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Poll shows increasing acceptance of homosexuality; results questioned

WASHINGTON (BP)–Americans continue to demonstrate an increasingly favorable view of homosexuality, according to a recent survey, but a pro-family leader said it may be partly because of the kind of questions asked.

A poll by the Gallup Organization found the liberalization of public opinion toward homosexuality continues, with noteworthy changes on whether it is an acceptable alternative lifestyle and whether it is genetically caused.

The view that homosexuality should be considered an acceptable lifestyle jumped from 38 percent in 1992 to 52 percent in May of this year, according to Gallup. Americans who believe it is unacceptable as an alternative lifestyle decreased from 57 to 43 percent in the same time span.

For the first time, Gallup found as many people believe homosexuality is genetic as those who regard it as caused by factors such as environment and upbringing. This year, 40 percent said people are born as homosexuals, while 39 percent attributed it to other factors. Only two years before, 44 percent said it was based on other factors, while 34 percent said it was genetic. In 1977, the first year Gallup reported asking the question, environment and upbringing were favored by 56 to 13 percent.

Other results revealing increasing liberalism on homosexuality, according to Gallup, were:

— 54 percent said “homosexual relations between consenting adults” should be legal, while 42 percent said they should not. The last time the reverse was true was 1996, when opponents of legalization outnumbered proponents 47 to 44 percent.

— 85 percent said homosexuals should have “equal rights in terms of job opportunities,” while 11 percent said they should not. In 1977, respondents favored “equal rights” by 56 to 33 percent. There has been a steady climb for such rights since that time.

The survey, which was released June 4, also found more favorable attitudes toward hiring homosexuals in several occupations, including the professional ministry and teaching. From 1992 to 2001, the percentage of those who said homosexuals should be hired as pastors and other clergy increased from 43 to 54 percent. During the same time period, Americans favoring the hiring of homosexuals as grade school teachers moved from 41 to 56 percent. Those who said homosexuals should be hired as high school teachers grew from 47 to 63 percent.

Robert Knight, director of the Washington-based Culture and Family Institute, said Gallup’s questions “seem designed to elicit ‘tolerant’ responses.” CFI is an affiliate of Concerned Women for America.

“None addresses how Americans feel about homosexual behavior,” Knight wrote in a column for the Internet service World Net Daily. “None asks respondents whether they would like their child taught by an openly homosexual teacher.

“Even most opponents of ‘gay’ activism want an even playing field in employment. They don’t want people singled out and fired for being gay; but they don’t want people hired for being gay, which is a far likelier scenario.”

A 1996 survey by Princeton Survey Research Associates found 84 percent of Americans believed homosexuals “should have equal rights in job opportunities,” but 83 percent said they should not receive “special protections in the workplace, like those given to minorities or the disabled.”

Knight, who has tracked the homosexual rights movement for several years, expressed some surprise Gallup’s numbers favoring homosexuality are not even higher, “given the relentlessly one-sided ‘gay’ portrayals in the media … and the pro-homosexual scripts edited by ‘gay’ activists for prime-time television and Hollywood films.”

It is time for Gallup to ask some questions “that just might tease out the truth,” Knight said. Among those he suggested were:

— “Do you think bisexuals should have more rights when they are engaging in homosexuality than they do when they are acting like heterosexuals?

— “Do you think that a lesbian ought to have preferential status in terms of job hiring and placement over your father/brother/sister?”

The Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest homosexual political organization, was encouraged by the poll.

“Clearly, these numbers show dramatic progress in how Americans view gay and lesbian issues,” said HRC communications director David Smith in a written release.

“As more and more gay families come forward and America gets to know them, support will continue to increase.”

A majority of Americans continue to oppose civil unions for homosexuals, however. According to Gallup, 52 percent, down 2 percent from the year before, oppose civil unions, which would give homosexuals some of the legal rights of married couples.

The poll results may be found on the Internet at www.gallup.com.