Are Gay Rights No Longer A Wedge Issue?

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, right, shakes hands with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump at the start of the presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Tonight will be the third and final presidential debate. All eyes will be on Donald Trump, yet again, to see if he has any impulse control left. We’re so inured to Trump’s outrageousness that if he is even marginally lucid, he’s likely to come across far better than he should.

As for Hillary Clinton–really, does she even have to show up, other than to bait Trump?

As a reminder, sometimes debates actually touch on (gasp!) policy. And what has been particularly noticeable in this election cycle is how little reference there has been to anything LGBT. Other than a brief reference from Clinton in support of marriage equality during the second debate, the candidates have been largely silent about us.

Related: 7 Gays & Lesbians Working To Put Hillary Back Where She Belongs: In The White House

Which raises the question: are we no longer a political issue? With marriage equality settled in law and public opinion solidly in our favor, the candidates seem to be betting that nothing else rises to the level worth calling out in a debate.

That probably drives core Republicans, including Trump’s running mate Mike Pence, crazy. Much as the GOP leadership promises to repeal Obamacare, the hardliners would love nothing more than to claw back some lost ground through religious liberty laws.

Related: Mike Pence’s Seven Most Vicious Homophobic Moments (There A Lot To Choose From)

The problem is that Trump couldn’t care less. In general, he doesn’t dwell on policy in any case because he doesn’t understand it. But Trump also doesn’t seem to bear us the animosity that he does immigrants, women or–well, it’s a long list. If anything, he’s broken from the Republican line just by promising to protect the LGBTQ community (in his own weird phrasing). What he doesn’t realize is that we are also a strong part of immigrant groups, women, Muslims, and African-Americans. So when he attacks these groups, he is also attacking all of us–with the possible exception of white gay men.

Without one candidate attacking us and one defending us, there’s not a lot of reason to expect the media to focus on us at all. We’ll see if that changes tonight. But it could be that we’ve moved from being a political issue to just another voting bloc.

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