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New Internet Survey Shows Gays Have 'Profound Online Presence'
Households of 20% include children

(Rochester, NY and Washington, DC) -  A new Harris Poll conducted this month by Harris Interactive, in association with Witeck - Combs Communications, shows that one quarter of gays and lesbians use the Internet and the World Wide Web more than 21 hours per week, excluding e-mail time.  For non-gay respondents, the comparable percentage of Internet users was only 18%.

This unique finding was part of a significantly larger poll about the consumer behaviors and political attitudes of gays and lesbians, as well as of other adults.  The latest Witeck-Combs / Harris Interactive research was conducted online among 7,558 adults from the Harris Interactive online panel of respondents, between April 4 and 10, in which 301 individuals (4%) identified themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual.

"These results confirm that gays, lesbians and bisexuals have a profound presence online," said Wesley Combs, President of Witeck- Combs Communications.  "This also validates the strong focus on the Internet by many companies as one of the most effective channels to the gay consumer market."

Combs noted this trend has particular value for the travel industry.  "This research enabled us to test our evidence about gay and lesbian preferences in travel, and confirmed that 6% more gays and lesbians traveled somewhere in the last month when compared with the non-gay sample." (51% gay -- 45% non-gay)

Combs also added new findings on gay households, revealing that one out of five gay or lesbian respondents stated that their household includes at least one child.

The findings suggest that gays and lesbians indeed are slightly more information hungry, with 87% reporting they "like having information available" from the multitude of online and offline advertising and news messages they receive daily (when compared with 80% of non-gay respondents).  To underscore this trend, 11% more gays and lesbians read a non-sports related magazine in the last month than compared with their non-gay counterparts (87% gay -- 76% non-gay).

On current political topics, it is unsurprising that overwhelming majorities of gays and lesbians favor actions taken by Vermont elected officials to allow civil unions between gay and lesbian couples (by 91% to 4%).  The survey also shows that among the 49% of the non-gay population who state they have friends or relatives who are gay or lesbian, a 54% to 33% majority also favors civil unions between same-sex couples.  Among all adults, opinion is almost equally divided, with 43% opposing civil unions between gays and lesbians and 41% favoring them.

Poll respondents also were asked to express their opinions on voting, particularly in reference to choosing political candidates who favor same-sex civil unions.  Thirty-six percent of all adults said that they would be less likely to vote for a candidate for their state legislature who supported civil unions between gays and lesbians.  However, 41% of all adults said that it would either have no impact or they were not sure, and 23% of all adults said they would be more likely to vote for such a candidate.  Gays and lesbians, themselves, say by 80% to 2% that they would be more likely to vote for candidates who favor same-sex civil unions.

Other key findings in this Harris Interactive / Witeck-Combs data include:

The overwhelming majority of gays and lesbians (between 90% and 100%) believe that gay and lesbian couples should have the same rights as heterosexual married couples for each of the following:

  • Survivorship rights in case one partner dies before the other
  • Employee benefits for their partners
  • Access to adoption
  • Right to visit a partner in a hospital

Majorities of the entire adult population are in favor of three of these four rights:

  • Survivorship rights: 64% favor, while 26% oppose (10% not sure)
  • Employee benefits: 52% favor, while 38% oppose (10% not sure)
  • Hospital visits: 86% favor, while 10% oppose (4% not sure)

However a 48% to 38% plurality are opposed to adoption rights by gay and lesbian couples on the same basis as heterosexual married couples.

At a time when Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore are running almost neck-and-neck for the presidency, gay and lesbian registered voters favor Gore by a massive 3-to-1 majority (75% to 24%) in a two-way race.  Among all registered voters Bush (47%) and Gore (48%) are virtually equal.

Gore leads Bush by 51% to 43% among the 49% of registered voters who say they have friends or relatives who are gay or lesbian.

These numbers do not change significantly if possible Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan is added to give voters a third choice.  In this 3-way race, gay and lesbian likely voters give Gore a 74% to 20% lead over Bush, and people with gay and lesbian friends or family members go for Gore by 49% to 41%.

Compared to the population as a whole, gays and lesbians are much less likely to be Republicans and more likely to be Independents.  Only 18% of gays and lesbians think of themselves as Republicans compared to 30% of all adults.  Thirty-eight percent of gays and lesbians consider themselves Democrats, compared to 34% of all adults.  And 41% of gays and lesbians self-identify as Independents compared to 34% of all adults.

On April 10, Harris Interactive Inc. and Witek - Combs Communications announced their partnership to develop in-depth marketing insight into the gay and lesbian consumer segment.  The research will benefit the growing number of companies and organizations that are developing advertising and marketing strategies targeted at the long-overlooked GLBT market.