Gallup Polling Says Acceptance of Gays is ‘The New Normal’


Gallup put out some new data today and said "U.S. Acceptance of Gays/Lesbians is the New Normal":

The slight majority of American adults, 54%, consider gay or lesbian relations morally acceptable. Public acceptance of gay/lesbian relations as morally acceptable grew slowly but steadily from 38% in 2002 to 56% in 2011 and is now holding at the majority level.

This Gallup trend mirrors the growth in public support for legalizing gay marriage, which has risen from 42% support in 2004 to 50% or greater support in the last two years. Americans' support for gay rights on both questions leveled off in this year's Values and Beliefs poll, conducted May 3-6.

Gallup's longer-term question measuring U.S. attitudes about gays asks whether gay or lesbian relations should or should not be legal. The 63% now saying gay relations should be legal nearly matches the record-high 64% of a year ago, which came after a long-term increase in support for legality from 32% in 1986.

More at Gallup.



  1. Pete n SFO says

    Happy for the good news, but still feel that by continuing to ask, we reinforce the wrong-headed notion that their opinion matters in questions related to Civil Rights.

    As though this kind of prejudice is somehow ‘different’ or more relevant than other forms of bigotry.

    Especially, asking these questions in relation to morality. Whose morality?

  2. Paul R says

    Morally acceptable? What does that really mean? Something different to everyone. I don’t find it morally acceptable that someone would strap a dog to the roof of a car and drive 11 hours, but I don’t see a lot of polls on that.

    I don’t give a damn about whether people find me morally acceptable. Glass houses.

  3. TJ says

    Interesting slight downward trends in 2004 and 2012. One wonders the reason. Election year politics, and demonization of gays to energize the base? Who knows? But the overall trend certainly is positive.

  4. Hans says

    TJ, I was thinking the same thing about the recent downturn.

    I also wonder why there is a difference between moral acceptability and legality in the first graph. If you think gay marriage is morally fine, why would you object to it legally? If anything, I would think it would be the other way around, no?

  5. TRR says

    Why is it that the sexual orientation of a perpetrator of immoral or criminal behavior–whether torture, auto theft or genocide–is only mentioned when the perp is non-heterosexual? It’s a rhetorical question, but the net effect of publicly and explicitly associating heinous social behavior with only non-straight sexual orientations seems to cause polls like this to have traction. The question may actually measure a change in some attitude from year to year, but the ridiculously broad term “gay or lesbian relations” reminds me “not everything that’s counted, counts.”

  6. Hank says

    I guess this is good news, but it is still chilling that so many people will choose the statement that gay relations are ‘morally’ unacceptable, whatever that means in this context. I always thought morality was about how you treat other people, do unto others , that kind of thing. Really it’s like asking, is it morally acceptable to eat peanut butter- the question is not applicable. So why is Gallup framing the question in this christian fundamentalist way to begin with? Why not ask: is it morally acceptable to discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation?…if they want a question that touches on an actual moral issue. And I wonder if 42% would really say yes to that. But instead Gallup is choosing a question that is very negatively slanted against gay people, which, of course, determines the responses.

  7. Francis says

    Morally acceptable really is a loaded phrase, and most people probably don’t think in that way when answering this question. The question is essentially, do you think it’s OK to be gay? Do you have a problem with homosexuality or not?

    The numbers are getting better, but still, over 40% of people in America do not think it’s OK to be gay. Some people I do think with this being an election year are moving to their “default” safe-place, conservative roots, hence the lower numbers in terms of gay acceptance. The fact near half of our country is anti-gay isn’t really a celebratory thing. It just means that progress has been made, but much more progress is needed.

  8. Hank says

    And here’s a comparison. If Gallup were polling about racial attitudes, they would not, fortunately, today ask if interracial sexual relations are ‘morally ‘ acceptable or ‘wrong.’ The word ‘morally’ wouldn’t be there, because we do, finally, have a hard-won consensus in our public discourse that that question is about prejudice , not ‘moral’ beliefs. It’s about a visceral negative emotional reaction which, thankfully, is no longer widely acceptable, nor allowed to masquerade as a moral belief.

  9. says

    I agree that the question itself is bogus to any reasonable person. “Is it morally correct to eat peanut butter,” indeed!

    I am always curious what results an opposite comparison question would have:

    “Are heterosexual relations morally acceptable or morally wrong?”

    “Should mixed-sex marriages be valid?”

  10. andrew says

    We are indeed making progress. However Nov 2012 is still too early and the gay issue will be the straw that breaks the democrats back. I think that we are looking at POTUS Romney and conservative SCOTUS appointments and the coming generation of lean years.

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