Recently, Gallup asked people about their feelings regarding gay marriage. What makes this poll different than most? They broke down the results based on whether people were personally associated with gays and lesbians.
The Gallup Poll data reviewed above show conclusively that many views toward gay and lesbian issues are related -- in some instances, strongly so -- to personal experience with individuals who are gay or lesbian. There are two plausible explanations for this relationship. One is that exposure to gays and lesbians leads to greater acceptance, regardless of one's ideological leanings. The second is that people who are more accepting of gays and lesbians are more likely to put themselves into situations in which they are exposed to gays and lesbians -- in terms of cities and regions of residence, as well as workplace and social choices. Both of these processes are at work, though it is difficult to say which is more important.
Whatever the direction of causality, the data do make a strong case that knowing someone who is gay or lesbian fosters more accepting attitudes on many of the issues surrounding gay and lesbian relations today.
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