41% Have Gay Friend, Relative; Familiarity Breeds Tolerance

June 8, 2007

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More than four in ten Americans (41%) say some of their close friends or family members are gays or lesbians, according to a recent national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

About half of women, young people, college graduates, political liberals and mainline Protestants say that someone close to them is gay, but significantly fewer men, conservative Republicans and older Americans say so, the survey found.

Overall, 58% said they had no gay friends or family members; the remaining 1% offered no opinion or declined to answer the question.

Among the survey findings:

  • Those who say they have a family member or close friend who is gay are more than twice as likely to support gay marriage as those who don’t: 55% to 25%.
  • More women than men – 47% versus 35% – say they have a close friend or family member who is gay.
  • Conservative Republicans are the least likely to say they have a close gay friend or family member (33%)
  • Liberal Democrats are most likely to say they have a close gay friend or family member (59%).
  • Race seems to have virtually no effect on whether a person knows gay people well.
  • Mainline Protestants and seculars are the most likely to say they had a gay family member or close friend: 47% say so.
  • White evangelicals (31%) and Hispanic Catholics (33%) are the least likely to say they have gay family members or close friends.
  • People living in the South (37%) are less likely to know gay people well than people living in the Northeast or West
  • People living in rural areas (34%) are less likely to say so than those in urban or suburban areas.

pew-gay-friends-relatives.gif  pew-gay-attitudes.gif

The poll of 2,007 randomly selected adults was conducted Dec. 12, 2006 to Jan. 9, 2007.

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