Gays Are Born That Way, Say Most Americans
For the first time, a Gallup poll has found that a majority of Americans believe sexual orientation is an inborn trait, rather than being determined by environment or upbringing.
The national poll of 1,024 adults living in all 50 states and Washington, DC, was conducted from May 6-10, 2015. 51% of respondents said they think gays and lesbians are born with their sexual orientation, while 30% disagreed. The US population’s views on the issue have changed considerably from several decades ago, when a clear majority of Americans believed homosexuality was a result of nurture rather than nature. In 1978, only 13% of Americans said sexual orientation is inborn.
The poll was also the first instance when Gallup found Republicans evenly split on the question. 40% of Republicans said gays and lesbians were born that way, and 36% attributed sexual orientation to environment or upbringing, with the difference being within the margin of error. A clear majority of Democrats (62%) believe homosexuality is innate, while 24% believe it is acquired or chosen.
Both the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association have said that the origin of sexual orientation is as yet unknown. The latter stated on its website that “There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay or lesbian orientation,” although they also stated that “most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.”
As people’s views on the origin of sexual orientation has changed, so have their opinions about gay people’s behavior and rights, according to Gallup’s polling. A decade ago, 51% of Americans said same-sex relations are “morally wrong,” while 45% said they are “morally acceptable.” This latest poll showed that 63% now believe gay and lesbian relations are morally sound, with 34% still saying they are immoral.
As the US Supreme Court weighs the legality of same-sex marriage following its hearing of Obergefell v. Hodges in April, Gallup found a record level of support for legal gay marriage among Americans: 60% are now in favor, while 37% are opposed. The Court is expected to reach a decision on whether or not gay marriage is to become legal in all 50 states by the end of June.
Gallup speculated that the “recent trends toward Americans’ increasing acceptance of gays and lesbians still show no sign of leveling off, and should continue to rise in the future,” based on the organization’s findings that younger Americans approve of same-sex relations in greater numbers than older Americans.
Jeffrey M. Jones, “Majority in U.S. Now Say Gays and Lesbians Born, Not Made,” gallup.com, May 20, 2015
Justin McCarthy, “Record-High 60% of Americans Support Same-Sex Marriage,” gallup.com, May 19, 2015
Hayley Miller, “Born This Way: New Poll Finds Increase in Americans’ Understanding of Sexual Orientation,” hrc.org, May 20, 2015
Hunter Schwarz, “A Majority of Americans Now Think Gays Are Born That Way. That Says a Lot about Same-Sex Marriage,” washingtonpost.com, May 21, 2015