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What do Americans think of gay rights?

- January 23, 2009

In his address at the Democratic convention, Barack Obama said, “surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination.”

What was he thinking, saying this to the nation? California was on the way to a contentious battle over same-sex marriage and the issue has arisen in other states as well. Isn’t gay rights a wedge issue that Democrats should try to avoid?

Yes, Americans are conflicted about same-sex marriage, but one thing they mostly agree on is support for antidiscrimination laws.

In surveys, 72% of Americans support laws prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. An even greater number answer yes when asked, “Do you think homosexuals should have equal rights in terms of job opportunities?” This consensus is remarkably widespread: in all states a majority support antidiscrimination laws protecting gays and lesbians, and in all but 10 states this support is 70% or higher.

But people do not uniformly support gay rights. When asked whether gays should be allowed to work as elementary school teachers, 48% of Americans say no. . . .

We understand the contradictory attitude on gay rights in terms of framing. . . .

Full story here.