LGBT has potential to make a difference in Ohio vote

Madeleine Winer

In swing states like Ohio, President Barack Obama’s decision in May to support gay marriage has the possibility to pull him ahead of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney despite the economy historically being the No. 1 issue with voters.

Brandon Stephens, vice president of both PRIDE! and the KSU College Democrats, said since the president has come out in support of equal rights, he thinks Obama will get a boost from the LGBTQ community.

“I think people know by now one party doesn’t support [marriage equality] and the other does,” Stephens said. “As much as I would like for social issues, especially marriage equality, to have a major impact on the election, it’s just not true. History has proven that voters vote solely on the economy. Social issues play a factor, but the economy and jobs are always number one.”

According to an Oct. 18 Gallup poll, 3.4 percent of Americans identified themselves as LGBT. A Harris Interactive poll conducted Oct. 23-28 revealed 72 percent of that population supports Obama.

Despite economic issues prevailing, Stephens said the LGBTQ community needs to take a look at the issues and decide what is most important to them. Morgan Blackwood, a transgender student, said she doesn’t understand why members of the LGBT community would vote against their own self-interest.

“I don’t know how you could vote for Mitt Romney with all the things he said about our community,” Blackwood said. “It’s disgusting. I understand Obama is not the greatest choice, but you have to vote in your own interest.”

Although the LGBT population’s vote could be significant in this local as opposed to national elections, she said, its significance will increase in future elections.

Jake Green, sophomore public relations major, said in a race as tight as Ohio, members of the LGBTQ community need to make their voices heard. Because it has a candidate who is fully supportive of equal rights, he said, the community should feel a vested interest in this election to vote.

“All of the polling I’ve seen puts the candidates with such a close margin of error,” Green said. “The smallest percentage of population could make a big difference especially when the LGBT population is so deeply invested by who is to be elected.”

Obama is currently two points ahead in Ohio, according to a Columbus Dispatch poll.

Mark Cassell, political science professor, said when issues are ranked, economic and political issues are more “salient” than marriage equality and LGBT issues. However, he said the margin of error is so small in Ohio that any constituency could make a difference and have an influence on the election.

“There’s no grey area,” Cassell said about the LGBT vote. “If you are for marriage equality, you are going to vote for Barack Obama. If you strictly oppose it, you’re going to vote for Mitt Romney.”

Contact Madeleine Winer at [email protected].