What a difference 20 years makes. Just look at LGBT rights in the 1990s compared to today. Back then, signed into law was the Defense of Marriage Act. So was the DADT military policy. But 20 years later, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality, and Congress repealed DADT — paving the way for President Obama to allow LGBT people to serve openly in the armed forces.
In 1997 another change was underway: New Jersey became the first state to allow gay couples to adopt. In 2016, a federal judge ruled a Mississippi ban on gay couple adoption was unconstitutional, and with his ruling, finally made parenthood an option for gay couples in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
A big part of the changes in LGBT rights is the result of shifting attitudes. That’s true with adoption as well. According to a survey sponsored by Adam & Eve — yes, the nation’s largest marketer of adult products, 73 percent of Americans now support same-sex couple adoption.
What I found interesting about the results is that gay parents enjoyed impressive support from their fellow Americans across genders, geographies, incomes, and education. Women favor the idea more than men, 79 percent to 67 percent, while fully one-in-five men don’t dig the idea of two dads or moms at all.
The most considerable support comes from younger people. Nearly 82 percent of people 18 to 29 years old are in favor of gay adoptive parents. That’s not all that surprising. According to John Francis, Ph.D., a research professor of political science at the University of Utah (and one of my former professors), “The best predictors of acceptance for this type of survey tend to be age — younger people are more supportive of adoptions by same-sex couples.”
It extends beyond just adoption, of course. We see overall acceptance of LGBT rights among younger people. Dr. Francis added, “The real surprise is support among younger Evangelicals and younger blacks, who are much more supportive than in the past. Among the LDS, younger Mormons are more supportive than older LDS identifiers.”
This acceptance by younger African Americans and Evangelicals may have tipped the results in favor of gay parents in regions where it didn’t fare as well, like Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi. Younger Mormons may also be behind the nearly 70 percent support rate among respondents in the Mountain West.
In spite of the impressive polling numbers and a very credible error rate of just 2 percent, we can’t discount the fact that the sample size of 1,000 adults is small. Is asking about 20 people in each state — sometimes more, sometimes less — indicative of the population as a whole? Moreover, does gathering the responses digitally skew the results?
Dr. Francis reminded me that the most respected survey analysis on same-gender families comes from the Williams Institute at UCLA. They dig far deeper than a single question and take years to unearth verifiable trends.
But I still see the results of this Adam & Eve-sponsored survey as encouraging. They didn’t poll their customers, whom you’d expect to be more liberal, and the anonymity provided through digital responses may make respondents more honest than a live or telephone survey.
Is this survey up to the standards of the Williams Institute? Probably not. But it doesn’t have to be. It provides us with a valuable glimpse into how gay-parent adoption is positively viewed by the general public, and that’s what’s important.
As Dr. Francis noted, “Overall, the trends demonstrate that acceptance is on the rise and may be here to stay.” It’s only been 20 years in the making.
Thanks to Adameve.com.
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