Reversal: Acceptance of Gays Declines
PlanetOut.com Network, July 29, 2003
By David Ryan Alexander
SUMMARY: A new USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll released on Monday showed a
dramatic decline in acceptance of homosexuality.
A new USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll released on Monday showed a dramatic
decline in acceptance of homosexuality and the rights of same-sex couples to
form civil unions and receive similar legal rights as married couples.
In the study, based on telephone interviews with 1,006 adults nationwide
between July 25 and July 27, 48 percent of participants stated that
homosexuality should be legal, with 46 percent stating it should not.
The last time the response was so low toward acceptance of homosexuality
was in 1996, USA Today reported.
When asked the same question last May, 60 percent had approved of
homosexuality being legal, the highest level on record for the survey. In that
study, only 35 percent of respondents felt homosexuality should not be legal.
When asked about gay marriage, 40 percent responded that they favored
allowing same-sex couples to marry and receive some of the same legal rights
as married couples, while 57 percent opposed the idea. The numbers were again
down from their peak in early May, when 49 percent were in favor and 49
In contrast to this study, another USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll released June
30 showed growing support for equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. That
survey, taken days after the Supreme Court’s landmark Lawrence
vs. Texas ruling, stated that 39 percent of respondents felt married
gay couples should receive all the same benefits as straight marriages, up
from 27 percent in 1996.
Some feel that the decline in acceptance is a backlash against recent legal
victories, such as the Lawrence ruling and the legalization of gay marriage in
Canada, and increased television exposure of the gay community from
longer-running programs such Showtime’s “Queer as Folk” to more recent
shows such as “Boy Meets Boy” on Bravo.
“You could argue that our success is moving us forward rapidly, and it
may take the American public some time to catch up, but they’ll get
there,” said Mark Mead, director of public affairs for the Log Cabin
Mead told the Gay.com/PlanetOut.com Network that the recent poll was simply
“a snapshot, it’s not a moving picture,” and to take one poll as the
poll for the nation was simply inaccurate.
Mark Shields, a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, agreed with Mead,
and said that the overall trend for the past seven years had been very
“Support is growing, acceptance, tolerance and diversity is all
growing,” he said. “One bad poll doesn’t make a backlash.”
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