67% of Americans would support a gay or lesbian presidential candidate

According to a new Gallup poll, only 32% of Americans would be against supporting a gay or lesbian presidential candidate and 67% would be in support. As Think Progress mentions this a tremendous shift in mindset from say, 1978, when approximately 74% of the American public wouldn’t have supported a gay or lesbian political candidate.

What this brings up for me however is, why, despite what appears to be majority public support for gay lifestyles, has it been so hard to pass legislation in support of gay marriage? Also, this percentage would be skewed if we were to include gender non-conforming or transgender people, since I’m sure part of what has caused the change in mindset is the increased visibility of gay people on television, particularly gay men, particularly gay men that feed into a very specific and acceptable vision of what “gay” should be.

The poll wasn’t specifically about mindsets around sexuality, but all types of identity including religion. The Gallup poll looked at whether Americans would support a Mormon presidential candidate or not, a salient question in light of Romney’s candidacy and now that of Utah Gov. John Huntsman. Twenty-two percent of Americans have said they will not vote for Mormon candidate, a number that hasn’t really changed since 1967.

One would hope that part of what has created the shift in whether or not the voting public would support a gay candidate as opposed to a Mormon candidate or a Christian or Jewish is that the role of religion has decreased in how we view politicians. But we would be wrong. Turns out the hierarchy of who votes for who, starts with 94% “would vote for a black candidate” at the top, followed by women, Catholics, Baptists and so on and so forth, and ends with atheists–the people least likely to get voted for with 49% support. This might indirectly explain the discrepancy between supporting a gay or lesbian politician, but not supporting gay marriage.

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