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Sociologist Mary Bernstein writes: "For the lesbian and gay movement, then, cultural goals include (but are not limited to) challenging dominant constructions of masculinity and femininity, homophobia, and the primacy of the gendered heterosexual nuclear family (heteronormativity). Political goals include changing laws and policies in order to gain new rights, benefits, and protections from harm." Bernstein emphasizes that activists seek both types of goals in both the civil and political spheres.
As with other social movements, there is also conflict within and between LGBT movements, especially about strategies for change and debates over exactly who comprises the constituency that these movements represent. There is debate over to what extent lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgendered people, intersexed people and others share common interests and a need to work together. Leaders of the lesbian and gay movement of the 1970s, 80s and 90s often attempted to hide masculine lesbians, feminine gay men, transgendered people, and bisexuals from the public eye, creating internal divisions within LGBT communities.
LGBT movements have often adopted a kind of identity politics that sees gay, bisexual and/or transgender people as a fixed class of people; a minority group or groups. Those using this approach aspire to liberal political goals of freedom and equal opportunity, and aim to join the political mainstream on the same level as other groups in society. In arguing that sexual orientation and gender identity are innate and cannot be consciously changed, attempts to change gay, lesbian and bisexual people into heterosexuals ("conversion therapy") are generally opposed by the LGBT community. Such attempts are often based in religious beliefs that perceive gay, lesbian and bisexual activity as immoral.
However, others within LGBT movements have criticised identity politics as limited and flawed, elements of the queer movement have argued that the categories of gay and lesbian are restrictive, and attempted to deconstruct those categories, which are seen to "reinforce rather than challenge a cultural system that will always mark the nonheterosexual as inferior."
After the French Revolution the anticlerical feeling in Catholic countries coupled with the liberalizing effect of the Napoleonic Code made it possible to sweep away sodomy laws. However, in Protestant countries, where the tyranny of the church was less severe, there was no general reaction against statutes that were religious in origin. As a result, many of those countries retained their statutes on sodomy until late in the 20th century. The prominent Nazi jurist Rudolf Klare argued for the moral superiority of harsh anti-homosexual Teutonic traditions (such as Germany, England and American states) over Latin countries (such as France, Spain, Italy, and Poland) which no longer punished homosexual acts.
In eighteenth and nineteenth century Europe, same-sex sexual behaviour and cross-dressing were widely considered to be socially unacceptable, and were serious crimes under sodomy and sumptuary laws. There were, however, some exceptions. For example, in the 1600s cross dressing was common in plays, as, for example, evident in the content of many of William Shakespeare's plays (and by the actors in the actual performances, since female roles in Elizabethan Theater were always performed by males, usually prepubescent boys). Many Native American cultures also widely respected individuals who, in today's terms, might have been transgender, bisexual or homosexual, stating that they embodied characteristics of both male and female counterparts. Any organized community or social life was underground and secret. Thomas Cannon wrote what may be the earliest published defence of homosexuality in English, Ancient and Modern Pederasty Investigated and Exemplify'd (1749). Social reformer Jeremy Bentham wrote the first known argument for homosexual law reform in England around 1785, at a time when the legal penalty for buggery was death by hanging. However, he feared reprisal, and his powerful essay was not published until 1978. The emerging currents of secular humanist thought which had inspired Bentham also informed the French Revolution, and when the newly-formed National Constituent Assembly began drafting the policies and laws of the new republic in 1792, groups of militant 'sodomite-citizens' in Paris petitioned the Assemble nationale, the governing body of the French Revolution, for freedom and recognition. In 1791 France became the first nation to decriminalise homosexuality, probably thanks in part to the homosexual Jean Jacques Rgis de Cambacrs who was one of the authors of the Napoleonic code.
In 1833, an anonymous English-language writer wrote a poetic defence of Captain Nicholas Nicholls, who had been sentenced to death in London for sodomy:
Three years later in Switzerland, Heinrich Hoessli published the first volume of Eros: Die Mnnerliebe der Griechen ("Eros: The Male-love of the Greeks"), another defence of same-sex love.
During that period, Poland never criminalized homosexuality. 18th century Poland was marked by an Enlightenment-driven attitude to sexuality, with public figures reported to engage in homosexual activities or transvestitism. Such "scandalous" events drew public attention, but did not result in prosecution. After the partitions of Poland Polish territories came under control of the Russian Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia; the law of those countries made homosexual acts illegal. Nevertheless, prominent figures were known to form homosexual relationships, including Narcyza Å»michowska (1819–1876), a writer and founder of the Polish feminist movement, who used her private experiences in her writing.
