A new Gallup poll shows that Americans have become far more tolerant of gay and lesbian relations. The poll, which measures tolerance of a series of moral behaviors, shows a 19% increase in the acceptance of gay and lesbian relations since 2001, to the current level of 59%. While this change correlates with the huge increase in the number of states across the country allowing gay marriage, the data shows high regional differences, suggesting that more socially conservative states are unlikely to see changes any time soon.
The trend of accepting same-sex marriage has been evident in state legislatures, where the number of states approving same-sex marriage has doubled to 14 since election day 2012. While one would expect this trend to continue, opposition at the state level and state constitutional bans will make it difficult for the same-sex marriage cause to progress. For example, in Kentucky nearly two-thirds oppose same-sex marriage, and in Louisiana support is at a low 29%.
The issue, therefore, is progressing mainly on a regional basis with the Northeast seeing fast-growing support, and with Southern states lagging far behind. Most recently, a judge in Texas cited the state’s morality clause to ban a gay couple from living together as part of a custody agreement since the mother is forbidden to have anyone she is dating or is intimate with be at her home with her two children after 9 p.m.
Also in Texas, the Boy Scouts of America will convene a meeting of local leaders Thursday to discuss possible changes to the organization’s ban on openly gay members. Fellow PolicyMic writer Zach Wahls, the founder of Scouts for Equality, recently published a compelling article commenting on the proposal.
A huge boost to the gay cause could however come this summer if the Supreme Court issues a broad ruling in favor of gay rights in the cases before the Court, including a ruling on the California same-sex marriage ban.
Given that 30 out of the 34 states which currently ban same-sex marriage have done so by constitutional amendment, gay marriage is unlikely to be adopted by a majority of American states any time soon, baring a sweeping ruling by the Supreme Court.
Other interesting findings from the poll that the tolerance for having a baby outside of marriage is up to a record high 60%, a 15% increase from 2001. The most morally acceptable item in the survey was birth control at 91%, and the least acceptable was having an extramarital affair, which was viewed as acceptable by only 6% of respondents.
The poll concludes: “Americans continue to evince a wide divergence of opinions about the moral acceptability of a number of behaviors. Americans are generally accepting of such things as birth control, divorce, embryonic stem cell research, gambling, sex between unmarried men and women, the death penalty, and having a baby outside of marriage. But they still disapprove of married men and women having an affair, cloning humans, polygamy, suicide, pornography, and teenagers having sex.”