Gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered Americans have been a political force steadily rising in national politics. That trend has been a benefit to the Democratic Party, because the Republican Party has been perceived as the party of anti-gay bigotry. A small number of GLBT-friendly Log Cabin Republicans exist, but the GOP gets only about 5 percent of money from GLBT political action committees and affiliated individual activists.
In 2010, the Center for Responsive Politics is reporting, that Democratic advantage became a great deal smaller. It isn’t that Republicans got a bigger portion of GLBT money. It’s that less GLBT money was donated.
This year’s donations by GLBT organizations and affiliated individuals to Democrats was less than half of what it was in 2006. That’s the first significant decline in GLBT funding for the Democrats in 20 years.
Why did this drop take place? GLBT donors didn’t switch to the Republican Party. They just walked away from the Democratic Party. So, one interpretation is that GLBT Americans have come to feel poorly represented by both Democrats and Republicans over the last four years.
It’s not difficult to see why that would be the case. GLBT organizations campaigned hard to get the Democrats strong majority control of both houses of Congress and the White House to boot. Yet, the Democrats in Congress have been apathetic about working for equality on the basis of sexual orientation. Legislation to abolish discrimination from sources such as Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act has been introduced, but the Democratic leadership in Congress has allowed these bills to languish. In the White House, Barack Obama has made an even worse impression, saying that he opposes marriage equality for same-sex couples, and sending lawyers into federal courtrooms to argue that gays and lesbians should be regarded as the equivalent of pedophiles.
Can the Democratic Party turn around the falling donations from GLBT groups? Without control of the House of Representatives, the Democrats won’t be able to pass any of the legislation that they neglected before. Democrats can make promises about what they’ll do if they gain control of the House again, but then, those promises have been heard before.