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Public opinion polls on lesbian. gay,
bisexual, & transgender (LGBT) matters

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Quotations, definitions, overview, and trends
affecting lesbians, gays, and bisexuals (LGBs)


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Quotations:

bullet "The center is shifting because millions of 'Dick Cheneys,' people in the middle who might prefer not to think about the rights of gays and lesbians, one day see the issue indelibly stamped with the faces of their daughters, sons, neighbors and friends." Margorie Williams, 2000-OCT-13, Washington Post.
 
bullet "[homosexuals are] brute beasts...part of a vile and satanic system [that] will be utterly annihilated, and there will be a celebration in heaven." Jerry Falwell (1933-2007), calling for genocide during 1984-MAR.
 
bullet "You can safely assume that you've created God in your own image, when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do." Anne Lamott

Definitions used in this section:

Where the definition used by religious conservatives conflicts with that used by religious liberals, the LGBT community, human sexuality researchers and mental health professionals, we use the latter term.

  • LGB or GLB: an acronym referring to lesbians, gays and bisexuals.

  • LGBT or GLBT: an acronym referring to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and transsexual communities. Sometimes suffixes are added, like "Q" for Queer or Questioning, "I" for Intersexual, etc.

  • Homosexual: A person who is sexually attracted only to members of the same gender; one of three sexual orientations.

  • Heterosexual: A person who is sexually attracted only to members of the opposite gender; one of three sexual orientations.

  • Bisexual: A person who is sexually attracted to both men and women, although not necessarily to the same degree; one of three sexual orientations.

  • Transgender: There is no consensus on the meaning of this term. We use: An individual whose birth-assigned gender is in conflict with their perceived gender. The term "transgender" is preferred over "transgendered."

  • Transsexual: There is no consensus on the meaning of this term. We use: An transgender individual who presents themselves as having a gender different from their birth-assigned gender. For example a MTF transsexual was identified as a male at birth, and now lives as a woman.

  • Cisgendered: A person whose birth-assigned gender matches their perceived gender. This includes the vast majority of adults.

For additional definitions and greater detail, see our glossary of terms related to transgender persons and transsexuals and to sexual topics generally.

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Overview:

During certian intervals over the past history of the U.S., from colonial times to now, various groups have been oppressed in the U.S.: Some were:

  • Non-land owners who were denied the vote,

  • African-Americans were denied the right to marry,

  • African-Americans and Native Americans were enslaved,

  • During the early 19th century, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- the Mormons -- were oppressed and sometimes slaughtered,

  • During the late 19th century, Roman Catholics were heavily oppressed,

  • During the late 19th century and early 20th century, deaf couples in some states were denied the right to marry,

  • Women were denied the vote until the early 20th century,

  • Inter-faith and inter-racial couples were denied access to marriage, and

  • African-Americans suffered under racial segregation.

Each group fought for and has gradually approached or achieved equal rights, although racism, sexism, and xenophobia are still widespread evils in the country.

It is reasonable to expect that LGBTs will follow the same path over the next decade or so. The ultimate recognition of homosexual attraction as normal and natural for a minority of people has ocurred in various states when marriage has been redefined to include loving, committed same-sex couples. As of 2013, this has been achieved in the District of Columbia, and in nine states, starting with Massachusetts in 2004-MAY.

Public opinion polls have encouraged some organizations to ask for plebiscites or public initiatives on matters like same-sex marriage (SSM). Their thinking is that taking those special rights that have been traditionally reserved only for heterosexuals and either extending them or denying them to homosexuals should be determined by a simple majority vote by the public. Their rationale is that if 50% plus one person is in favor of equal rights for gays and lesbians, then the latter should receive the rights. Otherwise, not. This belief establishes a very dangerous precedent. If the state can deny any minority certain rights, then no fundamental human rights are really safe for anyone. After all, every American is a member of at least one minority group.

