This year’s election for president will be the first in history where LGBT people and the American public will be voting on the issue of marriage equality, and you get to do that state by state.

It all comes down to each party’s platform. Very few people pay much attention before the parties’ conventions, when the platform committees hammer out the various positions their candidates will run on.

This includes their presidential candidate, and candidates for U.S. Senate and Congress. They usually run as a team, but this year many Republicans running for what is called the “down ticket,” the Senate and Congressional spots, want to distance themselves from the top of the ticket — GOP presumptive presidential candidate, Donald Trump. The question is, can they?

That will be a difficult act for many LGBT people to accept, and it comes down to that item little of us pay attention to, the parties’ platforms. This will be yet another problem this year for Republicans.

Very simply, the Democrats have a pro-marriage equality and LGBT nondiscrimination platform, while the Republicans have the opposite. The Republican position is as hard as it has always been. They support traditional marriage, period. Worse yet, Republicans this week in Congress are attempting to pass legislation that is similar to religious-freedom laws passed in states like Indiana and North Carolina that clearly discriminate against the LGBT community.

Due to party platform and their own past votes, incumbent candidates in toss-up states, like Sen. Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania, are tied at the hip to Donald Trump on LGBT issues — and with an energized LGBT community in those states, and the closeness of the polls at 1 or 2 percent, the LGBT vote can be a deciding factor. A poll Wednesday found Democratic nominee Katie McGinty three points ahead of Toomey.Translation: The LGBT community and its allies should focus in a state like Pennsylvania on defeating Toomey.

In Florida, the Republican is Marco Rubio. Again, due to Orlando and the building of the LGBT community in South Florida — as well as Rubio’s past votes against equality, his party’s platform and Trump — Rubio has a problem. This week, a coalition of organizations held a sit-in at his office that was closed down by police.

Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, the only Republican senator to announce that he’s not endorsing Trump, has also announced that he supports marriage equality, and his race in a heavily blue (Democratic) state is being closely watched.

New Hampshire Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who has tried to distance herself from Trump, still has the problem of being on the line of LGBT issues. She is running against a popular Democratic female governor who strongly supports LGBT equality.

Traditionally Republican states like Georgia and North Carolina may fall into Democratic hands, due to population changes and the tenor of the race. Of all, North Carolina will determine a national trend in both the population change and force of LGBT organizing.

How bad is it that Republican incumbent senators in states like Arizona, Indiana and Ohio are now considered toss-ups?

Most toss-up races are going to be won by very small margins, and the LGBT vote, if focused by local communities, can be a major factor in those races. If that happens, like the conservative party in Great Britain, the Republicans will be forced to realize that the popular vote is on the side of equality: Either represent your constituents or find yourselves tossed aside.


Mark Segal, Philadelphia Gay News publisher, is the nation’s most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media. You can follow him on Facebook at MarkSegalPGN or Twitter at PhilaGayNews. His memoir AND THEN I DANCED is available online and at your favorite bookstore.



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