Americans move dramatically toward acceptance of homosexuality

September 28, 2011, University of Chicago
A plurality of Americans now support marriage of people of the same sex, a major change in the last few years. Credit: University of Chicago

Although sharply divided, public attitudes toward gays and lesbians are rapidly changing to reflect greater acceptance, with younger generations leading the way, research by NORC at the University of Chicago shows.

In addition to a plurality who now approve of same-sex marriage, Americans overwhelmingly support basic civil liberties and freedom of expression for gays and lesbians, in contrast to sharp division on such issues in the 1970s. Taken together, the results show a clear "trend toward greater tolerance regarding homosexuality," said Tom W. Smith, director of the at NORC and author of the NORC report, " toward Homosexuality."

The rise in support for same-sex marriage has been especially dramatic over the last two decades. It went from 11 percent approval in 1988 to 46 percent in 2010, compared to 40 percent who were opposed, producing a narrow plurality in favor for the first time. The report is based on findings of the latest General Social Survey, conducted in 2010 with a cross sample of more than 2,000 people.

"There is a large generation on the issue [of same-sex marriage]," Smith said. While 64 percent of those under 30 back same-sex marriage, only 27 percent of those 70 and older support it.

During the past three decades, Americans have become increasing tolerant of gays and lesbians being allowed the teach. Credit: University of Chicago

Acceptance of homosexuality in general also reflects the generational difference in opinion. In 2010, 26 percent of the people surveyed who were under 30 said they felt same-sex behavior is "always wrong," while 63 percent of the people aged 70 and older held that opinion.

As a result of the generational division, public attitudes are sharply divided on the issue. Although 44 percent of the people surveyed felt that between two adults of the same sex is always wrong, another 41 percent thought such relations were "not wrong at all."

"Just 11 percent were in the middle, saying it was either 'almost always wrong' or 'wrong only sometimes.' is thus highly polarized on this issue, with few people sharing the middle ground," Smith said.

The GSS, which has been conducted biennially for 40 years, showed a marked increase in support of many for gays and lesbians. Support for a gay person's right to speak before a public audience increased from 62 percent in 1972 to 86 percent in 2010; support for allowing gays and lesbians to teach at colleges or universities rose from 48 percent in 1973 to 84 percent in 2010; and approval for having a library keep a book that favors homosexuality rose from 54 percent in 1973 to 78 percent in 2010.

The change toward acceptance of homosexuality began in the late 1980s after years of remaining relatively constant. In 1973, 70 percent of people felt same-sex relations are "always wrong," and in 1987, 75 percent held that view. By 2000, however, that number dropped to 54 percent and by 2010 was down to 43.5 percent.

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37 comments

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fmfbrestel
5 / 5 (4) Sep 28, 2011
See! This is what you get, Sesame Street! Shame on you, what did you think would happen when you took Burt and Ernie out of the closet?

/sarcasm
Dichotomy
5 / 5 (3) Sep 28, 2011
but quite funny. Well said fmfbrestel.
panorama
5 / 5 (1) Sep 28, 2011
"Americans are slow to hostility" - Winston Churchill
Temple
4.2 / 5 (15) Sep 28, 2011
Reminds me of a saying:

"Homosexuality has been found in over 450 species. Homophobia has been found in only one. Which one seems natural now?"
OverweightAmerican
1.2 / 5 (25) Sep 28, 2011
Homosexuality is only being accepted because it's "hip" and "trendy". You cannot argue that homosexuality is natural, it just defies all logic - a man is born with a penis, a woman is born with a vagina; they are compatable organs. Individuals in a good state of mental health are attracted to the opposite sex because it leads to reproduction and the birth of the next generation of the species.
If an individual is attracted to the same sex it means effectively they don't have a natural desire to reproduce which goes against the whole reason of an individual's existance in a species. Therefore homosexuality is actually, from a logical perspective, a state of bad mental health. These people should not be encouraged.
Deadbolt
3.2 / 5 (6) Sep 28, 2011
I'm still amazed that so many have strong opinions against it. 26% and the like are still huge numbers in a population comprising over 200 million.
Neophile
4.6 / 5 (16) Sep 28, 2011
@OverweightAmerican - Something can be both natural and of poor reproductive fitness. Sterile individuals happen. People with disabilities precluding reproduction happen. These are not "unnatural" conditions, they just preclude reproduction. You can argue that homosexuality is a genetic dead end, but it is in no way unnatural.
Temple
4.7 / 5 (14) Sep 28, 2011
Further, an estimated 10% of the human population throughout history doesn't have children. Similar numbers are found in many 'pack' species.

