Support for LGBT Rights on the Rise in Conservative America

By admin

Originally published on Advocate.com July 25 2011 4:35 PM ET

Research released Monday on national attitudes regarding LGBT rights finds a slim majority in favor of marriage equality, yet a solid consensus on employment protections and adoption rights.

People in areas of the country with the least LGBT protections also appear to be more progressive than their elected officials, according to the recent survey, conducted by Anna Greenberg of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and commissioned by the Human Rights Campaign. Seventy-three percent of respondents in the South, for example, said they support employment protections for LGBT people, even though the vast majority of the region lacks state statutes banning such discrimination (78% of Midwest residents polled also support employment protections).

The national survey of 900 adults found 51% support for marriage rights; 58% further favor extending equal federal benefits to same-sex couples who have married in states where it's legal to do so. (Click here for a poll summary.)

Perhaps most topical, given recent news on the 2012 presidential campaign trail, the survey found that only 24% of those polled believed that prayer-focused "reparative therapy" could change a person’s sexual orientation.

Widespread dismissal of the controversial form of therapy tracks consensus in the medical and mental health establishments: The American Psychological Association, for example, passed a 2009 resolution advising mental health professionals to avoid telling clients that sexual orientation can be changed through therapeutic methods.

The survey kicks off an HRC 17-city tour beginning August 12 in Salt Lake City and continuing through states with some of the least protections for LGBT people in the nation.

HRC spokesman Michael Cole-Schwartz said the bus tour will focus on what LGBT individuals can do to protect themselves and their families, such as drafting medical decision documents, advocating for domestic-partner benefits with an employer, and lobbying for antibullying curriculum in schools. LGBT experts involved in the tour will include Family Acceptance Project director Caitlin Ryan, who will participate in Salt Lake City and Omaha events.

“We are in the midst of a cultural tipping point on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues, and our job is to push the scale as far and as fast as we can toward fairness,” HRC president Joe Solmonese said Monday of the tour, which ends October 30 in Orlando, Fla. (info on the campaign available here).

Multiple mainstream polls have indicated that cultural tipping point on marriage equality in the past year. According to an ABC News/Washington Post survey in March, 53% of Americans said that gays should have the right to marry — a double-digit shift in support from an identical poll in 2006.