ABC’s John Cochran Reports: A new report on the growth in the number of self-identified same-sex couples raises new speculation about the importance of gay power in next month’s elections.
The report from the Williams Institute at UCLA examines recently released census data , documenting a 30 percent increase in the number of same-sex couples in the United States over five years, from nearly 600,000 couples to almost 777,000 in 2005. The increase is five times the rate of growth in the U.S. population, according to the study.
According to the study, the states with the biggest increases were also states that endured recent political slugfests over gay marriage, battles the gay community lost. M.V. Lee Badgett, research director at the Williams Institute, said that instead of those losses driving "gay men, and lesbians and bisexual people back into anonymity and silence… the campaign against gay rights may have the opposite effect."
Gary Gates, the author of the study, said the rise in the known number of gay couples may have an impact on the congressional election, especially in close races . The size of the "out" gay electorate is higher than the national average in some of the most closely watched congressional races." The study strongly implies that by "outing" themselves, gay couples are more likely to become politically active.
Conventional wisdom would say that could be an advantage to Democratic candidates. But as gays have fought for equal rights, they have often made the point that they are not monolithic when its comes to their political views. Like the rest of the population, they can be conservative, liberal or somewhere in between.