And that isn't necessarily a genetic dead-end. Genes which provide benefit for close relations, or the species as a whole, but not necessarily for a given individual within the population, still have a tendency for evolutionary survival.

Arguing that this is unnatural or even evolutionarily detrimental is myopic to say the least. A society is benefited by a good number of non-parent adults.

Of course, whether or not somebody is evolutionarily valuable is a poor argument against any segment of the population. That sort of eugenics smacks of bigotry.
thales
4.5 / 5 (8) Sep 28, 2011
Even if homosexuality were entirely unnatural, it doesn't logically follow that it's not good.

Vaccines aren't natural, but they're good. I'm not looking forward to death, despite the fact that it's natural. Pretty much all technology is unnatural, but only Luddites think it's all bad.
emsquared
4.2 / 5 (10) Sep 28, 2011
Therefore homosexuality is actually, from a logical perspective, a state of bad mental health.

See but your "logic" is not based on demonstrated fact or truth, nor is it even logic, your statement is petitio principii - a logical fallacy.
epicurious
3.9 / 5 (7) Sep 28, 2011
Homosexuality is only being accepted because it's "hip" and "trendy"

Wow, bigotry comes in all colors with different rationalizations
210
1.5 / 5 (8) Sep 28, 2011
Homosexuality is only being accepted because it's "hip" and "trendy". You cannot argue that homosexuality is natural, it just defies all logic .

Indeed: if IF human sexuality were just those appendages, just those readily visible anatomically identifiable parts of our anatomy, then THAT would be THAT. But human sexuality is far more complex & subject 2 forces acting in a complex manner. Example; while still inside D mother, ALL human life begins AS A FEMALE! As a man, I am SO GLAD, there R women N D world, so glad N fact, that if I were not a man, I would HAVE 2 B A LESBIAN! See how it works?!? CAN"T imagine anything else! We still do not know D exact mechanism whereby the sex of the offspring is decided. We know the male/sperm determines sex, but, How did the sperm invoke the proper channels for male or female sexual development? Look at all the variations in male and female masculinity and femininity.A Few drops of a paticular hormone! & NONE of US chose D body were in!
word
210
1.5 / 5 (8) Sep 28, 2011
Homosexuality is only being accepted because it's "hip" and "trendy"

Wow, bigotry comes in all colors with different rationalizations

In fairness; I observe, homosexuality is used N a "hip and trendy" fashion. I remember Lindsay Lohan ARDENTLY & STRIDENTLY declaring her homosexuality...only to 'set it aside' a while later. A great dis-service to righteous discussion on the issues of gay and lesbian existence. Frankly, I feel like Dirty Harry N Dat movie Magnum Force, "if everyone N D police force could shoot as well as they do, I would not care if the whole damn force was queer." When I or anyone is intimate wid someone, no one is watching.how does anyone know 4 SURE, what anyone else REALLY is?!? Some say, "God does not like queers and dykes." My response must B," Okay, God, you uh take care of that, I can't!!" I just want 2 B around N case that six foot, Dolly Parton clone changes her mind! Meanwhile, Love is better than hate, the way life is better Than Death!
Word-
210
1.3 / 5 (7) Sep 28, 2011
"You cannot argue that homosexuality is natural."
Hum, Indeed: Natural, I don't have all the science, YET! The 'norm' it cannot be. Why? If it met the definition of being the norm...any cataclysm including war or progressive birth defect would destroy the human race. No, it is not the norm. We need heterosexuals to MAKE homosexuals. Are homosexuals worthy of inclusion in the realm of man(generic)? Oh yes. Why? Because human sexuality is such a small part of the total human being NO MATTER HOW BIG YOUR MEMBER OR DRIVE. It is not big enough to replace your intellectual or other physical abilities. Now when gays marry we will need a whole new set of laws to govern their lives. Why? A man cannot marry his daughter and the taboo has punitive and deadly biological ramifications, very severe penalty/suffering. A gay or lesbian person can marry an offspring WITH OR WITHOUT these ramifications depending on how D child was introduced N 2 the family. Don't waste time hating them
word-to-ya-muthas
astro_optics
1.3 / 5 (12) Sep 29, 2011
Homosexuality seems to be closely lined with people with Socialist tendencies, ironically the homosexuals are not all that well treated in Socialist states!
Sean_W
1.8 / 5 (4) Sep 29, 2011
All animals except mammals have a single orifice for urine, excrement and mating. Hence, if your not a mammal, all sex is anal. Now back to the topic:

