- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 5, 2003

Most Americans say homosexual sexual relations are morally wrong, according to public-opinion polls that have tracked such opinions for two decades, and they oppose homosexual “marriage.”

But a majority in such polls say homosexual relations between consenting adults should not be against the law.

Those most accepting of homosexual relationships are Americans in their 20s, who rarely attend religious services and live in the northeastern states, according to data from the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.

Americans generally support some sort of domestic benefits to homosexual couples, says Karlyn Bowman, a scholar at American Enterprise Institute (AEI), which in May released a study about public attitudes about homosexuality. “But they draw the line at gay marriage.”



A Gallup Poll taken last month found that 55 percent of Americans said “marriages” between homosexuals “should not be recognized as valid.” This majority is somewhat smaller than in 1996, when 68 percent of Americans said homosexual “marriages” shouldn’t be valid, Mrs. Bowman said.

What’s happened, she said, is that older people have become as accepting of homosexuality as younger people, and this is unusual because older people typically don’t adopt attitudes of younger people.

The Supreme Court decision to overturn a Texas law prohibiting homosexual sodomy “is generally in line with the attitudes of the majority of Americans,” Frank Newport, vice president of the Gallup Organization, said in the wake of that ruling.

Mrs. Bowman agreed. “There certainly is more acceptance of homosexual involvement in virtually every profession,” she said, “and that is a very substantial change over time.”

There’s even evidence that Americans would accept a homosexual person running for president, she said. The only kind of candidate a majority of the public would not accept is an atheist.

Mr. Newport, the editor in chief of Gallup Polls, said Gallup first asked Americans in 1977 about whether homosexual relations between consenting adults should be legal, not criminal.

In 1977, Americans were evenly divided, with 43 percent for it and 43 percent against, Mr. Newport said. When asked this year whether homosexual activity should be legal between consenting adults in their homes, 62 percent of Americans said it should be.

When the National Opinion Research Center first asked Americans in 1973 what they thought about “sexual relations between two adults of the same sex,” 73 percent said it was “always wrong.” By 2002, a smaller majority — 53 percent — said such relations were “always wrong.”

The Gallup Poll taken in May also found that 52 percent of Americans believe homosexuality between consenting adults is “morally wrong.”

“People are more comfortable with the idea of providing health and job-related benefits to homosexual couples,” but most “do not endorse legally sanctioned gay marriage,” the AEI report said.

There’s some evidence that there may be less opposition to laws creating a “civil union,” similar to the one created in Vermont three years ago that gives marriagelike rights to homosexual couples in Vermont. The May Gallup Poll found that 49 percent favored and 49 percent opposed “a law that would allow homosexual couples to legally form civil unions, giving them some of the legal rights of married couples.”

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