Rapid Increase in U.S. Public Support for LGBT Rights in Last 30 Years

Author: The Williams Institute
Published: Wednesday 19th November 2014 - Updated: Tuesday 28th February 2017
Summary: Public support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights in the United States has increased significantly over last three decades.


National trends suggest that increased support for LGBT rights is not exclusively due to a generational shift, but due, in part, to a broad cultural shift towards acceptance that has impacted people of all ages and ideologies in the country.

"This report allows us to examine public opinion trends on LGBT rights issues over time and analyze what factors are contributing to the change in public opinion," said lead author, Andrew R. Flores, Williams Public Opinion Project Director. "The popular narrative has been that change in public support for LGBT rights has come from a generational shift taking place in our country, but the analysis tells us that it's not exclusively the younger generation that is more supportive of LGBT rights, but people of all ages as well."

Over 325 national surveys dating back to June 1977 were analyzed that ask the public their opinions on five issues including: general attitudes toward LGBT people, legality of same-sex relations, legal recognition of marriages for same-sex couples, extension of adoption rights to same-sex couples, inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity in non-discrimination policies, and support for open military service. In addition, the report explores whether attitude change is primarily driven by inter-generational cohort change or other factors.

Key findings in the report include:

Public opinion data on all five issues was not always available for transgender people and bisexual people. The few surveys that do ask about support for transgender and bisexual people indicate that support has increased over time, but not at the same rate as for lesbians and gay men.

Full Report: https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/POP-natl-trends-nov-2014.pdf (PDF)


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