February 18, 2004
Overwhelming Majority of GBLT Community Say They Are Certain to Vote in 2004
Political Candidates Should Heed This Constituency, Says HRC President
WASHINGTON - A majority of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender adults consider winning their equal rights one of the most important issues in the upcoming elections, and about three-quarters of GLBT adults are "absolutely certain" to vote in the presidential elections in November, according to a poll released today by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.
The poll, conducted online by Harris Interactive® for the HRC Foundation, found that 56 percent of respondents ranked "equal rights for gay and lesbian Americans" as one of the top three issues in the 2004 elections.
The poll also found that an overwhelming majority of GLBT adults - 87 percent - said they are registered voters. Large majorities also reported that they voted in the 2000 and 2002 elections (81 percent and 74 percent, respectively.)
"This research confirms that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans are highly engaged in the political process," said Cheryl Jacques, HRC president. "With marriage for same-sex couples very much on America's collective mind, we hope that the presidential candidates, and political candidates across the country, will think about this constituency as they formulate their positions on this and other pressing issues."
Among the other top issues for GLBT adults are the economy (51 percent) and employment/jobs and health care (both 37 percent), according to the survey.
The poll revealed that GLBT adults are somewhat confused about the difference between legal marriage and civil unions. A total of 51 percent of respondents said they think civil unions are the same as marriage, and nearly a quarter (21 percent) said they believe same-sex couples can already get married in some state in America.
"This is emphatically not true, and is troubling information," said Kim I. Mills, HRC's education director. "We need to do a better job of getting the word out that only marriage - not civil unions or legal documents - can confer more than 1,000 federal benefits, such as Social Security survivor benefits, equitable inheritance taxes, the right to roll over your partner's 401(k) and so much more."
Mills attributed some of this confusion to inaccurate information being spread by anti-gay conservatives, some of which is then reported by the news media.
A substantial majority of respondents (68%) felt it was "extremely important" for gay and lesbian couples to be able to marry. And when the difference between marriage and civil unions was explained to them, the number of respondents who felt this way jumped to 83 percent.
A total of 88 percent of Democratic respondents termed marriage "extremely important" after receiving more information, compared to 58 percent of Republicans and 80 percent of independents.
In addition, GLBT adults tend to consider themselves as Democrats with moderate to liberal philosophies, according to the poll. Some 62 percent of respondents gave their party affiliation as Democratic.
The poll, of 748 adults who self-identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, was conducted online by Harris Interactive between Dec. 8 and 15, 2003.
Among other key findings:
ﾴMore than half of GLBT adults (54 percent) are in a relationship with a life partner.
ﾴThe majority of GLBT adults (63 percent) do not have a will because they have not devoted the time to preparing one.
ﾴJust over half (53 percent) do not have a document empowering their partner to make medical decisions on their behalf.
ﾴWhen thinking specifically about issues that are personally important - as well as for the GLBT community as a whole, GLBT adults also identified workplace anti-discrimination laws and laws that protect against gay bias crimes as key.
For a full copy of the poll, download the .pdf file.
Harris Interactive (www.harrisinteractive.com) is a worldwide market research and consulting firm best known for The Harris Poll®, and for pioneering the Internet method to conduct scientifically accurate market research. Headquartered in Rochester, New York, U.S.A., Harris Interactive combines proprietary methodologies and technology with expertise in predictive, custom and strategic research. The company conducts international research through wholly owned subsidiaries-London-based HI Europe (www.hieurope.com) and Tokyo-based Harris Interactive Japan-as well as through the Harris Interactive Global Network of local market- and opinion-research firms, and various U.S. offices. EOE M/F/D/V