Latest poll shows seismic shift in American attitudes toward LGBT communityAround the Nation, Online Only, Top Highlights Friday, August 15th, 2014
A poll released by the Marist Institute for Public Opinion in New York shows that Americans are supporting LGBT civil rights in record numbers. More extraordinary still, the change in attitudes from as recently as 1999 when a majority of Americans stood firmly against same-sex marriage or admitted to knowing someone who is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. The sea change in attitudes is being propelled by two major forces, the poll found. First, people aged 18-29 overwhelmingly favor same-sex marriage. Second, the ranks of Americans who say they know someone who’s gay has skyrocketed over the last decade and a half. And those who know someone who’s gay are almost twice as likely to support same-sex marriage, the survey found.
According to the poll:
Adults now support same-sex marriage by 54-38 percent. For more than a decade, only about a third of Americans supported the idea, ranging from 27 percent in 1996, as measured by the Pew Research Center, to 35 percent in 2009. Support has increased steadily since then, however. In 2011, a plurality supported same-sex marriage for the first time. And in 2013, a majority of adults said for the first time that they favored it.
The most glaring sign of changing attitudes is generational:
– Those aged 18-29 favor same-sex marriage by 75-18 percent.
– Those aged 30-44 favor it 55-38 percent.
– Those aged 45-59 favor it 49-40.
– Those aged 60 and older oppose it 50-39.
Familiarity also is changing the way people think. By 71-27 percent, American adults say they know someone who’s gay. That’s a dramatic change from a generation ago, when a 1999 Pew poll found that Americans said by 60-39 percent that they didn’t know anyone who was gay. In the McClatchy-Marist Poll, 52 percent said they knew more gay people now than they did a decade ago.
Nearly half – 48 percent – said they wouldn’t be upset if one of their children told them they were gay, and 14 percent said they wouldn’t be very upset. Thirty-five percent said they’d be somewhat upset or very upset. It was the opposite three decades ago. Sixty-four percent said they’d be very upset and 25 percent somewhat upset if one of their children told them they were gay, according to a Los Angeles Times survey in 1985. Five percent said they wouldn’t be very upset, and just 4 percent said they wouldn’t be upset at all.
Not surprisingly, Republicans, people who identify themselves as members of the Tea Party and adults over 60 all remain resilient to change. Republicans oppose same-sex marriage by better than 2-1. Tea party supporters oppose it by nearly 3-1. Those 60 and older are on the cusp, with 50 percent opposed.
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