University of Utah Communications Professor Kevin Coe wanted to know what impact a shout out from a president might have on a minority group like the LGBT community.
“Those public moments of recognition that presidents can offer do mean something to the group in question and not just to the group in question but they have a symbolic value where other people who hear them start to think about that group as a more central part of the fabric of the nation,” Coe said.
Whether a minority group gets that recognition from the president heavily depends on which political party is in the White House.
“The impulse would be to think ‘well this has been a steady trajectory as far as increasing public acceptance of this group’ so maybe we would expect the president would also be somewhat steady in increasing their discussion of this group as they become a broader part of the national conversation maybe they would become a broader part of the presidential conversation as well but in fact what we find is that political party is a much stronger explanatory factor than just the passage of time,” Coe said.
When it comes to the LGBT community, Coe says it is possible that presidents from both parties will soon be discussing the group more.
“I think party differences will probably remain to some extent but they should eventually shrink to a point where they are less noticeable on this particular issue,” Coe said. “I think as we have seen the growing public acceptance of the LGBT community ultimately as that acceptance spreads through constituents who would be voting republican, you’ll get a stronger incentive for republican leaders to begin talking about the group in supportive terms.”
Coe’s claims are supported by the finding of a 2016 Pew Research Center survey that discovered sixty-three percent of Americans say that homosexuality should be accepted by society.