Out of the Closet and Into the Polling Booth

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There are more queers in the heartland than there were five years ago, according to a new analysis of 2005 Census data released [PDF] by the Williams Institute, a think tank focused on sexual orientation. Nationwide, the number of out same-sex couples increased by 30 percent in five years—five times the 6 percent growth rate of the general population. The Midwest saw the largest gains.

The study suggests that far from driving gays and lesbians into the closet or into Straight to Jesus programs, anti-gay ballot measures may be helping bring gays and lesbians out of the closet. States that were among the first to forbid same-sex marriage have seen greater than average growth in the number of same-sex couples living together and announcing it on government forms. The surge may surprise supporters of the anti-gay measures on the ballot in eight states: In six of those states, the number of same-sex couples has increased by 30 percent or more since the 2000 Census.

The larger numbers of gay and lesbian voters may affect more than just gay issues in November. As it turns out, of the 10 states that have seen the number of same-sex couples increase by half or more, eight figure among the key congressional races in the upcoming election.

Pollsters have hardly been in hot pursuit of how gays and lesbians will vote.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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