Last edited: November 08, 2003

Support For Gays Drops Following Supreme Court Ruling, Poll Suggests, July 29, 2003

By Paul Johnson, Newscenter, Washington Bureau Chief

Washington, D.C.—A Gallup Poll taken after the Supreme Court’s groundbreaking decision in Lawrence vs Texas appears to show American less accepting of gays.

The poll, taken for USA Today and CNN asked whether gay sex between consenting adults should be legal. 48 percent of respondents said yes while 46 percent said no. It is the lowest support for gays Gallup has found since the mid 1990’s.

In early May, support for same-sex sexual relations reached a high of 60%-35%.

The biggest drop in support, Gallup found, was among African Americans, down from 58% in May to 36% in July. Among people who attend church almost every week, support fell from 61% to 49%.

The survey also found rising opposition to civil unions that would give gay couples some of the rights of married heterosexuals. They were opposed 57%-40%, the most opposition since the question was first asked in 2000.

By 49%-46%, those polled said homosexuality should not be considered “an acceptable alternative lifestyle.” It was the first time since 1997 that more people expressed opposition than support.

The survey was taken on the heels of the Supreme Court decision and two other significant gay events: The legalization of gay marriage in two Canadian provinces, Ontario and British Columbia, and the announcement by Walmart, America’s biggest retailer that it had added sexuality to its written non-discrimination policy.

Conservative groups were quick to embrace the new numbers, calling them a significant backlash against the Supreme Court ruling. “The more that the movement demands the endorsement of the law and the culture, the more resistance there will be,” Gary Bauer, president of American Values told USA Today.

Bauer said that the numbers will make it harder for elected officials to avoid taking positions on such questions as a proposed constitutional amendment that would bar marriage of gay couples.

But, David Smith, the senior strategist for the Human Rights Campaign, America’s largest LGBT civil rights organization said not too much should be read into one poll.

“The findings are consistent with similar polls from 1999 to 2002,” Smith told “Comparing these numbers to the 2003 survey may be an aberration.”

The Gallup poll is also inconsistent with another poll it took released July 1 that showed opposition to gay marriage was softening in the US. Three weeks later, on July 26, a Pew Research poll showed similar numbers. And, a Zogby International poll released yesterday showed a majority of people in New Jersey support gay marriage.

“Clearly we are on track for full civil rights,” said Smith, “but we must continue to monitor the polls and keep them in context.”

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