Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Harris poll shows that gays are winning the culture war

We're winning the war of attitudes, according to a new national poll released today. Now if we could just turn those attitudes into some votes.

The new poll is the first ever sponsored by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). The poll of 2,008 U.S. adults ages 18 and older was conducted Nov. 13-17, 2008. That's after the election and during the period when protests over the passage of Proposition 8 were gaining steam. The biggest day of protests was Nov. 15 when demonstrations were held around the nation. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percent.

GLAAD president Neil G. Giuliano told me in an interview today that he was surprised and pleased by one number: the 19 percent of respondents who said their attitudes towards gays and lesbians have improved over the last five years.

"I do feel like it's a big movement," Giuliano says. "I was an elected official at one time. If I could get 19 percent of people to move on an issue that would be significant. That bodes very well for our future."

I think this poll is a great step forward. The overwhelming support for gays to adopt, for the removal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and for some kind of relationship rights will undoubtedly help us work with lawmakers. The demographic information is also mightily helpful. I hate to be a naysayer, but I do feel frustrated. One can't do everything in a single poll, but I would love more hard data on the attitudes behind the opinions.

For example, why is support for non-discrimination legislation only at 51 percent? Do (a) people not understand the prejudice LGBT people face, (b) hate the idea of non-discrimination legislation or (c) none of the above?

I also want more information on attitudes about legal rights for same-sex relationships. Do all the people who support civil unions/domestic partnerships also support marriage? What do these folks think civil unions and domestic partnerships are?

All in all, this is a useful bit of research, but inquiring minds do want to know more.

Giuliano, by the way, served for 10 years as the mayor of Tempe, Ariz.

Here are the full results of the poll.

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