The change in opinion over such a small time frame is rather remarkable though attitudes toward the subject have varied greatly over the history of civilization and pre-history.

What will be really interesting to see is if positive attitudes toward homosexuality continue to spread amongst ethnic groups that are not part of the traditionally wealthy Western culture--groups like Hispanic, Muslim, African and others--or if such groups begin to contribute a net negative influence to the general view of homosexuality in the West via immigration.
visual
2 / 5 (2) Sep 29, 2011
As the old saying goes: "... as long as both chicks are hot" :P
kaasinees
1 / 5 (9) Sep 29, 2011
no heterosexual organism accepts homosexuality, they condone it.
if hetero would accept it they would either receive or give homo, which is contradictory to hetero.
I also believe more people are becoming pan or bi, which can be related to humans moving closer to their primitive behavior.
kaasinees
1 / 5 (4) Sep 29, 2011
we like to put humans in a different group than animals, but the population is becoming more and more "animal" like. Its funny throughout history we have had far more sophisticated cultures than we have now.
emsquared
4 / 5 (8) Sep 29, 2011
we like to put humans in a different group than animals, but the population is becoming more and more "animal" like. Its funny throughout history we have had far more sophisticated cultures than we have now.

You are aware that every period of human history, and every continent, including Ancient Egypt, Babylonians, Persia, Aztecs, Mayans, Chuang Tzu era China, the Laws of Manu from Inida, Greek, Roman, Ancient to Edo Era Japan and Renaissance Europe -i.e. the most "sophisticated" cultural eras in human history- have "rich" histories (well documented and acknowledged) of homosexuality, right? Nothing's changed except people are more and more beginning to realize that sexuality is a basic human freedom as well.
thales
4 / 5 (6) Sep 29, 2011
Some of these comments are crazy.
210
1.8 / 5 (9) Sep 29, 2011
we like to put humans in a different group than animals, but the population is becoming more and more "animal" like. Its funny throughout history we have had far more sophisticated cultures than we have now.

You are aware that every period of human history, and every continent, including Ancient Egypt, Babylonians, Persia, Aztecs, Mayans, Chuang Tzu era China, the Laws of Manu from Inida, Greek, Roman, Ancient to Edo Era Japan and Renaissance Europe -i.e. the most "sophisticated" cultural eras in human history- have "rich" histories (well documented and acknowledged) of homosexuality, right? Nothing's changed except people are more and more beginning to realize that sexuality is a basic human freedom as well.
Yet, in all fairness, not ONE of these cultures condone or instituted same sex marriage. They never saw gay union as a threat to marriage, because they did see the primary importance of 'marriage.' The world HAS CHANGED and we know this. The vitality of the...
210
1.4 / 5 (8) Sep 29, 2011
Human race is not deposited in distant and unique pockets of humanity in distinct cultures that lack mass media, telephone, etc. In ancient Greece men and young and teen boys were condoned, but two adult males were frowned upon:It was a different gay lifestyle than now.Ancient Egypt was an incestuous culture and paid dearly for it biologically speaking - a doubling of birth defects every generation. This would go on in China as well and other countries until we learned what it was doing to humanity. Every culture in history was built upon the primal marriage state of the heterosexuals. If gays say they wish to marry THAT cannot be a threat to the remaining 92% of the human race. Historically, it IS a new concept and it will, in time, require wrenching change to DIVORCE laws, inheritance law, some areas of taxation, etc, etc, etc. The historical importance of the heterosexual union, despite ALL its problems -c'mon eHarmony- will not die or fade.
word-to-ya-muthas
emsquared
5 / 5 (1) Sep 29, 2011
Yet, in all fairness, blah blah blah...

