News Articles

On views of homosexuality, U.S. differs from Canada, Britain

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The United States is partners in many ways with Canada and Great Britain, but on the issue of homosexuality, America could not be more different, new data from Gallup shows.

According to Gallup, both Canadian and British citizens tend to be more liberal than their counterparts in the United States when it comes to homosexuality acceptance. A slight majority in both Canada and Britain favor “gay marriage,” while Americans oppose it by a margin of 2-to-1. Similarly, a majority of Americans believe homosexuality is “morally wrong,” while most in Canada and Great Britain say it is “morally acceptable.”

“Public sentiment appears more accepting of homosexuality in Canada and Great Britain, and gay rights advocates seem to be making headway in both countries,” Gallup’s Heather Mason Kiefer wrote in an online analysis May 24. “… Developments in gay rights, particularly rights relating to marriage, have been making news across the Western world for more than a decade.”

The European countries of Belgium and the Netherlands are the only nations worldwide that have legalized “gay marriage,” although Canada may soon follow. Seven of Canada’s 10 provinces have “marriage” for homosexuals, and the governing Liberal Party is pushing a bill that would legalize it nationwide. It is expected to pass. In addition, Great Britain has passed a law legalizing same-sex civil unions, which grant homosexual couples all the benefits of marriage. It is scheduled to go into effect later this year.

By contrast, the U.S. has a law (the Defense of Marriage Act) explicitly prohibiting the federal government from recognizing “same-sex marriage.” Also, 18 states have passed amendments to their respective constitutions aimed at banning “marriage” between homosexuals. At least 10 other states are considering them. Massachusetts is the only state to recognize “gay marriage.” It came via court order.

Among Gallup’s findings:

— 60 percent of Canadians and 61 percent of British citizens believe homosexuality is “morally acceptable.” But by a margin of 54-42 percent, Americans say it is “morally wrong.”

— 51 percent of Canadian citizens and 52 percent of those in Britain favor legalized “gay marriage.” Americans, though, oppose it by wide margins. A July 2004 Gallup poll last year had Americans opposing “same-sex marriage” by a margin of 62-32 percent. In the nine polls Gallup has conducted on the question since 2003, the average margin of opposition has been 61 percent.

— 38 percent of adults in both Canada and Great Britain favor seeing homosexuality “more widely accepted.” In the U.S., only 29 percent feel that way. By contrast, 36 percent of Americans want to see homosexuality “less widely accepted.” That number is 24 percent in Great Britain and 15 percent in Canada.

The poll numbers are based on a series of polls in each country both this year and last year. In each case, approximately 1,000 adults were surveyed. Gallup regularly conducts polls in all three countries.
For information about the national debate over “gay marriage,” visit www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage.

    About the Author

  • Michael Foust