Originally published on Advocate.com November 19 2003 12:00 AM ET
The public is evenly divided on whether gays and lesbians can alter their sexual orientation, with white evangelicals the most likely to think gay people can change, a poll released Tuesday found. In another finding, most Americans, 55%, said they felt homosexuality is a sin, while 33% do not. Nine in 10 highly committed white evangelicals and nearly three quarters of black Protestants said homosexual behavior is sinful.
"Evangelicals are far more likely to say homosexuals can change, Catholics and mainline Protestants fall in the middle, and more secular people are most likely to say they cannot change," said Scott Keeter, a pollster with the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, which conducted the survey on
attitudes about gay men and lesbians. The poll's figures: Overall, 42% said gay people can change, 42% said they cannot, and 16% said they didn't know. Among evangelicals it was 65%-22% saying gay people can change; among Catholics and mainline Protestants, it was 57%-29% and 48%-31%, respectively, saying they cannot.
The poll also found that opposition to gay marriage has grown since midsummer, with 32% favoring it and 59% opposing it. In July, 53% said they opposed gay marriage.