survey says

When Polling Americans, It Matters If You Call Gay Soldiers By Their Clinical Name: Homosexuals

While both Sec. Gates and Adm. Mullen used the term “homosexuals” to describe gay people in the military, the GLAAD-approved way to refer to men and women who have sex with the same sex is “gays and lesbians.” Turns out, obviously, that it makes a difference when you conduct Don’t Ask Don’t Tell polling.

A CBS News/New York Times poll that specifically focused on the language used in other polls finds that “homosexuals” are less deserving of serving openly, but “gay men and lesbians” receive much broader support.

And wording also affects how people think about homos serving in the military at all.

But no matter how you phrase things, the overall trend: more Americans support repealing DADT now than ever before.

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  • believe

    The word sex is still that word which can destroy people’s logic. I’m convinced that is the only reason why the responder’s had such a disconnect when answering both questions.
    Also, why on earth should we care what straight people think when they can’t even – THINK !!

  • B

    No. 1 · ‘believe’ wrote “The word sex is still that word which can destroy people’s logic.” … let me suggest a different reason. The word “homo”, at least in the past, has been used as a playground insult among adolescents, giving the word a psychologically negative connotation that “gay” does not have.

    When the polling company calls some straight guy during dinner (that’s when they alwasys seem to call), with the kids screaming in the background and his wife complaining that he isn’t helping enough with the housework, and he hears a word staring with “homo”, what tends to pop into his distracted head is an image of some unfortunate kid they used to regularly abuse verbally.

  • Brian NYC

    National polls don’t matter. State polls matter. That’s what determines how a US Senator will vote – his/her constituents.

  • thomesings

    @B: Where did you go to school that “gay” was not used as a catch-all derogatory term?

  • anyway

    I think it was a Jay Leno man-on-the-street bit many years ago where he asked people if they knew of or what they thought about “heterosexuals”.

    The joke was that so many people assumed he was talking about gay people.

    Go do a survey to find out what people think about “heterosexuals” serving openly in the military and come back to me with the results.

  • B

    No. 4 · thomesings wrote, “@B: Where did you go to school that “gay” was not used as a catch-all derogatory term?”

    … it’s not “where” but “when”. It’s use as a “catch-all derogatory term” is a relatively recent change in word usage.

    And don’t forget that opposition to repealing DADT is worse the older the respondents are on the average.

  • PopSnap

    “Homosexual” is the new “Negro”. It’s outddated, archaic, and sounds like an elitist rich white straight man word.

  • hyhybt

    @thomesings: I don’t remember ever hearing ‘gay’ in school. ‘Homosexual’ sometimes, ‘faggot’ fairly often, ‘butt buddy’ occasionally, and even ‘queer as a football bat,’ but not ‘gay.’

  • B

    No. 7 · PopSnap wrote, ‘”Homosexual” is the new “Negro”.’ … not really – it is merely a technical term. We also have “heterosexual”, “bisexual”, “asexual”, etc. The reason for using such terminology is that it makes literature searches easier – you don’t want to have to look for “gay” for papers written after 2010 and “homosexual” for ones before 2010, particularly since “gay” might become outdated some years from now.

    Getting back to comment # 6, I was fairly terse. To add a few more details, there are quite a few voters who went through their formative years before “gay” was widely used. The word “gay” wasn’t widely by the general public until we reached the point where prejudice started to decline. But generally support for DADT grows with age, so the “likely voters” who are in favor of DADT have a mean age higher than those in favor of ending DADT. Over the course of their lifespan, older voters are likely to have heard far more negative statements about “homosexuals” than about “gays”. While both words refer to the same group, their emotional response may be keyed more to the word than what the word represents.

  • Bubba in TX

    Almost always, when anti-gay conservatives talk about gays and lesbians (in the military, getting married, etc.), they refer to us as “homosexuals”. This is because THEY KNOW it conjures up images of men having sex with men and women having sex with women (although some straight men would love to imagine that last part).

    Many moderates and liberals who are otherwise pretty accepting of gay and lesbians and our civil rights still don’t want to imagine us getting it on with each other. Therefore, one way to get otherwise accepting people to vote against us is to use the term that makes them imagine stuff that (in some cases) grosses them out.

    It’s simple psychology.

  • Brian

    @Bubba in TX: They use the word homosexual because it is the word they were taught by religion.

  • dvlaries

    Well, you know, prejudice is amazingly democratic and it can be difficult for any one person to keep all theirs sorted.

    wonkette ran this article today too, and I love it. You couldn’t ask for a more crystal-clear microcosm of the very stupidity that helped Bush into two terms of office. These same respondents are surely Sarah Palin’s public today.

  • missanthorpe

    “”Homosexual” is the new “Negro”. It’s outddated, archaic, and sounds like an elitist rich white straight man word.”

    I agree. I feel kinda ill whenever I hear it.

  • Sam

    “Homosexual,” first of all, makes people think “SEX” and specifically makes people think of gay men having sex. “Gay men and lesbians” sounds softer, more human (“gay MEN” instead of “gays” or “homosexuals”), and it includes lesbians, which fewer straight people are scared of.

  • pogobock

    This is all Obama’s fault.

  • B

    No. 11 · Brian wrote, “@Bubba in TX: They use the word homosexual because it is the word they were taught by religion.” … no Brian, that is most likely not the reason. Support for DADT grows with age, with lots of opposition from the geriatric set. And for those people, during their formative years the word “gay” was not widely used to mean “homosexual”. Otherwise, popular films like “The Gay Divorcee” would have needed a different title. People in favor of DADT often use the word “homosexual” because that is the one they know. Think of John McCain.

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