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The Path to Gay RightsHow Activism and Coming Out Changed Public Opinion$
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Jeremiah J. Garretson

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781479822133

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479822133.001.0001

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The Capture of the Democratic Party and the Clinton Victory

The Capture of the Democratic Party and the Clinton Victory

(p.96) 4 The Capture of the Democratic Party and the Clinton Victory
The Path to Gay Rights

Jeremiah J. Garretson

NYU Press

This chapter examines how the LGBTQ movement effectively moved the Democratic Party from opposition to LGBTQ rights to ardent supporters. Immediately after the development of LGBTQ urban enclaves discussed in the last chapter, liberal candidates for office began to support gay rights in order to secure votes and activist support for their campaigns. The liberal and urban wings of the party slowly embraced gay rights, but little change occurred among suburban and rural Democratic office holders until ACT-UP hit its peak years and broad media coverage of LGBTQ issues began in the early 1990s. One rural Democrat to support lesbian and gay rights in exchange for votes and campaign resources was Bill Clinton. Clinton’s 1992 campaign and the 1993 gay-in-the-military debate caused news coverage of LGBTQ issues to peak. Although most academics consider this to be when the Democratic party became supportive of gay rights, data analysis in this chapter shows that the party did not become uniformly supportive until after the mass public shifted more liberal on lesbian and gay rights in the later half of the 1990s.

Keywords:   Democratic Party, Democrats, Subconstituency politics, Bella Abzug, Human Rights Campaign, Ideal points, activism, Congress, Frank

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