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From the 1870s, social reformers in other countries had begun to defend homosexuality, but their identities were kept secret. A secret British society called the "Order of Chaeronea" campaigned for the legalisation of homosexuality, and counted playwright Oscar Wilde among its members in the last decades of the 19th century. In the 1890s, English socialist poet Edward Carpenter and Scottish anarchist John Henry Mackay wrote in defense of same-sex love and androgyny; Carpenter and British homosexual rights advocate John Addington Symonds contributed to the development of Havelock Ellis's groundbreaking book Sexual Inversion, which called for tolerance towards "inverts" and was suppressed when first published in England.
In Europe and America, a broader movement of "free love" was also emerging from the 1860s among first-wave feminists and radicals of the libertarian left. They critiqued Victorian sexual morality and the traditional institutions of family and marriage that were seen to enslave women. Some advocates of free love in the early 20th century, including Russian anarchist and feminist Emma Goldman, also spoke in defence of same-sex love and challenged repressive legislation.
In 1897, German doctor and writer Magnus Hirschfeld formed the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee to campaign publicly against the notorious law "Paragraph 175", which made sex between men illegal. Adolf Brand later broke away from the group, disagreeing with Hirschfeld's medical view of the "intermediate sex", seeing male-male sex as merely an aspect of manly virility and male social bonding. Brand was the first to use "outing" as a political strategy, claiming that German Chancellor Bernhard von Blow engaged in homosexual activity.
The 1901 book Sind es Frauen? Roman ber das dritte Geschlecht (Are These Women? Novel about the Third Sex) by Aime Duc was as much a political treatise as a novel, criticising pathological theories of homosexuality and gender inversion in women. Anna Rling, delivering a public speech in 1904 at the request of Hirschfeld, became the first female Uranian activist. Rling, who also saw "men, women, and homosexuals" as three distinct genders, called for an alliance between the women's and sexual reform movements, but this speech is her only known contribution to the cause. Women only began to join the previously male-dominated sexual reform movement around 1910 when the German government tried to expand Paragraph 175 to outlaw sex between women. Heterosexual feminist leader Helene Stcker became a prominent figure in the movement. Friedrich Radszuweit published LGBT literature and magazines in Berlin (for example "Die Freundin").
Hirschfeld, whose life was dedicated to social progress for people who were transsexual, transvestite and homosexual, formed the Institut fr Sexualwissenschaft (Institute for Sexology) in 1919. The institute conducted an enormous amount of research, saw thousands of transgender and homosexual clients at consultations, and championed a broad range of sexual reforms including sex education, contraception and women's rights. However, the gains made in Germany would soon be drastically reversed with the rise of Nazism, and the institute and its library were destroyed in 1933. The Swiss journal Der Kreis was the only part of the movement to continue through the Nazi era.
The Russian Revolution of 1917 decriminalised homosexuality and recognised same-sex marriage. This was a remarkable step in Russia of the time – which was very backward economically and socially, and where many conservative attitudes towards sexuality prevailed. This step was part of a larger project of freeing sexual relationships and expanding women's rights – including legalising abortion, granting divorce on demand, equal rights for women, and attempts to socialise house-work. With the era of Stalin, however, Russia reverted all these progressive measures – re-criminalising homosexuality and imprisoning gay men and banning abortion.
In the United States, several secret or semi-secret groups were formed explicitly to advance the rights of homosexuals as early as the turn of the twentieth century, but little is known about them. A better documented group is Henry Gerber's The Society for Human Rights formed in Chicago in 1924, which was quickly suppressed.
The independent Polish state decriminalised homosexuality in 1932. The police still used gross indecency laws instead to harass homosexuals, but the gay community in Poland thrived, with many important public figures, such as the composer Karol Szymanowski, the poet BolesÅaw LeÅmian and the novelists JarosÅaw Iwaszkiewicz and Maria Däbrowska being of homosexual orientation. The German Nazi invasion of 1939 put an end to it.