Dude, kaas was basically implying that the increasing acceptance of homosexuality or his perception of it's increased prevalence indicated we were becoming more and more like animals, sighting past supposedly more sophisticated societies as proof. I disproved his point, simply by pointing out that homosexuality has always been present in all societies.

I didn't say anything to about gay marriage or to assault your sanctity of marriage, much less about incest at all, I didn't say anything false, yet you go and rep me 1? How about you say something relevant to my point and then rep appropriately, instead of just using it as a soap box for your hidden bigotry and false open-mindedness?
210
1 / 5 (2) Sep 30, 2011
I gave you A FOUR...NOT a one...How did a four turn into a ONE!!!!!
210
2 / 5 (4) Sep 30, 2011
"Dude, kaas was basically implying that the increasing acceptance of homosexuality or his perception of it's increased prevalence indicated we were becoming more and more like animals, sighting past supposedly more sophisticated societies as proof. I disproved his point, simply by pointing out that homosexuality has always been present in all societies."
I did NOT disagree with that in my mind or in my comments...I could not have intentionally given you a ONE!
"I didn't say anything to about gay marriage or to assault your sanctity of marriage, much less about incest at all, I didn't say anything false,"
I AGREE, you said nothing False!
BUT THIS IS HOW WARS START a possible accident, a hurried gesture, a digit off and we humans are ready to believe the very worst because we are offended AND we never understood/communicated well anyway. Peace is therefore NOT the absence of war, but the presence of a better understanding,Understanding takes work..the web doesn't promote this well!
210
1 / 5 (3) Sep 30, 2011
"I didn't say anything to about gay marriage or to assault your sanctity of marriage, much less about incest at all,"
NO, you did NOT say anything about incest or gay marriage, THE ARTICLE spoke of gay marriage and I spoke to THAT, check the article. Incest, WAS a sexual norm that you did NOT speak to yet the article outlines and so do you, pervasive and significant sexual practices whose acceptance has changed dramatically. Ancient sexual practices HAVE changed and people changed them, I said,"THE WORLD HAS CHANGED." I stand by that. I do not need to speak only to points YOU made or the article made, to make a point about both. There is also nothing personal, that is, ABOUT YOU, in anything I said..HELL, I DON'T KNOW YOU! Plenty of people give me 'ones' for posts I have made and I never give it time of day, to bother me. I still post, I write my opinion, they don't like it THEY have to live with it! I KNOW I meant to give you a FOUR! I may have mistakenly given you a one, sorry
word-
emsquared
5 / 5 (2) Sep 30, 2011
It happens, no worries... I'm just a prickly pear when it comes to my perception of people down-ranking based on message not on merit of the argument, appreciate the 'splaining tho.

As for the world changing or not, perhaps it's semantics but when I say "nothing has changed" I would be meaning that human sexuality has not changed. If anything it's gotten more reserved as STDs and what not are better understood, but more diverse as modern culture and inventions just facilitate that.

What has changed and is constantly changing is the perception of people of how sexuality "fits" into everyday life and into society. I don't think that we disagree, per se, but I think perhaps we see things from different angles which is of course to be expected, and even praised.
210
2 / 5 (4) Sep 30, 2011
@emsquared

THAT there is a five...I double checked...THAT'S A FIVE!

word-
Cynical1
not rated yet Oct 01, 2011
VD. Subtle sarcasm.... I like that.
kaasinees
1 / 5 (3) Oct 02, 2011
Dude, kaas was basically implying that the increasing acceptance of homosexuality

Its condoning, not accepting... See it like accepting a business deal, meaning you are a part of it. The right word is condonance. No heterosexual accepts homosexuality, its contradictory.
or his perception of it's increased prevalence

Where did i state that? I have no clue if there are more or less gays than before.
indicated we were becoming more and more like animals, sighting past supposedly more sophisticated societies as proof.

