Plus: 2 out of 10 Americans view gays more favorably than they did 10 years ago

Anti-Gay Legislation Won Because of Politics, Not Attitudes (Says GLAAD)

QUEERTY REPORTS — “The losses we suffered are political, which are not as predictable as poll results are– or as manageable”, Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) President Neil Giuliano told Queerty this afternoon after the release of a GLAAD-commissioned Harris Interactive survey that showed widespread support for gay & lesbian rights and issues across a variety of demographics.

The telephone survey, which reached a little over 2,000 Americans after the election last month, showed that three out of four Americans support either civil unions or marriages for gays and lesbians and that for the first time, opposition against gay marriage fell below the 50% mark. Support for repealing the military’s Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell policy is even more widespread at 64%, with support in Latino support for overturning the ban especially high. African Americans supported increasing hate crimes legislation to include LGBT people by the widest margin, at 71%. The survey also found that 7 in 10 Americans oppose gay adoption bans.

Giuliano says that GLAAD decided to commission the survey before the election, knowing that there would be pointed reactions no matter what the outcome was. It was the first time the organization commissioned a survey and Giuliano says that the reason the organization stepped into the fray was so that they “could help correct the post-election narrative.”

For Giuliano, the most important revelation found in the survey is that 2 out of every 10 Americans have more favorable views of gays and lesbians then they did five years ago. The study notes that the reasons for this shift include “knowing someone who is gay or lesbian (79%)” and “the fact that laws have been passed to protect gays and lesbians (50%).” Giuliano believes the poll sets a clear course for the gay community and that “It says what’s important is being visible, living honestly and talking to our friends, co-workers and families.”

So why wasn’t the rosy picture painted by the survey reflected in the results of the November election? “It shows the power of negative campaigning against the community…We have to increase our visibility. We have to work with African-American and Latino leaders and enlist more allies. This poll shows we have the opening.”

Giuliano also points to the rapidly shifting attitudes Americans have towards gay marriage. “We’ve made progress on marriage. 47% are for it. 49% are not. That’s the first time in any poll opposition to gay marriage has fallen below the all important 50 + 1 mark.”

Giuliano dismisses the idea that there could be a “gay Bradley effect” at work in the poll; that is, that respondents would be more likely to say they supported gay and lesbians on the phone and then vote against LGBT interests at the voting booth.” “The folks at Harris Interactive have been doing polling for a long time and are known for delivering credible results. The poll has a margin of 2%. I would say these are solid numbers.”

[Full results of the survey are available in PDF form here.]

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  • Smokey Martini

    The findings should read: Three out of four Americans (who picked up their phones and decided to follow through with our survey dealing with gay and transgender people in the US) support either civil unions or marriages for gays and lesbians…

    Tsk tsk, GLAAD. You should know better!

    And I don’t particularly find it fair that the demographic is divided into three racial/ethnic categories: White, African-American, and Hispanic. I wonder what they did with all the South and East Asian respondents?

    No wonder the organization does so little to fight the misrepresentation of GLBT people in the media, and elsewhere. Their findings are so skewed that it seems the gay community in the US is much better off than it actually is!

  • The Gay Numbers

    The point is that if you don’t show up and you leave a vacuum, then the smears from the right will fill that void.

  • Smokey Martini

    So yeah, I don’t think the gay Bradley effect accounted for the tremendous disconnect between the findings here and what happened on Nov. 4th. Well, maybe to a small degree, but much of it has to do with faulty methodology.

    Where are these researchers coming from?!

  • chuck

    GLAAD President Says Anti-Gay Legislation Won Because of Politics, Not Attitudes

    What a crock of double-speak. If everyone in America thinks gay is okay, they why the fuck did everyone vote against Prop. 8?

    And what will they tell us next, that money also had nothing to do with it?

    These people, like HRC are covering their own asses and making sure that their salary checks continue to be written every Friday, whether they actually do anything for the gay community or not.

    Parasites! They exist solely because of our woes and have no desire to see their need end.

    Someone once said that “A bureaucracy, once created, continues to exist long after the need for it has passed.”

    ‘Nuff said.

  • Bob Witeck

    Just curious, has anyone who commented here read the full report? For complete disclosure and transparency, I had zero to do with the survey, its design or execution — but I do partner closely with Harris Interactive over the past decade, and am supporting GLAAD’s release of this study as well.

    It is a valuable contribution to our understanding of American opinions at this critical time.

    Having read the study, there is zero disconnect between the attitudes measured here and the ballot outcomes on November 4. On Prop 8, and in other ballot measures, the choice is between yes or no, up or down, and voters must decide to approve marriage equality or defeat it. No middle ground.

    The poll echoes this, but offers respondents another choice — civil unions or some other forms of legal recognition.

    The exit polls frequently show the same thing (as they did in 2004), that when the public has a range of options, including marriage, by healthy majorities they support fairness and some measures of equal treatment, and a growing number support marriage equality.

    We don’t have full U.S. support on marriage equality, yet, but we are closing in faster than any one could have predicted in 2000. The trends show and they matter.