Immediately following World War II, a number of homosexual rights groups came into being or were revived across the Western world, in Britain, France, Germany, Holland, the Scandinavian countries and the United States. These groups usually preferred the term homophile to "homosexual", emphasizing love over sex. The homophile movement began in the late 1940s with groups in the Netherlands and Denmark, and continued throughout the 1950s and 1960s with groups in Sweden, Norway, the United States, France, Britain and elsewhere. ONE, Inc., the first public homosexual organization in the U.S, was bankrolled by the wealthy transsexual man Reed Erickson. A U.S. transgender-rights journal, Transvestia: The Journal of the American Society for Equality in Dress, also published two issues in 1952.
The homophile movement lobbied to establish a prominent influence in political systems of social acceptability; radicals of the 1970s would later disparage the homophile groups for being assimilationist. Any demonstrations were orderly and polite. By 1969, there were dozens of homophile organizations and publications in the U.S, and a national organization had been formed, but they were largely ignored by the media. A 1965 gay march held in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, according to some historians, marked the beginning of the modern gay rights movement. Meanwhile in San Francisco in 1966, transgender street prostitutes in the poor neighborhood of Tenderloin rioted against police harassment at a popular all-night restaurant, Gene Compton's Cafeteria.
After the introduction of Soviet-style communism to Poland, the 1948 law stated that the age of consent for all sexual acts, homosexual or heterosexual, was 15. However, the powerful influence of the Roman Catholic Church made open homosexuality a matter of scandal. While a gay poet Grzegorz MusiaÅ could publish officially, Jerzy Andrzejewski's last novel dealing with the subject of homosexuality was censored. The gay subculture grew, with official and underground press alike discussing the subject of homosexuality. However, the traditionally conservative attitudes towards sexuality were used by the secret police to harass and put pressure on individuals.
The new social movements of the sixties, such as the Black Power and anti-Vietnam war movements in the U.S, the May 1968 insurrection in France, and Women's Liberation throughout the Western world, inspired some LGBT activists to become more radical, and the Gay Liberation Movement emerged towards the end of the decade. This new radicalism is often attributed to the Stonewall riots of 1969, when a group of transsexual, butch/femme lesbians, drag queens and gay male patrons at a bar in New York resisted a police raid. Although Gay Liberation was already underway, Stonewall certainly provided a rallying point for the fledgling movement.
Immediately after Stonewall, such groups as the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) and the Gay Activists' Alliance (GAA) were formed. Their use of the word "gay" represented a new unapologetic defiance– as an antonym for "straight" ('respectable sexual behaviour'), it encompassed a range of non-normative sexualities and gender expressions, such as transgender street prostitutes, and sought ultimately to free the bisexual potential in everyone, rendering obsolete the categories of homosexual and heterosexual. According to Gay Lib writer Toby Marotta, "their Gay political outlooks were not homophile but liberationist". "Out, loud and proud", they engaged in colourful street theatre. The GLF–s "A Gay Manifesto" set out the aims for the fledgling gay liberation movement, and influential intellectual Paul Goodman published –The Politics of Being Queer– (1969).
Chapters of the GLF were established across the U.S. and in other parts of the Western world. The Front Homosexuel d'Action Rvolutionnaire was formed in 1971 by lesbians who split from the Mouvement Homophile de France.
One of the values of the movement was gay pride. Organized by an early GLF leader Brenda Howard, the Stonewall riots were commemorated by annual marches that became known as Gay pride parades. From 1970 activists protested the classification of homosexuality as a mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association in their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and in 1974 it was replaced with a category of "sexual orientation disturbance" then "ego-dystonic homosexuality", which was also deleted, although "gender identity disorder" remains.
From the anarchistic Gay Liberation Movement of the early 1970s arose a more reformist and single-issue "Gay Rights Movement", which portrayed gays and lesbians as a minority group and used the language of civil rights– in many respects continuing the work of the homophile period. In Berlin, for example, the radical Homosexuelle Aktion Westberlin was eclipsed by the Allgemeine Homosexuelle Arbeitsgemeinschaft.
Gay and lesbian rights advocates argued that one–s sexual orientation does not reflect on one–s gender; that is, –you can be a man and desire a man... without any implications for your gender identity as a man,– and the same is true if you are a woman. Gays and lesbians were presented as identical to heterosexuals in all ways but private sexual practices, and butch "bar dykes" and flamboyant "street queens" were seen as negative stereotypes of lesbians and gays. Veteran activists such as Sylvia Rivera and Beth Elliot were sidelined or expelled because they were transgender.
