The overwhelming trend in American public opinion reveals that we have more allies than foes in our struggle for basic equal rights, says Urvashi Vaid, Policy Institute Director for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF). NGLTF’s recent report, entitled From Wrongs to Rights 1973-1999: Public Opinion on Gay and Lesbian Americans Moves Toward Equality, shows that, while “moral” opposition to homosexuality remains prevalent, Americans are increasingly supportive of equal rights for GLBT citizens.
Written by Columbia University political scientist Alan Yang, the report is the culmination of 26 years of through tracking of public opinion data, and details change in public opinion on individual issues. Yang writes, “trends in public opinion toward lesbian and gay equality have liberalized on nearly every major issue over time.” For example, support for equal opportunity and treatment in jobs and housing has increased from a plurality in the late 1970s to a strong majority (of 75-85%) in 1999. Yang and NGTLF suggest that the huge increase in the number of respondents who know a gay or lesbian person has undoubtedly contributed to the positive changes in public opinion.
Women are more supportive of GLBT rights than men, and blacks are more supportive than whites. While democrats have become more tolerant and inclusive of gays and lesbians over time, Republican condemnation and homosexuality and gay rights has continued almost unchanged.