Back in the 1990s, most Americans said they didn’t know anyone who was gay.
A CNN/ORC International survey released Wednesday (6 June) shows a dramatic shift with 60 percent of the 1,009 adults interviewed saying they have a close friend or family member who is gay. That is an 11 percent increase from just two years ago.
Of those polled – 895 of which are registered voters -54 percent said they are in favor of same-sex marriages being legal while 42 percent are opposed. Three-quarters of the respondents on both sides of the issue said they feel strongly about their stance.
Despite the opposition, the poll results confirm a trend in recent years towards acceptance of gays and lesbians.
‘Attitudes toward sexual orientation have also changed over that same time period,’ says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. ‘In 1998, a majority believed that someone who is gay or lesbian could change their sexual orientation if they choose to do so. Today, only a third feel that way, and the number who say that gays and lesbians cannot change their orientation is almost six in ten. Those shifts probably explain the growing acceptance of same-sex marriage.’
But gay marriage remains a sharly-divided partisan and generational issue.
Among Democrats, seven out of ten polled are in favor of the marriages while six out of ten independent voters also support it. But 72 percent of the Republicans polled are opposed.
Among those under the age of 50, two-thirds are in favor of gauy marriage while 55 percent of those age 50 and over are opposed.
Telephone interviews were conducted by ORC International on May 29-31, 2012.