As last week's election results have shown, LGBT voters were a formidable force in reelecting President Obama, electing several LGBT candidates and LGBT-friendly politicos, and passing an unprecedented three statewide ballot initiatives to establish marriage equality and rejecting one that would ban same-sex marriage.
The Advocate attempted to dig into exactly how that landslide for equality happened by using an unscientific online survey open to any of our readers who said they had voted. What we found is that the vast majority of LGBT people are politically active or aware, especially those who were able to vote on marriage equality initiatives this year (9% of Advocate exit poll respondents). Generally, voters in those four states — Maryland, Maine, Washington, and Minnesota — were the most active in donating time, or money to campaigns.
But at least a quarter of all of The Advocate's exit poll respondents from last week followed a candidate, political action committee, political party, or ballot measure campaign on social media sites. Another 23% said they had signed petitions, and 22% donated money to a campaign or group. According to the Human Rights Campaign, more than $20 million was contributed to campaigns to ensure equality across the country.
That's the kind of grassroots activism that has reshaped the issues landscape in less than a decade, with the political reality now flipped. It is no longer a liability to step out for equality. In fact, it's increasingly strange for Democrats and progressives to not support marriage equality, while even some Republicans are starting to worry that the new rules might apply to them as well.
Our exit poll leaves no doubt that LGBT citizens, by being vocal and active, have led to this tipping point. Ending "don't ask, don't tell" was a vast campaign that required lobbying, letter-writing, lawsuits, fund-raising, and legislative wrangling. This effort, along with the establishment of marriage equality in nine states plus the District of Columbia, could not have occurred without serious people power. That is why we asked readers what they were willing to do going forward to ensure that even more pro-gay laws are passed.
The three most popular tasks on to-do lists for Advocate readers were signing a petition (18%), donating time or money to an organization (14%), or educating others on the issues (14%). A combined 15% said they would join a protest or political action group, 13% would communicate directly with elected officials, 9% would volunteer, 9% would be active in social media, and 6% would help register others to vote.
Get a summary of more results from the exit poll on the following page.