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Silence is Golden on Gay Issues

Two presidential election cycles ago, talking about gays was all the rage. Anti-marriage-equality measures littered state ballots across the country. There was even talk that they brought social conservatives out in numbers that gave President George W. Bush an edge in 2004 over Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic nominee. In separate studies, Kenneth Sherrill of New York University and Gregory B. Lewis of Georgia State University, put that myth to rest. Still, for better or worse, the lives of gay men, lesbians and their families were part of the national conversation.

This year, not so much. And that’s a good thing. No, it’s a great thing.

Sure, there are plenty of issues facing lesbians, gay men and bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans that ought to be discussed. But after years of gays being used in bigoted ways as wedges in American politics by Democrats and Republicans, the silence is a blessed relief.

There have been three debates featuring President Obama, Mitt Romney and their respective running mates without so much as an allusion to the LGBT community. There are two reasons for this. First, the president took the issue (and the drama that went with it) off the table when he declared his personal support for marriage equality in May. Second, the American people, particularly deep-pocketed and well-connected Republicans, believe that same-sex couples should have the right to marry the person they love.

“What we’re seeing is proof positive that gay issues aren’t the wedge they used to be and furthermore, the public has moved on,” said Fred Sainz of the Human Rights Campaign. “When the president announced his personal support for marriage equality, there wasn’t an iota of a dip in the polls as many on the right had predicted.”

READ MORE on the Washington Post