Which is true.
I disproved his point, simply by pointing out that homosexuality has always been present in all societies.

I am very well aware, and that was not that point i tried to make. My point i tried to make is that well ... stuff like gay parade, sissy boys, attention whores etc.
Shootist
1 / 5 (4) Oct 02, 2011
Reminds me of a saying:

"Homosexuality has been found in over 450 species. Homophobia has been found in only one. Which one seems natural now?"


If the condition is genetic, it may be (eventually) cured. What will be the (inevitable) result when parents have their children tested, and treated?

As a parent what choice would you make? Clinically defective or nominal? Last I looked it was still listed as a disorder in the ICD-9. Actuarial tables tell a story, as well. As likely to be alcoholic as those with alcoholic parents. More likely to die a violent death than many other populations.

It is either a lifestyle or a malady; either way it isn't very healthful for the participants.
PinkElephant
5 / 5 (2) Oct 02, 2011
As likely to be alcoholic as those with alcoholic parents. More likely to die a violent death than many other populations.
More than likely, attributable far less to their intrinsic condition, than to the oppressive society that makes their lives miserable and in some cases unbearable. The society is changing for the better, however -- as documented by the above-referenced study... That would lead one to expect a dramatic improvement in those actuarial numbers, over the coming decades.
It is either a lifestyle or a malady
What do you call it when a homosexual man lives in a closet? The heterosexual LIFESTYLE, in that case, stands in contradiction with his true sexual orientation. And he suffers as a result.

A malady? Yes, if you want to look at it strictly from a reproductive point of view. However, humans are not bacteria. The meaning and purpose of our lives are not circumscribed by our capacity to reproduce. Sterile and virginal heterosexuals should agree.
merelogic
1 / 5 (2) Oct 03, 2011
I love how easy it is to change the way Americans think.

"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State."
Joseph Goebbels (Hitler's propaganda minister)
Avenging Angel
1 / 5 (3) Oct 03, 2011
What a sad state of affairs, how is it even remotely possible that people would compare ourselves with that of the animals. Of course animals may seem to be engaged in homosexuality, but then again is merely a natural reaction without cause and effect that neither engages nor disdains the sexual desire?
People do so because it is immorally wrong, we are not designed for such functions and if one perceives it a sin, then it is sin. Folks there are higher powers that have inherently encompassed mankind with a sense of right or wrong, whether one chooses to believe in God or not. A prime example and scientifically proven case in point, is in the relational ships of our species. Reproduction, it was not Adam and Steve
that_guy
5 / 5 (2) Oct 05, 2011
As a straight guy, I willingly accept that a portion of the population is gay. Not that I can do anything about it, so there is no point in accepting otherwise.

I also condone giving gay people the same rights as straight people. Honestly, I don't care what they do, so long as it follows reasonable laws that are not specifically set up to discriminate against them.

If you believe that homosexuality is a sin, then you are entitled to that opinion, but by having that nonscientific opinion, I don't see why you would be on THIS site.

I mean really, how many times have you been stabbed by a rainbow? Sure, it would be uncomfortable if they hit on you or wear something particularly terrible, but then the same goes for a 200 pound fugly girl at the club. The the vast majority of gay people are respectful of the straights. 10% of the population is gay. Do one in 10 guys shove the gayness in your face?

The vast majority of gays are regular people...

Continued...
that_guy
5 / 5 (2) Oct 05, 2011
Why would you bother condemning the gay people anyways? Is it a choice to be beat up, chewed out, discriminated against, etc - just because the IDEA of their sexuality makes someone else uncomfortable? I mean, we all know that gay guys could bag better looking girls on average than straight guys. Do you think they WANT to be gay?? That makes no sense.

And there is science to back it up. Gayness is, in fact a genetic advantage to the family. How? If someone only has 'some' of the 'gay' genes they end up having better reproductive success than someone with no 'gay' genes. You end up with more understanding men, and women who are more aggressive and assertive in life, better balanced people.

Gay genes prevail because they are wholly beneficial in themselves for someone who recieves a partial dose.

Physorg had an article about that.

You could also have an extra, unencumbered gay family member to help watch the children or chip in during emergencies.

Also on physorg

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