Political distinctiveness and diversity among LGBT Americans


At least partly due to data limitations, academic analyses of public opinion rarely acknowledge lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) identities. Our models of political attitudes almost always overlook respondents’ sexual orientation and gender identities, and targeted research on the views of LGBT people is uncommon. This omission has obscured both the distinctiveness of LGBT Americans and the diversity within the group. Using recent large-N surveys, this article shows that LGBT Americans are distinctively liberal compared to otherwise similar straight and cisgender respondents — in their general political predispositions, electoral choices, and attitudes on a wide range of policy matters. At the same time, there is substantial diversity within the community — bisexual and transgender respondents are frequently less liberal than lesbians and gay men. Analysis of intersecting identities reveals substantial differences between bisexual men and bisexual women, but little evidence of diversity based on gender within lesbian/gay and transgender subgroups. Given these findings, public opinion scholars should routinely incorporate measures of LGBT identities in their analyses, alongside race, gender, class, and other politically-salient respondent characteristics.

Public Opinion Quarterly
Phil Jones
Phil Jones
Associate Professor of Political Science