Gay voters are sick and tired of being taken for granted:
If Democratic candidates are counting on long-standing support from gay voters to help stave off big losses on Nov. 2, they could be in for a surprise. Across the country, activists say gay voters are angry—at the lack of progress on issues from eliminating employment discrimination to uncertainty over serving in the military to the economy—and some are choosing to sit out this election or look for other candidates.
President Barack Obama's hometown of Chicago, with its large, politically and socially active gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, offers a snapshot of what some are calling the "enthusiasm gap" between voters who came out strong for Obama and other Democrats in 2008 and re-energized Republican base voters, including tea party enthusiasts who say they are primed to storm the polls. It didn't help that the controversy over the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy for gays erupted less than two weeks before the election, when a judge overturned it, then Obama's justice department decided to fight the judge's decision.... "It's all talk and nothing's happening, and I'm just over it," said Coatar, 62, a church business manager who said she's as concerned about health care and homelessness as about gay issues. "I don't know who to vote for and the election is a week away."
Wyatt, 35, a maintenance worker at the Center on Halsted, a community center serving Chicago's GLBT community, said politicians only court gay voters at election time. "Once they're elected, they're not fighting for things like civil unions or same-sex marriage or ending 'don't ask, don't tell' because they're hot-button issues," said Wyatt, who usually supports Democrats. "We're just used as a piggyback for them to get into office. It's absurd."
Whether or not that's the case, Wyatt isn't the only one who feels that way. And in places like Cook County, Ill., where the gay population represents about 7 percent of voters, that could mean the difference between victory and defeat in some races, said Rick Garcia, director of public policy for Equality Illinois. One of those races is a much-watched and close battle for Obama's old Senate seat between Democrat Alexi Giannoulias and Republican Mark Kirk. "If (candidates) can mobilize the gay community and get them out to vote, it could make all the difference in the world in some of these key races," said Garcia.