In 1977, a former Miss America contestant and orange juice spokesperson, Anita Bryant, began a campaign "Save Our Children", in Dade County, Florida (greater Miami), which proved to be a major set-back in the Gay Liberation movement. Essentially, she established an organization which put forth an amendment to the laws of the county which resulted in the firing of many public school teachers on the suspicion that they were homosexual.
In 1979, a number of people in Sweden called in sick with a case of being homosexual, in protest of homosexuality being classified as an illness. This was followed by an activist occupation of the main office of the National Board of Health and Welfare. Within a few months, Sweden became the first country in the world to remove homosexuality as an illness.
Lesbian feminism, which was most influential from the mid 1970s to the mid 1980s, encouraged women to direct their energies toward other women rather than men, and advocated lesbianism as the logical result of feminism. As with Gay Liberation, this understanding of the lesbian potential in all women was at odds with the minority-rights framework of the Gay Rights movement. Many women of the Gay Liberation movement felt frustrated at the domination of the movement by men and formed separate organisations; some who felt gender differences between men and women could not be resolved developed "lesbian separatism", influenced by writings such as Jill Johnston's 1973 book Lesbian Nation. Disagreements between different political philosophies were, at times, extremely heated, and became known as the lesbian sex wars, clashing in particular over views on sadomasochism, prostitution and transsexuality. The term "gay" came to be more strongly associated with homosexual males.
In Canada, the coming into effect of Section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1985 saw a shift in the gay rights movement in Canada, as Canadian gays and lesbians moved from liberation to litigious strategies. Premised on Charter protections and on the notion of the immutability of homosexuality, judicial rulings rapidly advanced rights, including those that compelled the Canadian government to legalize same-sex marriage. It has been argued that while this strategy was extremely effective in advancing the safety, dignity and equality of Canadian homosexuals, its emphasis of sameness came at the expense of difference and may have undermined opportunities for more meaningful change.
Mark Segal, an early member of Gay Liberation, has continued to pave the road of gay equality. Many [who?] refer to Mark Segal as the dean of American gay journalism. As a pioneer of the local gay press movement, he was one of the founders and former president of both The National Gay Press Association and the National Gay Newspaper Guild. He also is the founder and publisher of the award-winning Philadelphia Gay News. As a young gay activist, Segal understood the power of media. In 1973 Segal disrupted the CBS evening news with Walter Cronkite, an event covered in newspapers across the country and viewed by 60% of American households, many seeing or hearing about homosexuality for the first time. Before the networks agreed to put a stop to censorship and bias in the news division, Segal went on to disrupt The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and Barbara Walters on The Today Show. The trade newspaper Variety claimed that Segal had cost the industry $750,000 in production, tape delays and lost advertising revenue.
Aside from publishing, Segal has also reported on gay life from far reaching places as Lebanon, Cuba, and East Berlin during the fall of the Berlin Wall. He and Bob Ross, former publisher of San Francisco's Bar Area Reporter represented the gay press and lectured in Moscow and St. Petersburg at Russia's first openly gay conference, referred to as Russia's Stonewall. He recently coordinated a network of local gay publications nationally to celebrate October as gay history month, with a combined print run reaching over a half million people. His determination to gain acceptance and respect for the gay press can be summed up by his 15 year battle to gain membership in the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, one of the nation's oldest and most respected organizations for daily and weekly newspapers. The 15 year battled ended after the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News and the Pittsburgh Post Gazette joined forces and called for PGN's membership. Today Segal sits on the Board of Directors of PNA. In 2005, he produced Philadelphia's official July 4 concert for a crowd estimated at 500,000 people. The star-studded show featured Sir Elton John, Pattie Labelle, Brian Adams, and Rufus Wainwright. On a recent anniversary of PGN an editorial in the Philadelphia Inquirer stated "Segal and PGN continue to step up admirably to the challenge set for newspapers by H.L. Menchen. "To afflict the comfortable and to comfort the afflicted."
Some historians consider that a new era of the gay rights movement began in the 1980s with the emergence of AIDS, which decimated the leadership and shifted the focus for many. This era saw a resurgence of militancy with direct action groups like AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) (formed in 1987), and its offshoots Queer Nation (1990) and the Lesbian Avengers (1992). Some younger activists, seeing "gay and lesbian" as increasingly normative and politically conservative, began using queer as a defiant statement of all sexual minorities and gender variant people– just as the earlier liberationists had done with gay. Less confrontational terms that attempt to reunite the interests of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transpeople also became prominent, including various acronyms like LGBT, LGBTQ, and LGBTI.
