Last edited: February 13, 2005

Majority of Americans Believe Homosexuality Should Not Be Illegal, Support Partner Rights: Gallup Poll, May 15, 2003

By Paul Johnson, Washington Bureau Chief

WASHINGTON, D.C.—A growing number of Americans are supportive of gays and gay issues a new Gallop poll indicates.

The survey shows that 60 percent of Americans believe homosexuality should not be illegal. That’s up from 52% last year and 43% when Gallup first began asking about it in 1977.

The polling company also found that 60 percent believe gay and lesbian couples should have the same rights as heterosexually married couples, although the poll also shows that the country is evenly split, 49 percent in favor and 49 percent against, on allowing gay and lesbian couples to legally form civil unions. This is the strongest support to date in favor of gay and lesbian relationship recognition. A similar poll by Gallup a year ago showed 46 percent of Americans favored civil unions, while 51 percent opposed.

The new poll also shows that almost 9 out of 10 Americans agree that gays should have equal rights in terms of job opportunities.

“Americans increasingly understand that gay and lesbian couples are just like most other American couples, and they have the same need for healthcare, Social Security benefits, and all the other rights and protections that most Americans take for granted,” said Human Rights Campaign Senior Strategist David M. Smith.

The results of the Gallup poll were released one day after the HRC released an examination of the latest US census that shows gay and lesbian families across America are almost identical to their heterosexual counterparts in income, homeownership and other factors, although gay and lesbian partnerships are not recognized in most states in terms of pension, and other spousal rights. (story)

“In spite of the overwhelming support for equal opportunity in the workplace, it is still legal to fire someone based on their sexuality in 36 states, said HRC Political Director Winnie Stachelberg.

“The time is long overdue for meaningful workplace protections for this country’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.”

The HRC is calling for legislation recognizing gay relationships and protecting gay workers.

Smith said that the Gallup poll shows there is “ a steady groundswell of support for gay and lesbian Americans.”

“As more and more gay men and lesbians come out and live their lives openly, and more Americans realize that gay people are their family, friends, co-workers and community members—they are better able to understand the issues facing the gay community,” said Smith.

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