaign of discrimination has now spread to the House where a plethora of anti-gay legislation has been introduced.
Last night, the House narrowly passed two amendments to the VA/HUD appropriations bill that have grave implications for gay Americans. The Hilleary amendment, which passed by a vote of 231-230, would drastically cut housing funds for people with AIDS. The Riggs amendment, which passed by a vote of 214-212, would prohibit San Francisco from using VA-HUD funds to implement its city ordinance against discrimination in city contracts.