Marriage bans disadvantage gay voters and candidates

Timothy Kincaid

April 27th, 2015

A compelling argument for equality focused on an erea that I hadn’t noticed: (NY Daily News)

Under federal law, it’s illegal to make a political contribution in the name of someone else or using someone else’s money. This anti-corruption law is specifically designed to preempt individuals who seek to dishonestly circumvent contribution maximums by making a donation under another name.

Married couples are the exception to this rule. Most states — including all four states with marriage bans before the Supreme Court — extend to a husband and wife their own contribution limits, even if only one spouse brings income into the marriage. But committed same-sex couples living in states where their marriage is not recognized do not enjoy the same spousal exemption.

It’s even more unbalanced when a gay candidate runs for office. Her spouse is limited to contributions, just as if she were a stranger, while her opponent can use his wife’s funds as if they were his own.

When marriage equality heads to the Supreme Court, we’ll hear arguments loudly advocating for the supposed states’ rights to settle the marriage debate outside of the courtroom.

This approach places faith in our political system without realizing that the existing same-sex marriage bans hampers the democratic process. In the absence of equal spousal exemptions to campaign finance laws, gay and lesbian men and women are less able to participate politically as donors and as candidates. And as a result, an already marginalized group is further disenfranchised.


April 27th, 2015

Thanks for mentioning this, Timothy.

Of course, the biggest political imbalance is the fact that donations to pro-LGBT activist groups are not tax deductible as charitable donations, unlike donations to anti-gay churches, who by the way get the right to demand tax money even though they don’t pay taxes, including the right to discriminate against whichever taxpayers they wish.

Add to that the fact that urban ridings, where gay are concentrated, have much fewer elected representatives per capita than rural ridings, which are more anti-gay.

Timothy Kincaid

April 27th, 2015

Actually, FYoung, donations to pro-LGBT groups, 501(c)(3) groups, are deductible as charitable donations.

Most pro-LGBT groups have two entities, one which lobbies on legislation and supports candidates, and one which does not do bill-related lobbying but does “educational” work, i.e. issues related public efforts.

For example, Human Rights Campaign donations are not deductible. HRC Foundation donations are.

Neither churches nor education-related pro-LGBT groups are supposed to lobby on a specific candidate or bill.

Timothy Kincaid

April 27th, 2015

And, in the US, the House of Representatives is based on population. A few tiny states are slightly more represented as there is a minimum of one Representative, but otherwise it’s proportional.

Senators, on the other hand, are disproportionate: two per state irrespective of population.

Interestingly, the Senate is much more inclined to be supportive of LGBT than the House. And that probably has to do with the cluster of tiny New England states each with two senators.


April 28th, 2015


That’s also likely due to the fact that House districts have elections every two years as opposed to every six in the Senate.


April 28th, 2015


“Neither churches nor education-related pro-LGBT groups are supposed to lobby on a specific candidate or bill.”

Yes, but we know that due to budget cuts and intimidation by the right wing, the IRS does nothing against churches who actively engage in politicking.


April 28th, 2015

This is a very interesting point. Just one more way married couples have an advantage.

What an exciting day this will be!

Timothy Kincaid

April 28th, 2015


Yeah. It’s also a very tricky political move to be seen as “attacking churches”. So a lot of them (both conservative and liberal) walk pretty close to the edge.


May 1st, 2015

Timothy, while it may be true that population distributions for representatives are supposed to be more-or-less even, this is not true even within a state. My own state votes fairly highly for Democrats, but we still send a larger proportion of Republicans going to Congress and the Legislature. They have managed to cut districts in such a way to give advantages. Part of the problem FYoung pointed out is how districts are cut – in some ways to reduce the power of the party in power, but also to concentrate people of the opposing party in as few districts as possible, which can create the appearance, if not the reality, of “urban ridings, where gay are concentrated, have much fewer elected representatives per capita than rural ridings, which are more anti-gay.”

Timothy Kincaid

May 1st, 2015

Yes, Nathaniel, gerrymandering is a problem. Both parties do it and it can lead to bizarre “representation”. It’s one of the many problems we have with our power structure.

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