Unlike one well-known blogger mom who would prefer that her son grew up to be gay, I don’t wish for my little man to manifest any particular sexual orientation. I do, however, harbor a strong preference that he grow into his sexual self in a country where gay people are not vilified, harassed, or discriminated against.
That’s why I was heartened to read the numbers in this newly released Field Poll, which indicate that the winds, at least in California, are blowing my way.
“As time passes, there is a greater acceptance of gay and lesbian rights and greater support of anti-discrimination policies,” said Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field Poll. “That’s the key finding.”
Californians are warming up to gays on a number of fronts:
Even the haters’ club is shrinking: in ’97, 50% believed that homosexual relations were wrong. In 2006, only 36% bought tickets to that bigots’ ball.
Even in my most jaded moments, I have always believed that Americans would sooner or later extend equal rights to gay people. I figured, hey, the older generations will die off, new ones will come of age, and the percentages in the pie chart will shift without much coaxing.
But according to the Field Poll, a good many people are softening their attitudes as they age: “41 percent of respondents said they are more accepting now of same-sex relationships than they were when they were 18 years old.” So you can teach an old dog new tricks.
The poll also takes a chunk out of the rusty bromide that gay rights pushed too aggressively (a la Gavin Newsom) will result in a backlash that will quash any gains. And it reinforces this bit of conventional wisdom:
Throughout the poll, those who most opposed legal protections for same-sex couples also were least likely to personally know any lesbians or gays.
To know a gay person is to love one. And I love so many!