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A recent national survey of 900 adults shows a nation moving inexorably toward equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. On basic civil rights issues such as employment and housing, huge majorities support protections for this community. Moreover, a majority of Americans support marriage for same-sex couples, a sea of change from just a few years ago. Perhaps most notable is the rising social equality for LGBT people. A 77 percent majority of men say they “could be close friends with a gay man” and 57 percent say it would not bother them if their child or grandchild was gay.

Young people lead this change, but the evolution is not limited to this generation. A third of seniors describe themselves as more accepting of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The movement is also national in character, not limited to the coasts. To be sure, there some parts of the country are more conservative than others, and while people in the South and the Midwest support rights for the LGBT community on a range of issues, they lag behind other regions of the country.

While the country is moving toward equality, it is not there yet. Nearly half the country still opposes marriage equality. The nation divides evenly on whether people are “born gay,” is conflicted on whether or not they have things in common with gay people, and an alarming number of people still find anti-gay jokes acceptable.

There is more work to do.

Key Findings

  • Americans support a broad range of rights and protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
  • Like a number of recent surveys, this research shows majority supporting marriage equality.
  • Right-wingers have frequently used LGBT issues to attack opponents and boost conservative turnout. However, it is losing its traction as more Americans see the LGBT community as part of the mainstream.
  • Socially and culturally, the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community is in a far different place.
  • The country has some miles still to travel.

Read the full memo and frequency questionnaire or visit the Human Rights Campaign.


This memorandum summarizes the results of a survey of 900 adults taken between July 16 and 19, 2011. The survey was commissioned by the Human Rights Campaign and executed by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. It carries on margin of error of +/- 3.27 at a 95 percent confidence level.