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Poll shows revolution in views on gays

Written by Peter Smith on .

If the personal is political, as they say, then the sexual revolution is indeed a revolution. That was in evidence in Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's veto of a bill that would have effectively allowed business owners a stronger legal defense if they refused to provide services to same-sex couples.

It wasn't that long ago that such legislation would have been a sure winner. Now it's a loser even in a state like Arizona, whose immigration laws have hardly lent it an air of political correctness.

We also noted recently that a federal judge in Kentucky said attitudes against homosexuality may become as anachronistic as those justifying legal discrimination against racial minorities and women. That's happening sooner rather than later.

A new poll shows as much. Taken by the Public Religion Research Institute, it shows how a solid majority of Americans now support same-sex marriage, whereas more than two-thirds opposed it back in 2003 when Massachusetts was legalizing it under court order. In Pennsylvania, 61 percent support same-sex marriage, mirroring other recent surveys.

The poll would indicate that conservative groups, both political and religious, are paying a price for their historic opposition (if not outright hostility) to gays and lesbians. Gay marriage is looked on more favorably by younger adults (though it's growing among all age groups), and people tend to perceive Catholic, Mormon and evangelical churches as especially unfriendly to gays and lesbians. Of those who left their childhood religion, a quarter said it was partly because of their religions' treatment of gays, and the figure is higher among younger adults, who are also more secular. Something to consider as liberal churches, who have long debated and finally approved ordaining gays, begin to consider endorsing same-sex marriage. Such proposals are coming before the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s General Assembly this June.

Certainly many conservative churches feel they have to take the stand they do on eternal principles rather than poll results, but the results do show the price they're paying at least in terms of public perception. One could also point out that the liberal churches who are most open to gays are actually suffering some of the worst membership losses.


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