OBAMA COULD LOSE GAY, LESBIAN SUPPORT: Many members of the gay and lesbian community greeted President Barack Obama in New York City on Thursday with demonstrations and protests, showing the growing frustration among a demographic that supported him with their votes and money during the 2008 election cycle.
Obama attended a fund-raising event hosted by gay and lesbian supporters on the same day that the legislature in Albany considered a bill on gay marriage. Some gays and lesbians have criticized the White House’s handling of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal and the president’s position on gay marriage, which he says is still “evolving.”
A lack of attention to equal rights issues and a Republican field more supportive of gay issues could cost Obama during the 2012 election cycle, Christian Berle, deputy executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, a conservative organization that advocates in favor of LGBT issues, told OpenSecrets Blog.
The organization’s political action committee donated close to $20,000 to candidates running for federal office during the 2010 cycle.
Berle said smaller-dollar gay and lesbian donors, many of whom probably contributed to a campaign for the first time during the 2008 election cycle, are disappointed with Obama’s performance. They could be looking to the GOP presidential candidate this time, he added.
Republicans do face significant obstacles in winning the support of gays, however, particularly given the prevalence of GOP politicians who do not support gay marriage or opposed gays serving openly in the military.
Moreover, Obama received nearly $140,000 from organizations associated with gay and lesbian issues — significantly more than rival John McCain did during the 2008 election cycle, the Center for Responsive Politics’ research indicates. That figure does not include the individual gay and lesbian donors who contributed to his campaign.
“There were a lot of opportunities for the president to deliver,” Berle said. “The important people are those small dollar donors that helped deliver for the president who are looking at other options.”
Berle said GOP hopefuls such as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) have all taken pro-equal rights stances in the past and could gain the support of those donors.
Some gays are small business owners, who are also disappointed with Obama’s handling of the economy. During the 2010 cycle, 31 percent of gays voted for House Republicans compared to the 18 percent in 2008, Berle said, citing internal statistics.
“That’s a market shift,” he said. “The Republican Party wants every vote. And there are a number of positions that Republican candidates have taken worthy of consideration from the LGBT community.”