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Introduction to LGBT topics

U.S. Public opinions about
lesbians, gays, bisexuals, &
transgender persons (LGBTs).
Trends in public support in
the past and future:

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The term "GLBT" is an acronym for "Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
 Transgender/Transsexual. Sometimes, additional letters are
added: "Q" for Queer or questioning, "I" for Intersexual.

Disagreements about the government's treatment of GLBT persons:

It is probably no surprise to you that, as of late 2018, a major conflict remains over whether the U.S. Supreme Court should have redefinied marriage in mid-2015 to include same-sex marriage (SSM).

In the U.S., this the conflict over same-sex marriage rivals that over abortion access.

Even within a single religion, like Christianity, we see an active and currently irresolvable debate over how persons with a homosexual or bisexual orientation should be treated. The most vocal actors in the conflict take diametrically opposing positions:

bullet Religious and conservative Protestant Christians, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs etc., supported by members of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH): Most regard same-sex behavior as profoundly immoral and hated by God regardless of the nature of their relationships. Many regard GLBT persons as a threat to religious freedom, to the culture generally, and to the institution of opposite-sex marriage (which they generally refer to as "traditional marriage" or "natural marriage"). Most advocate a return to the banning of same-sex marriage. Some advocate the restoration of laws that once criminalized same-sex behavior. Most oppose the extension of federal hate-crime laws to include sexual orientation, and gender identity. Some still promote reparative therapy and prayer to convert gays into ex-gays.
 
bullet The Roman Catholic Church: This church teaches that same-sex behavior is intrinsically disordered, profoundly immoral, and hated by God regardless of the nature of the same-sex couples' relationships. They teach that lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons and transsexuals (LGBT) represent a threat to religious freedom. They are not viewed as a threat to the freedom of of the church and its members to believe as they wish, but as a threat to the freedom of members of the church to openly discriminate against LGBTs. The LGBT community is seen as a danger to the culture generally, and to the institution of marriage. The Catholic church recognizes that a homosexual or bisexual orientation is generally both unchosen and unchangeable. They generally do not recommend reparative therapy because of its very low success rate and the its dangers. They expect LGBTs to decide to remain celibate for life. They oppose many forms of discrimination against LGBTs but teach that some forms of discrimination are moral and needed.

bullet A variety of groups, consisting of most gays, lesbians, bisexuals, those of their friends and families of origin who are supportive, religious liberals and progressives, secularists, mental health professionals and their professional associations, civil libertarians, human sexuality researchers, etc: Most favor equal rights and protections for persons of all sexual orientations, including the right to marry. Most favor the extension of federal and state hate-crime laws to include violent crimes motivated by hatred of the victim's sexual orientation. Most regard homophobia -- rejection of the LGBT community -- to be as profoundly immoral as is sexism and racism. Most believe that homosexual, heterosexual and bisexual orientations and behavior are simply a normal and natural human condition, and is not intrinsically sinful.
 
bullet Religious moderates and mainliners tend to be split between the conservative and liberal viewpoints, with their position significantly correlated with their age -- older folks being far more opposed to equal treatment of persons of all sexual orientations.

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Public opinion in the U.S.:

bullet Until recently, adult support for same-sex marriage (SSM) remained below 50%. However, support has been gradually increasing for decades. During 2010 and 2011, many national polls showed that supporters of SSM began to out-number those opposed.
 
bullet About three in four of Canadian adults support same-sex marriage, which was legalized in all ten provinces and three territories during mid-2005 -- a full decade before the U.S.
 
bullet A significant majority of Americans would like to see persons of all sexual orientations protected from abuse, firing, discrimination in accommodation, violence in hate crimes, exclusion from the military, etc. In fact, the vast majority of American adults believe that a federal law granting persons protection in employment already exists. It doesn't.

Beliefs about homosexuality:

People love to portray situations in terms of two options: the weather is either too cold or too hot; most are either Democrats or Republicans; people are either heterosexual or homosexual, etc. But sometimes, life is not that simple. It certainly does not apply in the case of the conflict over sexual orientation.

We have observed a total of six different belief systems about homosexuality. They may be briefly described as:

bullet "Abomination:" Homosexual behavior is profoundly immoral at all times, irrespective of the nature of the relationship.

bullet "Change is expected:" Homosexuals can and must make every effort to change their sexual orientation to become heterosexual.

bullet "Celibacy is expected:" Since nobody can change their sexual orientation, they must  at least remain celibate.

bullet "Marginally acceptable:" Loving committed same-sex relationships are the least awful option, and is better than singles living promiscuously.

bullet "Affirmation:" Homosexuality, is morally neutral. Persons of all sexual orientations deserve equal rights.

bullet "Liberation:" Full acceptance and valuing of persons of all sexual orientations. Homophobia is the main evil. The six "clobber passages" in the Bible need to be reinterpreted.

