Gays and Lesbians in the Democratic Process: Public Policy, Public Opinion, and Political Representation

Gays and Lesbians in the Democratic Process: Public Policy, Public Opinion, and Political Representation

Gays and Lesbians in the Democratic Process: Public Policy, Public Opinion, and Political Representation

Gays and Lesbians in the Democratic Process: Public Policy, Public Opinion, and Political Representation

Synopsis

From "Don't ask, don't tell" to the Defense of Marriage Act, from the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to the continued battle against AIDS, gays and lesbians have been in the spotlight during the Clinton administration. They now form a political interest group as well as a social community, and political scientists, legal scholars, and the media have started speculating on the impact of this newfound prominence.

Gays and Lesbians in the Democratic Process puts theory to the test by compiling the current research of political scientists working in an empirical tradition. The articles in this volume extend and expand on a growing body of research on the movement for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered equality in the political world, with a focus on the areas of public policy, public opinion, and political representation. Contributors tackle such questions as: What factors determine the adoption and effectiveness of nondiscrimination policies based on sexual orientation? How do variables of education, religion, and urban location influence public attitudes toward lesbians and gays? How has the emergence of the Christian Right paradoxically helped to consolidate the gay and lesbian movement? How are opportunities for political participation used to advance or curtail lesbian and gay rights? How will voters evaluate openly gay and lesbian candidates for public office?

This book will be a valuable resource for students and scholars of American politics and gay and lesbian studies as well as for community activists.

Excerpt

Ellen D. B. Riggle and Barry L. Tadlock

During the 1998 general election six openly gay and lesbian candidates ran for election to the U.S. House of Representatives; three won: incumbents Barney Frank (D-MA), Jim Kolbe (R-AZ), and newcomer Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). Scores of other openly gay men and women ran and won at the state and local levels, including Vermont state auditor Ed Flanagan (D), Karen Clark (D), reelected to the Minnesota State House, and San Diego superior court judge Bonnie Dumanis (R). There are now over two hundred openly lesbian or gay public officials in the United States. Also in the 1998 general election, voters in Hawaii and Alaska made it possible for their legislatures to ban the recognition of samegender marriages, joining numerous other states that have already recently passed such bans or are debating such legislation. At the same time, court cases are pending in Hawaii and Vermont in an effort to secure the right to samegender marriage. The military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is the subject of federal litigation. State sodomy laws are the subject of ongoing state litigation and legislative battles. Local governments are debating and voting on ordinances to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. And pollsters are finding that more and more Americans support the right of equal opportunity for lesbians and gays. In short, the debate over issues involving the political rights of gay and lesbian citizens in the United States continues daily and in earnest.

Gays and lesbians (and, in recent times, many would add bisexuals and transgendered persons) have transitioned from outsiders to insiders in the political process, from the liberationists of the sixties and seventies to the lobbyists of the . . .

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