Young Voters Come Out: Partisan Gay Political Groups Are Reaching out to GLBT Students on the Nation's College Campuses

Article excerpt

Like most college students, gay men and lesbians attending Michigan State University in East Lansing have a lot on their minds: a soccer game at Walter Adams Field, a social at the student union, a math test to study for, or a term paper to write. So it's no surprise to openly gay sophomore Jon Hoadley that many gay students at MSU don't know there's a campaign underway to amend the Michigan state constitution to ban same-sex marriage. Or that Michigan's Democratic caucuses are coming up in February and the youth vote is expected to be pivotal.

"It is so easy to disconnect what we are doing here with what is going on in the rest of the world, even the rest of the city," Hoadley says.

In early November the 20-year-old Hoadley, along with other gay and lesbian student activists around the country, joined with the Washington D.C.--based National Stonewall Democrats to launch the Stonewall Student Network. Their goal: to have networked with gay voters on 100 college campuses before the general election in November 2004.

Stonewall chapters already exist at MSU; the university of Michigan, Ann Arbor; and the University of Georgia, Athens. kind those groups are working with other campus-based gay student groups as well as partisan organizations such as College Democrats and nonpartisan youth campaigns such as Rock the Vote. "We need to engage mid develop new leaders in our civil fights movement," says Stonewall executive director Dave Noble. "We need to connect students. And we need to motivate and mobilize young voters."

The nation's largest gay GOP group, the log Cabin Republicans, also hopes to mobilize gay and lesbian students for 2004 and beyond through a leadership forum and a series of campus talks. Log Cabin, like Stonewall, is working with partisan campus groups, such as the Young Republicans. "We're talking about reaching a new generation, about trying to focus them on how decisions being made in Washington, D. …