Last edited: November 09, 2003

Poll Reversal: Acceptance of Gays Declines / 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 percent opposed.

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 Republicans.

Mead told the 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 positive.

“Support is growing, acceptance, tolerance and diversity is all growing,” he said. “One bad poll doesn’t make a backlash.”

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