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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 14, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 50
Facing up to discrimination - Americans increasingly think anti-Gay bias is a 'serious' problem, new poll says
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Facing up to discrimination - Americans increasingly think anti-Gay bias is a 'serious' problem, new poll says

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Most Americans believe anti-Gay bias is a 'very serious' or 'somewhat serious' social problem, according to a new Gallup poll released December 6.

As might be expected, people who identify as LGBT see the problem as more serious than Americans as a whole do.

Eighty-eight percent of self-identified LGBT respondents said anti-Gay bias was a 'very serious' or 'somewhat serious problem,' compared with 63% of all respondents. Only 12% of LGBT respondents said the problem was 'not too serious' or 'not at all serious,' compared with 35% of the entire sample.

The poll was conducted November 26-29, three weeks after four stunning electoral victories for same-sex couples, and included 1,015 U.S. adults. Both cell phones and landlines were used, and the margin of error is four percentage points.

As part of the poll, Gallup re-interviewed 250 LGBT adults who had participated in previous polling to see how their views compared with those of the general population.

VIEWPOINTS CONVERGING
While the LGBT sample found anti-Gay bias even more serious than respondents as a whole, the two groups have very similar views on how difficult life can be for LGBT Americans.

Forty percent of the LGBT respondents and 42% of all polltakers said it was 'very difficult' or 'somewhat difficult' to be openly Gay in their communities. Fifty-nine percent of the LGBT group and 56% of the larger sample said it was 'not too difficult' or 'not at all difficult.'

The poll also found that 91% of LGBT adults said people in their community have become more accepting of Gays and Lesbians in recent years. The question was not asked of the national sample.

According to Gallup's analysis, national trends on LGBT issues indicate movement toward 'growing acceptance and tolerance' in recent decades. For example, Gallup notes, polling now shows a majority of Americans support legalizing same-sex marriage, whereas a majority opposed it before 2011.

'Given the recent trajectory of these trends, and the fact that younger Americans are more accepting of Gay and Lesbian rights than older Americans, it would appear that the public will become even more tolerant in the future,' Gallup said in a statement accompanying the poll results.

A slim majority of the national sample, 51%, say the public will eventually agree on LGBT rights issues in the future - but nearly as many, 45%, believe these issues 'will always divide Americans.'

FUTURE PROGRESS SEEN
LGBT adults are much more optimistic than Americans as a whole about an emerging consensus, with 77% saying that Americans will agree on LGBT rights issues in the future, while only 21% believe the public will always be divided.

When the Gallup results are sorted by party affiliation, the views of LGBT respondents correlate closely with those of Democrats.

For example, 65% of Democrats in the sample think the country will reach agreement on Gay rights issues in the future, while 33% disagree. In contrast, 61% of Republicans believe the U.S. will continue to be divided on LGBT rights issues, and only 34% expect a consensus to emerge.

While Democrats are more positive and Republicans less positive about the future for LGBT rights issues, Democrats believe that anti-Gay discrimination today is a more serious problem than Republicans do.

Eighty-one percent of Democrats anti-Gay discrimination is a 'very serious' or 'somewhat serious' problem, compared with 48% of Republicans. Again, Democrats' views are similar to those of the LGBT sample, with 88% of LGBT respondents saying discrimination is a serious problem.

'Because people often associate with others who share their political orientation, this networking could reinforce their tendency to believe Americans' views about Gays and Lesbians will or will not eventually converge,' Gallup noted.

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