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An example of the treatment of a lesbian in Canada by her Baptist Church:

Kimberley Mills is a lesbian who attended the Calvary Baptist Church in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada -- across Lake Ontario from Buffalo NY. She was a member and youth leader for four years. At first, she kept her sexual orientation secret. She did eventually reveal it to some women in her Bible study group. Later she opened up in a roundtable discussion. She was approached by some leaders and members who encouraged her to quit her "lifestyle" so that she could be reconciled to God.

On 2018-OCT-30, she received a letter from Deacon Chairman Tim Wagner of the church. It said, in part:

"It was brought to our attention that you have chosen to live in disobedience to the Scriptures, specifically disregarding the warning of 1 Corinthians 6:9, in spite of repeated efforts by other believers in your life, including other Calvary leadership and finally our pastoral staff.

Kim, we are exercising our responsibilities to follow the biblical instructions toward the goal of your repentance and full restoration to your walk with Christ and His Church fellowship (1 Corinthians 5:4-5). ... It is a very serious matter to remove a member for discipline as you will note in the 1 Corinthians 5:5 text, and our hearts are broken over it.

We pray that your heart will respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit that comes with our obedience to this Scripture, and that you will repent and be restored to your church family who love you deeply. Kim, please know that this was not entered into lightly and we pray for your full restoration."

In the King James Version, 1 Corinthians 6:9 states:

"Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind."

Other translations state the final phrase more clearly as: "men who practice homosexuality," or "liers with mankind," etc. St. Paul, the author the epistle, was apparently referring to men who engage in sexual activities with other men. There is only one passage in the Bible that discusses two women engaging in sex. It clearly refers to women with a heterosexual orientation during a pagan orgy. Kimberley Mills does not have a heterosexual orientation and almost certainly has never engaged in a pagan sex orgy. Thus the verse in 1 Corinthians does not apply to her.

Mills eloquently stated in her response to Wagner's letter:

"It’s clear that something needs to change. I feel that God designed me the way I am, and He’s going to love me the way I am. It never felt right being judged for being gay. It didn’t feel right."

Recent scientific research shows that -- at least among males -- homosexuality is caused by epigentics -- a layer on top of a person's DNA that was formed long before they were born. The layer is able to turn various genes on or off from among the 20,000 genes in a person's DNA. Further research will probably find the same cause in women. Also female fetuses who are exposed to high levels of testosterone before birth have much higher rates of non-heterosexual orientation. 2 Both are completely outside a person's control.

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Trends in support for marriage equality for the LGBT community in the U.S.:

The first public opinion polls on same-sex marriage (SSM) in the U.S. ocurred in the 1980s and continue today. Like all other past controversies over human rights, dealing with:

support for equality tends to rise from year to year, typically:

  • starting with public support significantly below 50% when the topic first becomes actively debated,
  • rising to 50% over many years or many decades,
  • rising significantly above 50% after equality has been attained.

As a general rule, when lack of equality becomes widely debated, and a movement is created to seek equality, it is eventually attained. However, it can take many, many decades.

The first legal case in which two same-sex petitioners sought a marriage license ocurred during 1970-MAY when two University of Minnesota students -- Richard John Jack Baker and James Michael McConnell, applied to Hennepin County District Court for a marriage license and were denied. 7 45 years later, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage across the United States, with the exception of the territory of American Samoa. 1 People there are generally considered American residents and not American citizens. Thus, High Court rulings do not necessarily apply there.

A massive gap in beliefs about marriage equality exists between America's youths and seniors. Most older teens and young adults, who are not religious conservatives, have accepted homosexuals as a normal and natural sexual minority. They are far more likely than their parents to have one or more gay, lesbian, and/or bisexual persons among their circle of friends. They are much more supportive equality for of sexual minorities than their parents and grandparents are.

Perhaps a good indication of the age gap was shown in the CNN exit polls for California's "Prop 8" vote in 2008-NOV. It narrowly passed (52% vs 48%) and had the effect of terminating new SSMs in the state -- at least temporarily. Proposition 8 -- often referred to as "Proposition Hate" -- was later overturned by a court. The polls showed that:

bullet 64% of voters aged 18 to 24 said that they voted against Prop 8, and in favor of SSM.
bullet 59% of those 25 to 29 agreed.

bullet 55% of those aged 30 to 44 said that they voted for Prop 8, and against marriage equality.
bullet 54% aged 45 to 64 agreed.
bullet 61% of those 65 and older agreed. 1

A good indication of overall trends and the age gap is shown by a Sienna College Research Institute poll of registered voters in New York state during 2011-APR. New York is a relatively liberal state. They found:

bullet 74% of voters aged 18 to 34 said that they supported SSM.

bullet 63% of those 35 to 54 agreed.

bullet 45% of those aged 55 and older suppored SSM; 46% were opposed

Back in 2009, an article in this web site predicted:

"If current trends continue, the number of American adults supporting SSM will exceed the number of adults opposed to SSM by the year 2012."