In the 1990s, organizations began to spring up in non-western countries, such as Progay Philippines, which was founded in 1993 and organized the first Gay Pride march in Asia on June 26, 1994. In many countries, LGBT organizations remain illegal and transsexual, transgender and homosexual activists face extreme opposition from the state. Importantly, the 1990s also saw the emergence of many LGBT youth movements and organizations such as LGBT youth centers, Gay-straight alliances in high schools and youth specific activism such as the National Day of Silence.
The 1990s also saw a rapid push of the transgender movements, while at the same time a sidelining of the identity of those who are transsexual. In the English-speaking world, an important text was Leslie Feinberg's, "Transgender Liberation: A Movement Whose Time Has Come– The Story of Ben Wells", published in 1992. 1993 is considered to mark the beginning of a new movement of intersexuals, with the founding of the flawed organisation Intersex Society of North America by Cheryl Chase. Fortunately it has been replaced by a better, world representative for peoples who are intersex, Organisation Intersex International . Gender different peoples across the globe also formed minority rights movements– Hijra activists campaigned for recognition as a third sex in India and Travesti groups began to organize against police brutality across Latin America, while activists in the United States formed militant groups such as Transsexual Menace.
In many cases, LGBTI rights movements came to focus on questions of intersectionality, the interplay of oppressions arising from being both queer and underclass, colored, disabled, etc.
The Netherlands was the first country to allow same-sex marriage, in 2001. As of today, same-sex marriages are also legal in Sweden, Belgium, Canada, Norway, South Africa, Spain, and Portugal, along with five states in the United States: Massachusetts, Iowa, Connecticut, Vermont and New Hampshire (eff. 1.1.2010) as well as the District of Columbia. During this same period, some municipalities have been enacting laws against homosexuality. E.g., Rhea County, Tennessee unsuccessfully tried to "ban homosexuals" in 2006.
On 22 October 2009, the assembly of the Church of Sweden, voted strongly in favour of giving its blessing to homosexual couples., including the use of the term marriage, ("matrimony"). The new law was introduced on November 1, 2009 and is the first case in the world.
To this date people who are transsexual, transgender and or intersex do not as of yet enjoy the same full protections that people who are lesbian or gay do in most of the world, including the U.S. and Canada
In 2010 in the U.S. an ad campaign was launched to inform people not to use the term "that's so gay" to mean "that's so stupid", claming that it is offensive.
On July 2010, Argentina became the first country in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage.
LGBT movements are opposed by a variety of individuals and organizations., They may have a personal, moral, political or religious objection to gay rights, homosexual relations or gay people. Opponents have said same-sex relationships are not marriages, that legalization of same-sex marriage will open the door for the legalization of polygamy, that it is unnatural and that it encourages unhealthy behavior. Some social conservatives believe that all sexual relationships with people other than an opposite-sex spouse undermines the traditional family and that children should be reared in homes with both a father and a mother. The 1990s saw the establishment of the ex-gay movement.
There is also concern that gay rights may conflict with individuals' freedom of speech, religious freedoms in the workplace, and the ability to run churches, charitable organizations and other religious organizations that hold opposing social and cultural views to LGBT rights. There is also concern that religious organizations might be forced to accept and perform same-sex marriages or risk tax-exempt status.
There are also people who are heterosexist, anti-homosexual, homophobic or are otherwise averse to[neutrality is disputed] gay men and lesbians. Studies have consistently shown that people with negative attitudes towards lesbians and gays are more likely to be male, older, religious, politically conservative, have lower education levels,[clarification needed] live in more rural areas,[clarification needed]and have little close personal contact with openly gay individuals,[Need quotation to verify] as well as supporting traditional gender roles.[Need quotation to verify]
Eric Rofes author of the book , A Radical Rethinking of Sexuality and Schooling: Status Quo or Status Queer?, argues that the inclusion of teachings on homosexuality in public schools will play an important role in transforming public ideas about lesbian and gay individuals. As a former teacher in the public school system, Rofes recounts how he was fired from his teaching position after making the decision to come out as gay. As a result of the stigma that he faced as a gay teacher he emphasizes the necessity of the public to take radical approaches to making significant changes in public attitudes about homosexuality. According to Rofes, radical approaches are grounded in the belief that "something fundamental needs to be transformed for authentic and sweeping changes to occur."The radical approaches proposed by Rofes have been met with strong opposition from anti-gay rights activists such as John Briggs. Former California senator, John Briggs proposed Proposition 6, a ballot initiative that would require that all California state public schools fire any gay or lesbian teachers or counselors, along with any faculty that displayed support for gay rights in an effort to prevent what he believe to be " the corruption of the children's minds". The exclusion of homosexuality from the sexual education curriculum, in addition to the absence of sexual counseling programs in public schools, has resulted in increased feelings of isolation and alienation for gay and lesbian students who desire to have gay counseling programs that will help them come to terms with their sexual orientation. Eric Rofes founder of youth homosexual programs ,such as Out There and Committee for Gay Youth, stresses the importance of having support programs that help youth learn to identify with their sexual orientation.
