Luntz Poll: Gays Overwhelmingly Support Repeal of Death Tax

82% Back Repeal While 72% of Gays Call Death Tax "Discriminatory"; Large Majority of Gay and Lesbian Gore Voters Would Back Pro-Repeal Candidates

May 16, 2001 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Blogger Tumblr

(WASHINGTON, DC) – As major tax reform legislation moves to the Senate floor, a new poll indicates overwhelming support by gay and lesbian Americans for repeal of the federal estate tax, known as the death tax.

The poll, commissioned by the Center for the Study of Taxation and conducted by GOP pollster Frank Luntz, found that 72% of gay and lesbian Americans believe the federal death tax is "discriminatory" and fully 82% of the respondents support a law which would repeal it.

"The message to both Democrats and Republicans in Congress came through loud and clear in this poll – gay and lesbian Americans want the death tax repealed," said Kevin Ivers, director of public affairs for Log Cabin Republicans. "This survey went to great lengths to represent both points of view on this issue, but the response was unwavering and crystal clear."

"Gay Americans understand that this is not about the David Geffens of the world, but it's about average gay and lesbian families that deserve fairness," Ivers said.

The Luntz data follows on the heels of a major national poll of gay and lesbian opinions commissioned by the Gill Foundation in February 2001, which found that 60% of gay Americans rate tax policy as "important to them personally," and ranked "taxes" ahead of "civil rights" and equal with "same sex civil unions" in order of importance to them. [For Gill Foundation poll go to ]

Anti-Repeal Arguments Rejected by Gays

The Luntz poll also presented two arguments at the core of the largely Democratic opposition to death tax repeal, and gay and lesbian respondents soundly rejected them, including the argument that the tax should not be reduced because it "only affects the wealthiest Americans":

"The Estate Tax is progressive, and it only affects the wealthiest Americans. Right now, inheritances of less than $675,000 are not taxed. Since only the richest two or three percent of Americans have estates that high, the death tax should not be reduced."

37% Agree

"People do not work for inherited income, so inheritances should be taxed at a higher rate since it is not earned income."

26% Agree

Gay and Lesbian Gore Voters Back Pro-Repeal Candidates

The Luntz poll also tested gay and lesbian support for the central arguments of both sides of the issue in the form of which candidates they are more likely to support, and the more dramatic results were found in the 80% of the respondents who said they voted for Al Gore for President in 2000:

(Among Gore Voters – 80% of gay and lesbian respondents surveyed)
Candidate Smith 61%
Candidate Jones 30%
Don't Know 9%

Senate Action Imminent

Log Cabin Republicans is the only national gay and lesbian organization to endorse death tax repeal and to make it a top legislative priority. Repeal has the strong support of President George W. Bush and the GOP leadership in Congress.

Repeal of the death tax passed in the House of Representatives on April 4 by a vote of 274-154. While 215 Republicans voted for repeal and were joined by 58 Democrats and one independent, another 150 Democrats voted with 3 Republicans and one independent to keep the tax in place

The Senate Finance Committee voted out a tax bill on May 15 that included death tax repeal, and faces a likely final vote on the floor of the Senate before the Memorial Day recess late next week.

"It's time for every Member of Congress to hear the voices of gay and lesbian Americans," Ivers said. "This is a top issue of importance to our community, and we strongly back repeal."

Luntz Poll Methodology: Using a nationwide list of likely gays and lesbians, 600 adults who self-identified as gays and lesbians were surveyed by telephone from April 7-11, 2001. The margin of error for this survey is +/- 4%.