Our projection was slightly in error. Some polls in the year 2010 already started to show that a majority of American adults favored SSM. These trends have continued with national polls showing support for SSM increasing between 1 and 2 percentage points per year, and opposition falling by about the same amount.

Wikipedia reports that:

  • From 1988 to 2009, support for same-sex marriage increased between 1% and 1.5% per year and accelerated thereafter.
  • As of 2016, 83% of Americans aged 18–29 support same-sex marriage.
  • As of 2017, there is majority support for same-sex marriage in 44 states, plurality support in 4 states, plurality opposition in 1 state [Mississippi], and majority opposition in 1 state [Alabama]. 8

Aamer Madhani, writing for USA Today on 2018-MAY-23, wrote an article titled: "Approval of same-sex marriage in U.S. reaches new high." He reported on a recently released Gallup "Values and Morals" poll that showed 67% of U.S. adults supporting same-sex marriage -- more than 2 out of 3. Each of their three previous national surveys showed continuous increases. Opinion has come a long way since 1996 when their first poll showed that only 27% supported gay marriages. The poll found that:

  • 83% of Democrats, 44% of Republicans, and 71% of independents supported SSM.

In previous polls, Gallup found that:

  • 4.5% of U.S. adults identified themselves in 2017 as belonging to the LGBT community. This compares to 4.1% in 2016 and 3.5% in 2012.

  • 8.1% of U.S. millennials -- those borm between 1980 and 1999 -- identified themselves in 2017 as belonging to the LGBT community. This compares to 7.3% in 2016 and 5.8% in 2012.

  • In reality, Gallup is probably not measuring growth in the size of the community in the U.S. The continual rise is probably caused by an increasing percentage of members of the LGBT community willing to admit the truth of their sexual orientation or gender identity to a stranger over the phone who claims to be from a polling agency.

The poll's margin of error is ~+mn~4 percentage points.

Canadian public opinion surveys have shown that most adults in that country accept SSM as a fundamental human right. Support for SSM has continued to increase since mid-2005 when SSMs were legalized across the entire country -- ten provinces and three territories. A 2017 CROP poll found that 74% of Canadian adults found it:

"... great that in Canada, two people of the same sex can get married". 26% disagreed.

Reference used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. California Proposition 8: Ban on Gay Marriage, CNN News, at: http://edition.cnn.com/
  2. "Prenatal hormones and sexual orientation," Wikipedia, as on 2018-OCT-27, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/
  3. "Changing Attitudes on Gay Marriage," Pew Research, 2017-JUN-26, at: http://www.pewforum.org/
  4. "Support for Same-Sex Marriage Grows, Even Among Groups That Had Been Skeptical," Pew Research Center, 2017-JUN-26, at: http://www.people-press.org/
  5. "The Percentage of Americans That Actually Support Same-Sex Marriage Will Surprise You," OUT magazine, 2018-MAY-24, at: https://www.out.com/
  6. "Public opinion of same-sex marriage in the United States," Wikipedia, as on 2018-NOV-21, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/
  7. Lisa Keen, "Minnesota: Where the push for a marriage license began "
  8. "Same-sex marriage in the United States," Wikipedia, as of at: https://en.wikipedia.org/


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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. California Proposition 8: Ban on Gay Marriage, CNN News, at: http://edition.cnn.com/
  2. "Prenatal hormones and sexual orientation," Wikipedia, as on 2018-OCT-27, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/
  3. "Changing Attitudes on Gay Marriage," Pew Research, 2017-JUN-26, at: http://www.pewforum.org/
  4. "Support for Same-Sex Marriage Grows, Even Among Groups That Had Been Skeptical," Pew Research Center, 2017-JUN-26, at: http://www.people-press.org/
  5. "The Percentage of Americans That Actually Support Same-Sex Marriage Will Surprise You," OUT magazine, 2018-MAY-24, at: https://www.out.com/
  6. "Public opinoin of same-sex marriage in the United States," Wikipedia, as on 2018-NOV-21, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/
  7. "Same-sex marriage in Canada," Wikipedia, as on 2018-NOV-23, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/

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Copyright 1996 to 2018 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Last updated 2018-NOV-23

Author: Bruce A Robinson

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