Comment: Changing attitudes to gays

CNN has issued a number of opinion polls in the past. Their questionnaires touch on topics like the presidential candidates, terrorism and climate change. Homosexuality is another topic they have issued surveys on in the past years.

The results of this year’s CNN opinion polls on Homosexuality and Gay Rights were published today. And what seems to promise a ‘rosy future’ for US-American attitude towards gays and lesbians, has to be considered with caution.

One has to bear in mind that the positive results of the polls are based on a sample of just over 500 respondents, and that the CNN client group consists of people interested in the news and politics to start with – i.e. the poll is not representative of the opinion of the average US citizen.

At the same time, the polls offer some interesting figures, especially when considered in comparison to earlier surveys, and could indicate a change in attitude.

For the first time, a majority of respondents believe that homosexuals cannot change their sexual orientation even if they wanted to.

In 1998 only 36% held that belief.

This trend can regarded as positive because it probably means that less people think gay men and women should be “corrected” or “cured” in order to make them “normal.”

What the trend does not suggest is a greater acceptance of homosexuality.

Regarding the acceptance of gays and lesbians, the answers to questions on the rights that should be granted to homosexuals are more telling.

A very positive message seems to be the fact that 79% are in favour of openly gay or lesbians being admitted to the military, which at present still has a `don’t ask, don’t tell` policy.

Less than half the people interviewed – 42% – support the idea of gay-marriage or civil-unions while an interestingly great number of people – 57% – believe that gays and lesbians should have the right to adopt children.

Unfortunately CNN does not suggest any reasons for why people would support adoption rights but not the right to equal rights on partnership issues.

Whatever the reasons, let’s hope the trend continues in the direction it does at the moment and let’s hope it will have a trickle down effect on the opinions of all US-citizens who do are not CNN consumers.