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Trends:

During the first half of the 20th century, most religious leaders, psychiatrists, psychologists, and the general population looked upon LGB persons as disordered, mentally ill, perverts, and often criminals. During the 1950's human sexuality researcher Evelyn Hooker noted that previous studies of GLBs had been done either in prison among inmates, or in psychiatrists offices among clients. She decided to study lesbians and gays in normal life. She determined that the standard tests to detect mental disturbance and illness could not differentiate between persons with a homosexual or heterosexual orientation. A decade later, the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its lists of mental illnesses. Many other mental health professional associations have since followed the same path.

In 1968 a riot occurred in the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York City when the police made a routine raid. This is "... widely considered to be the single most important event leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for gay and lesbian rights in the United States." 1

As of early 2013, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons and transsexuals have made major strides in the U.S. recently towards equality with the heterosexual and cisgendered majority. (The term "cisgendered" refers to the vast majority of persons whose assigned gender at birth matches their perceived gender). Some of the major changes include:

  • In 2003-JUN, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the lawsuit Lawrence v. Texas that adults may legally engage in private, consensual, sexual behavior. This protects persons of all three sexual orientations equally.

  • In 2004-MAY, all loving, committed couples who were residents of Massachusetts and were of a sufficient age and not too closely genetically related were allowed to marry; this includes both same-sex and opposite-sex couples.

  • In 2009-OCT, an existing federal hate-crime law was extended to include four additional criteria: every American gained protection from physical violence motivated by hatred of their gender (male, female, or intersexual), disability level, sexual orientation (bisexual, homosexual or heterosexual) and gender identity (transgender or cisgendered).

  • In 2010-APR. President Obama signed an executive order that instructs almost all hospitals in the U.S. to honor the wishes of patients' same-sex partners.

  • In 2010-DEC, President Obama signed into law a bill to start a process that eventually ended the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy during 2011-SEP. That policy prevented homosexual service members from being open about their sexual orientation.

  • In 2011-JUL a law became effective to allow same-sex couples to marry in New York State.

  • On election day in 2012, same-sex marriages were legalized by public referendums in three states: Maine, New Hampshire and Washington State. On the same day a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in Minnesota failed.

These changes in the law were made possible by an increasing acceptance of LGBTs in society. In turn, the laws themselves and the debate leading to their passage caused an acceleration in the acceptance of the LGBT community.

As of early 2003, there are four main immediate battles ahead in the LGBT's drive towards equality:

  • To pass a federal Employment Non-Discrimination law (ENDA) that would protect the jobs of LGBT persons from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

  • To withdraw the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) either through legislative action in Congress, or by having it declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. DOMA prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages even after couples are legally married in their own state. Various federal District Courts and two U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal have determined that the DOMA law violates multiple clauses of the U.S. Constitution and is thus clearly unconstitutional. As of early 2013, three cases have been appealed to that court, and one, Windsor v. United States has been accepted. Oral arguments will be heard in late 2013-MAR. The court's ruling is expected in 2013-JUN.

  • To have Proposition 8 declared unconstitutional. In 2008-MAY, the Supreme Court of California legalized same-sex marriage. In November of that yeara citizen initiative "Prop. 8" narrowly passed. It terminated future same-sex marriages. Prop 8 has been declared unconstitutional by a federal District Court, by a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and by the full Court. It has been accepted for review by the U.S. Supreme Court which will hear oral arguments in late 2013-MAR, and should issue their ruling in late 2013-JUN.

  • To modify laws of 40 additional states to allow same-sex couples to marry anywhere in the U.S. During early 2013, only 9 states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriage (SSM). A similar number of states have made civil unions available that grant same-sex couples all of the state's privileges, rights and protections of marriage without being able to refer to their relationship as a marriage.

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This topic continues in the next essay

References used:

The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Stonewall Inn, Wikipedia, as updated on 2011-JUN-28 at: http://en.wikipedia.org/

Site navigation: Home > "Hot" religious topics > Homosexuality > Basic data > Polls > here

Copyright © 2001 to 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2001-JUL-30
Latest update: 2013-MAR-11
Author: B.A. Robinson

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