What a difference four years makes. In the 2012 election, same-sex marriage was a lightning rod issue in the election, with Mitt Romney and the Republican Party deadset against it, and Obama silent on the issue. Meanwhile, in the 2008 election, LGBT rights took a turn for the worse with Proposition 8 passing in California, which revoked same-sex marriage rights in the state. Fast forward to November, 2016.Even though Trump has said that he would appoint a supreme court justice to overturn same-sex marriage and says he supports the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), which would allow “religious freedom” statutes that would enable those who wish to discriminate against LGBT people to deny service to them based on religious “principles,” he has also said that he is the “most pro-LGBT candidate” and has been publicly waving the rainbow flag at rallies.
While this seems disingenuous at best and pandering for votes at worst, this is a significant change from previous elections, when presidential candidates (usually the Republican) would either fail to include the LGBT community or issues at all when canvassing, would refuse to meet with or take funds from LGBT groups, or would include virulently anti-LGBT campaign promises in the platform. This is the first election where both candidates are openly courting LGBT voters.
As seen in the 2000 Bush vs. Gore election, a win can be decided by razor thin margins (and the Supreme Court), and the LGBT votes will be crucial to this election.
While there is still a lot of work to be done for LGBT rights (e.g. LGBTs can still be fired for being LGBT in 29 states and trans people have to pee in fear in at least two states), the fact that LGBT rights are not being used as a wedge or as a motivator for social conservatives in this election (as was done in the past three elections) shows a significant shift in social attitudes in favor of LGBT rights.
The biggest test, though, will be what happens AFTER the election, when the LGBT votes are no longer needed.
So if you care about LGBT issues, please make sure to vote on November 8. And if you’re voting for Donald Trump, please make sure to vote on November 28.