Press Room

January 19, 2005

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Report Shows Voters Support Legislators Who Oppose Discrimination

'Voting against discrimination is good policy and good politics,' said HRC National Field Director Seth Kilbourn.

WASHINGTON - Ninety-four percent of state legislators who opposed discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in 2004 state legislatures were not hurt politically by their votes, according to a new study released today by the Human Rights Campaign and the Equality Federation.

"Voting against discrimination is good policy and good politics," said Seth Kilbourn, HRC's national field director. "Anyone trying to score political points by discriminating against same-sex couples should be put on notice. Prejudice does not win at the polls."
News reports leading up to and following the 2004 elections indicated that same-sex marriage rights may have cost legislators their seats, as many voters went to the polls on "moral values." This new study, "Standing Up For Equality: A Winning Strategy for State Legislators," demonstrates that state legislators of both parties who voted against these measures were overwhelmingly re-elected in nearly every corner of the country.

"This study is a reminder that people who support equality for all families and couples are also moral values voters," said Toni Broaddus, executive director of the Equality Federation. "As the debate about how to protect all families continues in the states, legislators would be wise to keep this lesson in mind."

Among its findings, the study concluded:

ᄡIn November 2004, 640 state legislators were up for re-election in 22 of 28 states with constitutional amendments and resolutions that dealt specifically with the right of same-sex couples to marry.

ᄡOf the 640 legislators for whom the issue of marriage could have factored into their election, 604, or 94 percent, won.

ᄡIn the races of the 36 legislators who lost, the legislator's vote against discrimination was cited as a factor in only 11 races. Only 1.7 percent of state legislators running for re-election lost their race because of their vote against banning marriage for same-sex couples.

ᄡNinety-four percent of legislators who voted against discrimination were re-elected. This re-election rate is consistent with or higher than the average rate of re-election for all state legislators, which is 90 percent for state house incumbents and 92 percent for state senate incumbents.

Download the complete report in pdf format.

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