- (Photo: Reuters / Jessica Rinaldi)
In an effort to find volunteers and votes for what most political analysts are saying will be a nail-biter of an election in November, the Obama campaign has been scouring gay pride events and collecting information from what seems to be an overly friendly environment – the LGBT community.
Last weekend, dozens of gay pride events were held in several major U.S. cities, creating a concentrated pool of people who tend to favor the more liberal policies of the Obama administration, including the administration's refusal to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in federal courts.
The campaign volunteers' instructions were simple and straightforward. They needed to collect as much information from attendees as possible including cell phone numbers, names and email addresses. More importantly, they were told to sign up as many volunteers as possible.
"It's like shooting fish in a barrel this year," Democratic consultant Steve Elmendorf told The New York Times. "I think this year you'll not only have people who say they will vote for him, but you will get a higher percentage of people who will actually be willing to do something for him. I think people are just tremendously grateful."
The gratitude Elmendorf and others refer to not only centers around the current administration's support of LGBT issues, but specifically the president's announcement last month supporting same-sex marriage.
Although it comes as no surprise that the homosexual community has traditionally supported Democratic candidates over Republicans by a three-to-one ratio in recent years, the Obama camp believes recent developments make this the ideal time to mobilize the LGBT community.
One example of the Obama campaign's desire to reach out to the homosexual population is the inclusion of a page on their website called "Obama Pride" that is devoted exclusively to the LGBT community, including merchandise such as t-shirts and buttons.
But the president's public stance on same-sex marriage has also taken its toll on other constituencies, including some African Americans who, like homosexuals, traditionally support Democratic candidates. Diane Rose, a lesbian from Harlem who voted for Sen. John McCain in 2008, said Obama's endorsement of same-sex marriage was important to her and her partner, but that it most likely will come with a political price tag.
"Doing this," she said in reference to openly supporting gay marriage, "especially as an African American Christian, he took a bold stand and risked losing a big constituency."
Last month, several influential black pastors that include Bishop Harry Jackson of Baltimore, Md., and the Rev. Bill Owens of Memphis, Tenn., came out against Obama's marriage stance, even going as far as saying that some black Christians will either vote against Obama in November or not vote at all.
"It could be disastrous for the president," Owens told The Christian Post last month.
However, the volunteers and campaign workers were not deterred by their task and went as far as not handing out buttons unless someone provided the required information and gave a verbal commitment that they would help with the campaign between now and November. "No button without a commitment," said one volunteer.
Although most pundits will agree Obama will receive the majority of LGBT votes, Republican Mitt Romney who will be the GOP's nominee this fall was endorsed by GOProud, a conservative group that supports gay rights.
"President Obama and his friends on the left want this election to be about divisive social issues, because the president's record on jobs and the economy is indefensible," Jimmy LaSalvia of GOProud said in a statement last week.
"At this critical juncture, we need a president with the experience and expertise to turn this economy around, someone who knows how the free markets work. Former Gov. Mitt Romney is that candidate."