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Houston: We have a problem

One of the only groups that showed an increase in voting for the Republican Party  the 2008 election cycle was GLBTs. The 27% of the GLBT vote that went for the McCain/Palin ticket has been cited as further evidence of racism in the GLBT movement generally, and in GLBT voting patterns for Barack Obama, specifically.

Let's put this baby to rest.

According to a Gay and Lesbian Times story published 2 days after the presidential election:

Data available thus far on voting in heavily gay precincts suggest the GLBT vote for Obama was at an unprecedented high. In the last several presidential elections, the percentage of GLBT voters supporting the Democrat has hovered around 70 to 75 percent. But Tuesday’s voting was much stronger:
* In heavily gay Provincetown, Mass., 87 percent of voters supported Obama, compared to only 11 percent for McCain, and two percent for others or no votes. Massachusetts overall voted 62 percent for Obama, 36 percent for McCain.

* While 61 percent of Californians supported Obama versus 37 percent for McCain, 85 percent of heavily gay San Francisco supported Obama versus 13 percent for McCain and two percent for others.

* Fifty-five percent of voters in Pennsylvania supported Obama versus 45 percent for McCain, but in heavily gay Wards 2 and 5 of Philadelphia, 83 percent of voters supported Obama.
* In heavily gay Dupont Circle Precinct 15 in Washington, D.C., Obama won 89 percent of the vote.
* In the heavily gay precinct 1233 in Dallas, 63 percent of the vote supported Obama while 57 percent of the city did so and 55 percent of the state supported McCain.
* Chicago’s heavily gay Ward 44 went 86 percent for Obama and 13 percent for McCain.
The Times also noted:
However, voting appears to have been very close in some states that were important to his success. In Florida, where a typical distribution of the gay votes – historically (70 percent) – would have provided the Democrat with about 275,000 votes, Obama won by only 199,000 votes. And while the Sunshine State overall gave Obama 51 percent of the vote, heavily gay Miami-Dade – home of gay popular resort South Beach – gave him 58 percent.

3 weeks later, Bay Windows published it's survey of the “GLB” vote in the 2008 elections. I cannot tell if they used exit polls, precinct tallies or both. The Bay Windows survey of the 2008 election results yielded similar data to the Gay and Lesbian Times study but included one additional city to note:

In Houston, 66 percent of heavily gay precinct voters supported Obama, 33 percent McCain, and one percent others.

My point is that a charge of racism in the gay community that is based solely on the increased amount of GLBT support for the Republican ticket is misleading and unjust if one does not take into account regional factors. Heavily gay precincts in Provincetown, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., New York, Chicago, San Francisco (94% Obama!), and West Hollywood appear to all have voted in the 80-90% range for Barack Obama. It is in Southern cities like Miami, Dallas, and Houston where 1 in 3 GLB voters punched the McCain/Palin ticket. The South seems to be where huge chunks of the 27% vote for McCain/Palin comes from.

Leaving aside the incidents of overt racism that broke out in California following the passing of Proposition 8, it is important to note:  the gay communities in San Francisco and West Hollywood, specifically and, indeed, the national LGBT community seem to have been unfairly accused of racism in the sole respect of the election of Barack Obama, at least according to the poll numbers. Any accusations of racism in sole regards to the 27% national GLBT vote for McCain/Palin needs to be challenged and amended to account for regional voting tendencies. The defamation of the San Francisco and West Hollywood communities in the sole regards of what may have been punched in the privacy of the voting booth is wrong and needs to stop.

In light of these poll results, it is also clear that a regional disconnect exists in the GLBT movement; several outbreaks of regional factionalism have occured in the Blend and in other blogspots this week alone. As we move forward with our civil rights movement, the increasingly regional nature of the movement needs to be noted and dealt with.

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