    Please take a few minutes to read and understand the findings and implications. All POVs welcome and encouraged, but the knowledge here is valuable to us all.


    Bob Witeck

  • Matt

    So 8 out of 10 still hate us. Good to know.

  • Smokey Martini

    @Bob Witeck:

    Hi Bob,

    I completely understand what you’re trying to get at when you write that the offering of gay partnerships/ civil unions in the study allows for a “middle ground” that was not available on the Prop 8 ballot. However, the findings STILL fail to reflection what, exactly, happened the night of November 4th. Support for Prop 8 was still greater than not, which goes against the poll’s finding.

    According to the study, domestic partnerships and/or civil union recognition raked in 38% over the phone. This is great! However, let’s say half of those people (19%) voted YES on Prop 8 and half of them (19%) voted NO. The total numbers would STILL not be reflective of the Prop 8 outcome.

    According to the poll, this would leave us with 41% voting YES (as opposed to the 52.3% who actually did) and 57% voting NO (as opposed to the 47.7% who actually did). This shows that ther is about a ten-point discrepancy that, quite frankly, would have made ALL THE DIFFERENCE on Prop 8’s passing. So I don’t quite understand where you are saying that there is “zero disconnect” between what this poll says and what actually happened.

    OBVIOUSLY, a lot more people who were on the fence (supposedly, those in support or partnerships or unions) voted against marriage. Surely, it could also be attributed to the Bradley effect, where they voted in favour of partnerships or civil unions (but not its banning) as the lesser of the two evils. You know, to appear less discriminatory to the researchers. However, I feel that it has a lot more to do with the way in which the polling was done.

    What I want to know is how many phone calls were made IN TOTAL throughout the study. Because, as researchers should *always* point out: the opinions of the people who decided not to participate in the study (i.e. because they did not support ANY equality for gays or lesbians and/or think homosexuals are an abomination) are just as important as the opinions of those who did. Those, in other words, who have SOME tolerance for homosexuality and are able to see homosexuals as persons worthy of some respect.

    I guess what I’m saying is that the ONLY thing this poll makes evident is that far more anti-gay people were willing to vote in the passing of Prop 8 – precisely because they opposed same-sex marriage or gay rights in general – than they were to participate in this poll.

  • Bob Witeck

    @Smokey Martini:

    Thanks — intriguing, but there is one overriding gap that you didn’t mention. Only Californians voted on Prop 8; the poll was conducted of the entire nation not just Californians. The two samples are not the same, Smokey.

    I can happily send you basic methodology about standard telephone RDD sampling — the tools/rules are basically the same. Most phone pollsters must make between 5, 000 to 20,000 or more phone calls to get 2,000 completes — depending on many predictable factors.

    That said, when the data is gathered with 2,000 RDD respondents, the data then is weighted scientifically against the U.S. population (age, education, geography, income, race, ethnicity) so that it is a representative sample within a reasonable margin of error. This is not rocket science but truly imperfect, of course, since it does not sample all Americans just a cross-section. That is what a poll does.

    If it is polls in general that are hazardous to tread, I know of what you speak, so would point you to — the National Council of Public Polls which describes standards used by legitimate pollsters in conducting RDD methods by telephone. It’s got some excellent content, Smokey.



    P.S. Matt, please do read the full report! 8 out of 10 don’t still hate us. Neil’s point, well and accurately taken, is that some folks (2 out of 10) now have more favorable views about us — many others already did. He is using the data to support the trends towards acceptance, nothing more or less. Just read the report.

  • The Gay Numbers

    Maybe what the poll tells us is there are a lot of persuadable voters, but that No on 8 failed to persuade them.

    In the Brigg Initiative, the gay community fought hard.

    But here, we left a void that the right filled. Maybe the point is that if we persuade we can win, and that if we do not persuade, we lose? Remember that prop 8 passed right on the border between failing and passing. How many of those voters in the middle were lost because we did not push hard enough to have our message heard in concrete ways?


    @Smokey Martini: You can’t split it that way: the ones who support civil unions or whatever but not marriage *do not support marriage*, so you cannot reasonably assume half of them would vote for marriage, especially in a state that has a civil union option already. Looked at that way, the vote on Prop 8 shows more support for actual gay marriage than the nationwide poll does, which makes sense.

  • Cam

    What they are saying is sort of like saying “Oh, people who join the KKK aren’t racist, it’s just that the Klan has good marketing”

  • dalea

    No on 8 ran a dreadful campaign. They were practically invisible until the end. Most liberal energy, time and money went into the Obama campaign. When I asked people to phone bank for us, the answer they were already calling Indiana or wherever for Obama. And all their money went to Obama. The No on 8 leaders decided against using handout literature. They did not have any information in Spanish or Asian languages in a state where 47% of residents are in these communities. We were forbidden to go door to door. Same with setting up booths at grocery stores etc. No on 8 did no voter registration or GOTV. Amazingly, given the complete ineptness of No on 8, we carried a majority of white voters, and a majority of non-evangelical Asian and Latino voters.

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