|Click on image to make it easier to read|
I was, of course, very interested to see that 56% of Americans think Gay and Lesbian relations are "morally acceptable". That's a 17 point difference from those who believe it is "morally wrong".
It's probably no surprise that the highest rank of "morally acceptable" - at 66% - came from those who were 18-34 years of age. 56% of those who were 35-54 years and 47% of those 55 years and older also found Gay and Lesbian relations "morally acceptable" - a 19 point difference (minus 55 years and older).
In 2001, 53% of those polled by Gallup said homosexuality was "morally wrong" while 40% said it was "morally acceptable". That "morally wrong" percentage rose in 2002 to 55% but has been steadily decreasing ever since 2005.
In 2010, we finally - FINALLY - crossed the 50% threshold! In 2010, 52% found Lesbian and Gay relations "morally acceptable". The upward trend of 56% for this year bodes well in terms of our continuing struggle for Marriage Equality - especially in the face of such regressive rhetoric and politics from the Campaign Trail and the outrageous legislation emerging from Republican-controlled State Senates.
The Gallup Poll also notes:
Americans are in broadest agreement about what behaviors are morally wrong. At least 8 in 10 U.S. adults interviewed in the May 5-8 survey say this about extramarital affairs, polygamy, cloning humans, and suicide. At least 6 in 10 say pornography and cloning animals are each morally wrong.
Widest agreement about what is morally acceptable, ranging from 60% to 69%, is found for divorce, the death penalty, gambling, embryonic stem cell research, and premarital sex. Also, 55% or better say medical testing on animals, gay/lesbian relations, and the use of animal fur for clothing are each acceptable.
The three most controversial issues -- doctor-assisted suicide, abortion, and out-of-wedlock births -- are the ones on which fewer than 15 points separate the percentage considering the issue morally acceptable from the percentage considering it morally wrong. Attitudes on each have been fairly stable in recent years.
|Click on image for easier reading|
I'm most surprised by this trinity of controversies: doctor-assisted suicide, abortion and out-of-wedlock births. They all have to do with the full spectrum of creation - from birth to death - and beg the question: Who is in control?
I guess I'm most deeply struck by the tension between the moral judgment of an out-of-wedlock birth and abortion. I mean, a woman simply can't win, can she? If she decides to carry the pregnancy to term, she bears the stigma of having an out-of-wedlock birth. If she decides not to carry the pregnancy to term, she is judged "morally wrong" for having an abortion.
And, the man who impregnated her? Well, apparently "boys will be boys". 60% of those polled find that sex between an unmarried man and woman is "morally acceptable". It's just the woman and the child who are judged "morally wrong".
It should also be noted that 91% find an extra marital affair "morally wrong".
It would seem that a man ought not be reading pornography (66% say it's "morally wrong") but he's off the hook in terms of marrying a woman whom he impregnates, leaving abortion a viable if not "morally wrong" option for her.
Don't even get me started about the "new old" contraception debate, the moral acceptability of which I thought we had decided decades ago.
Here's the thing: Unwed mothers have been with us since the beginning of time. Come to think of it, I don't remember reading that Adam and Eve had a wedding in The Garden of Eden.
Abortion has also been around for a long, long time.. Women have been struggling with the morality of unplanned, unwanted pregnancy for eons. Women have had abortions before it was considered a legal issue. Women have had abortions when they were considered illegal - although women were never charged with committing a crime - just the person performing the abortion.
And, women will continue to have abortions even though their rights are being systematically eroded as part of the War on Women. The latest news, of course, comes from Arizona which has redefined when life begins.
That would be two weeks before conception.
I am not making this up. Here, read it for yourself.
Between their stance on immigration and profiling, Arizona seems hell-bent on portraying itself as the least tolerant state in the Union.
|Click on image to make it easier to read|
While we are obviously closing the generation gap in terms of the "moral acceptability" of Lesbian and Gay relations, we have much work to do in terms of women's reproductive rights.
While I believe that homophobia and sexism/misogyny are integrally related, the relationship between reproductive rights and doctor-assisted suicide are also closely linked.
Right now, there is only a 3 point difference across the generations with regard to end-of-life issues and a 10 point difference across the same generation gap with regard to abortion.
This, I think, is the statistic to watch.
Just as abortion has been going on for centuries, so has doctor-assisted (or, family-assisted) suicide. I can tell you for a solid fact that doctors prescribe medication in hospice situations knowing full well that family members and patients can - and do, more often than we know - decide to slowly increase the dosages until Brother Death finally comes as a mixed blessing.
The question of what is "morally acceptable" is not so much about life and death and who is in control but the secrets we keep and the lies we tell about this part of the enterprise of being human.
When more of us come "out of the closet" about abortion and assisted-suicide, I suspect we'll find a concomitant change in the level of "moral acceptability".
What could be more "morally acceptable" than to tell the truth about love and sex and death?
And, what role does the Church have to play in helping people to tell the truth?
I don't know about you, but among these various statistics, I hear a very loud vocational call.
If what has happened with the LGBT community is any indicator, I think Mother Church needs to role up her sleeves, put on her apron and running shoes, and get to work.