A new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds further public acceptance of gay rights in the United States, in areas ranging from the professional basketball court to the Boy Scouts, as well as the institution of marriage.
Nearly seven in 10 Americans support the decision by professional basketball player Jason Collins to disclose publicly that he’s gay, the survey finds. Most support the Boy Scouts of America’s plan to admit gay scouts, while opposing its continued ban on gay adults. And 55 percent say gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry legally.
While partisan and ideological differences on each of these are large, centrist groups – e.g., independents and moderates – tilt the balance, underscoring a dramatic shift in favor of gay rights that’s accelerated in recent years.
Backing is widest and deepest for Collins, with 68 percent of Americans saying they support the NBA center’s decision to announce his sexual orientation. Those who “strongly” support his step outnumber his strong critics by a 3-1 margin.
A substantial 63 percent in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, also support the Boy Scouts’ plan to begin admitting gay scouts younger than 18, while 56 percent oppose its intention to continue to ban gay adults.
Again strength of sentiment favors gay rights, by 16- and 12-point margins, respectively. Both policies go to a vote of the group’s governing council, meeting the week of May 20 in Grapevine, Texas.
Article continues belowSome of these views even overcome political sentiment to some degree. Majorities of Republicans and conservatives, 52 and 54 percent, respectively, support Collins’ step, and 53 percent of Republicans support admitting gay scouts. These groups are much less apt to support admitting gay scout leaders or legalizing gay marriage.
Support’s far higher in other groups. Nearly three-quarters of moderates and independents support Collins, as do more than eight in 10 Democrats and liberals. Than two-thirds or more in each of these groups favor admitting gay scouts, and six in 10 or more oppose continuing to ban gay adults from scouting.
Support for gay marriage, for its part, reaches six in 10 or more in each of these groups, far higher than its support among conservatives and Republicans, 33 percent in both groups.