63 Percent of Americans Believe LGBT Discrimination is a Serious Problem in US

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In a new Gallup poll, 63 percent of Americans describe discrimination against gays and lesbians as a “very” or “somewhat serious” problem in the United States. Americans who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) are even more likely to see discrimination as a serious problem, at 88 percent.

The results are based on a Nov. 26-29 USA Today/Gallup poll. In addition to a random sample of 1,015 U.S. adults, as part of the study Gallup re-interviewed 250 LGBT adults who had participated in prior Gallup polls to see how that group’s views compared with those of the larger U.S. population.

Americans overall and LGBT Americans have similar views on how challenging it is for gay or lesbian adults to live openly in their community. In this respect, both Americans and LGBT adults are generally positive, with a majority of each group saying it is “not too difficult” or “not at all difficult” to live as openly gay or lesbian. Still, about 40 percent of each group believes it is difficult to do so where they live.

The generally more negative views about gay and lesbian discrimination nationwide versus the more positive views about the difficulty of living as openly gay or lesbian in one’s local community could reflect Americans’ tendency to see conditions in the United States as a whole as worse than those in the area where they live. This has been apparent when Gallup has asked Americans to rate local versus national crimeeducation and economic conditions.

Another reason most LGBT Americans may say it is not difficult to live as openly gay or lesbian in their community is that they overwhelmingly see growing tolerance toward gays and lesbians. The poll finds 91 percent of LGBT adults saying people in their community have become more accepting of gays and lesbians in recent years. The question was not asked of the national sample.

LGBT Americans Optimistic About Future Consensus on Gay Rights Issues

Gallup trends on gay and lesbian rights issues clearly indicate a trend toward growing acceptance and tolerance nationally in recent decades. For example, Gallup now finds a majority of Americans favoring legal same-sex marriage, whereas a majority opposed it prior to 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.

A slim majority of Americans, 51 percent, say the public will eventually agree on gay rights issues in the future; but nearly as many, 45 percent, believe these issues “will always divide Americans.”

LGBT adults are much more optimistic than Americans as a whole about an emerging consensus, with 77 percent believing Americans will agree on gay rights issues in the future and 21 percent believing the public will always be divided.

The heavily Democratic political leanings of LGBT adults may partly explain why they are more optimistic. The views of LGBT adults on future consensus are very similar to those of Democrats overall. Specifically, 65 percent of Democrats think the country will reach agreement on gay rights issues in the future, while 33 percent disagree.

In contrast, a majority of Republicans, 61 percent, believe the U.S. will continue to be divided on gay rights issues, with 34 percent expecting a consensus to emerge. 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.

While Democrats are more positive and Republicans less positive about the future for gay rights issues, Democrats are far more negative about gay and lesbian discrimination today than Republicans are. 81 percent of Democrats say gay and lesbian discrimination is a very or somewhat serious problem in the United States today, compared with 48 percent of Republicans. Again, on this matter, Democrats’ views are similar to those of the LGBT population, among whom 88 percent say discrimination is a serious problem.

Implications

Most Americans see discrimination toward gays and lesbians as a serious problem in the United States today, and those perceptions are particularly common among those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Even so, LGBT Americans are rather optimistic that things will get better, with the vast majority expecting a consensus on gay rights issues in the future.

Though the demographic trends in gay rights issues would predict a growing consensus in the future, politics may get in the way of that. Republicans still trail Democrats and independents in their support for gay rights and it is unclear whether that will change. The Republican Party still officially opposes gay marriage, consistent with the views of its rank-and-file members. And those who oppose gay marriage most often cite biblical or religious teachings as the reason for their opposition. Thus, consensus on gay marriage and other gay rights issues may depend on whether Republicans and those opposed to gay marriage on religious grounds hold firm to their current beliefs or follow the growing societal trend toward greater tolerance, acceptance, and equality for gays and lesbians.

Source: Jeffrey M. Jones/Gallup

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ST says:

I believe the statement in this article: “those who oppose gay marriage most often cite biblical or religious teachings as the reason for their opposition”–is the white elephant in the room. I have never known, or heard of, anyone opposed give any OTHER reason–whether they blantly state it or not. It is an important item to clarify as it opens whole other doors of argument about how love, family, and sexual expression are perceived.

tjpratt says:

Why do Gay people feel they are better then those that oppose them, your not. In America they have that right. Apparently its “your way or the highway”. You have become tedious and boring.