After a string of political victories in Florida and across the country, gays and lesbians see 2012 as a political watershed. "When you step back and look at the landscape, wow. We've really come a long way," said Stephen Muffler, a Fort Lauderdale lawyer who immersed himself in this year's elections, doing everything from registering voters to passing out campaign fliers. "We're moving at a fast clip now. All in all, I'm just very, very happy." Added Rand Hoch, founder and president of the gay rights group Palm Beach County Human Rights Council: "It's been a great year for us." The year's biggest development: President Barack Obama's coming out in favor of same-sex marriage. Besides packing a symbolic punch, it had an enormous political impact, analysts say, galvanizing gays and lesbians to open their checkbooks and volunteer their time for campaigns. Gays who didn't get actively involved voted so heavily for Obama that they were a factor in his victory. Exit polls show Obama and Republican Mitt Romney tied among straight voters. But the 5 percent of voters who identified themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual favored Obama 76 percent to 22 percent.
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