- 53% say new anti-discrimination laws are needed; 46% say they are not
- Americans perceive the public as being more accepting of gay relations
This article is the second in a monthlong series on Americans' views about LGBT issues. Gallup will release new findings every Thursday in June. Gallup's trends, including some extending back four decades, can be found here.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A slight majority of Americans (53%) say that new civil rights laws are needed to reduce discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. This comes one month after the House of Representatives passed the Equality Act, which would protect LGBT people from discrimination in employment, housing and other settings.
|Yes, new laws needed||No, not needed||No opinion|
|May 15-30, 2019||53||46||1|
|May 3-7, 2017||51||46||3|
The House legislation, which was passed two days into Gallup's May 15-30 polling on this question, is unlikely to be taken up by the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate. President Donald Trump has also signaled that he opposes the bill.
Gallup found similar support for new LGBT civil rights laws when it polled this question in 2017. Then, like now, Republicans were least supportive of these laws, with 27% in both years saying that new laws were needed. Democrats, meanwhile, are now nearly three times as likely as Republicans to support such laws, with the current 74% up from 67% in 2017. Small majorities of independents have supported this kind of legislation in both polls (56% in 2017 and 55% in 2019).
While many Americans oppose new civil rights laws, they are highly supportive of ensuring LGBT individuals have equal employment opportunities -- with 93% holding this view in a separate question asked in the same May 15-30 poll.
Small Majority Says Gay Relations Are Viewed as Acceptable in the U.S.
As Americans' own attitudes about gay people have undergone major shifts in the past few decades, so too have their perceptions of how others think. The current 55% of U.S. adults who say they believe that most Americans feel same-sex relations are acceptable is more than twice as high as the 21% found in 2001, the only other time Gallup has asked this question.
Interestingly, Americans are less likely to perceive acceptance of gay and lesbian relations than they are to personally view same-sex relations as moral (63%) or to say they should be legal (83%). This suggests there is a disconnect between how Americans actually feel about same-sex relations and what they believe others think.
|Acceptable||Not acceptable||Other/No opinion|
|May 15-30, 2019||55||41||4|
|May 10-14, 2001||21||74||5|
Perceptions of Gay Acceptance Up by Double Digits Among Subgroups
In 2001, minorities of Americans among all subgroups perceived the public as seeing gay or lesbian relations as acceptable. But since then, perceptions of Americans' acceptance of same-sex relations have grown considerably among all major subgroups.
Across each age group and political party identification, perceptions of acceptance have increased by at least 30 percentage points, with majorities of 52% to 57% now saying that most Americans view same-sex relations as acceptable.
Perceptions of acceptance have risen among men and women too -- though today, more men (62%) than women (48%) believe that gay or lesbian relations are accepted. Men hold this belief of greater acceptance of gay relations despite women having been historically slightly more likely than men to support gay rights.
|% Acceptable||% Acceptable||pct. pts.|
Americans have become much more accepting of LGBT people and supportive of their rights, but this doesn't mean they are wholeheartedly prepared to back new civil rights legislation, such as the Equality Act recently passed in the House. A slim majority supports these types of bills, as was the case in 2017 -- and this doesn't put a tremendous amount of pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring the House-passed bill to the Senate floor.
Hesitance to support such new laws for LGBT Americans may in part be due to the growth in their perceptions of gay acceptance. If most Americans now believe that gay relations are viewed as acceptable by the public, they may perhaps also believe that laws to ensure their fair treatment are not needed. Gallup has historically found that Americans also say new civil rights laws to reduce discrimination against blacks are not needed.