How LGBT adults see society and how the public sees them

As the Supreme Court readies its long-awaited ruling on same-sex marriage, two Pew Research Center surveys this spring — one of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender adults and the other of the American public — found a common thread: that society as a whole has become more accepting of gays and lesbians.

That finding has its caveats. While an overwhelming number (92%) of LBGT adults saw society as having become more accepting over the last decade, many reported continued discrimination, taking various forms. On the part of the general public, opposition to same-sex marriage remains substantial, and religious beliefs are a major factor. Just under half of Americans (45%) say they think engaging in homosexual behavior is a sin.

The surveys do not offer a perfect comparison. The LGBT survey included bisexuals (who comprise 40% of the LGBT survey) and transgender adults. The survey of the general public focused on views of gay men and lesbians.

But taken together, the surveys offer some commonalities in several areas: acceptance, the experience of telling friends and family, the importance of personal contact, and in the difficult terrain of religion.


While LGBT adults say society is more accepting, just 19% say there is “a lot” of social acceptance today and many say they have been victims of discrimination, such as being subject to slurs or jokes, or suffering rejection by a family member.

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