David Campos, author of the book, Sex, Youth, and Sex Education: A Reference Handbook, illuminates the argument proposed by proponents of sexual education programs in public schools. Many gay rights supporters argue that teachings about the diverse sexual orientations that exist outside of heterosexuality are pertinent to creating students that are well informed about the world around them. However, Campos also acknowledges that the sex education curriculum alone cannot teach youth about factors associated with sexual orientation but instead he suggests that schools implement policies that create safe school learning environments and foster support for gay and lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth. It is his belief that schools that provide unbiased, factual information about sexual orientation, along with supportive counseling programs for these homosexual youth will transform the way society treats homosexuality. Many opponents of LGBT social movements have attributed their indifference toward homosexuality as being a result of the immoral values that it may instill in children who are exposed to homosexual individuals. In opposition to this claim, many proponents of increased education about homosexuality suggest that educators should refrain from teaching about sexuality in schools entirely. In her book entitled "Gay and Lesbian Movement", Margaret Cruickshank provides statistical data from the Harris and Yankelvoich polls which confirmed that over 80% of American adults believe that students should be educated about sexuality within their public school. In addition, the poll also found that 75% of parents believe that homosexuality and abortion should be included in the curriculum as well. An assessment conducted on California public school systems discovered that only 2% of all parents actually disproved of their child being taught about sexuality in school.
Overall, education has a consistent positive impact on support for same sex marriage, and African Americans statistically have lower rates of educational attainment. However, the education level of African Americans does not have as much significance on their attitude towards same-sex marriage as it does on white attitudes. Educational attainment among whites has a significant positive effect on support for same-sex marriage, whereas the direct effect of education among African Americans is less significant. White income level has a direct and positive correlation with support for same-sex marriage, but African American income level is not significantly associated with attitudes toward same-sex marriage.
Location also affects ideas towards same-sex marriage; residents of rural and southern areas are significantly more opposed to same-sex marriage in comparison to residents elsewhere. Women are consistently more supportive than men of LGBT rights, and individuals that are divorced or have never married are also more likely to grant marital rights to same-sex couples than married or widowed individuals. Also, white women are significantly more supportive than white men, but there are no gender discrepancies among African Americans. The year in which one was born is a strong indicator of attitude towards same-sex marriage–generations born after 1946 are considerably more supportive of same-sex marriage than older generations. Statistics show that African Americans are more opposed to same-sex marriage than any other ethnicity.
Studies show that Non-Protestants are much more likely to support same-sex unions than Protestants; 63% of African Americans claim that they are Baptist or Protestant, whereas only 30% of white Americans are. Religion, as measured by individuals– religious affiliations, behaviors, and beliefs, has a lot of influence in structuring same-sex union attitudes and consistently influences opinions about homosexuality. The most liberal attitudes are generally reflected by Jews, liberal Protestants, and people who are not affiliated with religion. This is because many of their religious traditions have not –systematically condemned homosexual behaviors– in recent years. Moderate and tolerant attitudes are generally reflected by Catholics and moderate Protestants. And lastly, the most conservative views are held by Evangelical Protestants. Moreover, it is a tendency for one to be less tolerant of homosexuality if their social network is strongly tied to a religious congregation. Organized religion, especially Protestant and Baptist affiliations, espouse conservative views which traditionally denounce same-sex unions. Therefore, these congregations are more likely to hear messages of this nature. Polls have also indicated that the amount and level of personal contact that individuals have with homosexual individuals and traditional morality affects attitudes of same-sex marriage and homosexuality.
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