Saturday, November 05, 2005

North Carolinian attitudes toward gays more positive than originally thought

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From The Daily Tar Heel The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill N.C. might be more tolerant of LGBT rights than previously thought Online exclusive BY LAURA PHELPS STAFF WRITER October 27, 2005 The Common Sense Foundation released Wednesday the results of an N.C. poll that revealed unexpected results about voters’ attitudes toward the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. The poll, which was conducted by a telephone survey of a random sample of 25,000 voters, shows that North Carolinians are more open-minded about the LGBT community than originally was thought. “We at Common Sense believe that this poll shows that North Carolinians believe in equality for all state residents, regardless of sexual orientation,” the report states. “This survey shows particularly strong support for measures outlawing discrimination against LGBT individuals.” The results from several different questions show more positive attitudes toward LGBT issues. “We found that 73 percent of people polled believed that all North Carolinians should have equal rights regardless of sexual orientation,” said David Mills, executive director of the foundation. The poll also revealed that 69 percent view housing discrimination against the LGBT community as unfair. And 57 percent feel employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is unfair. Same-sex marriage is one issue that North Carolinians were against in previous surveys. But 51 percent of those surveyed by Common Sense think it is unfair “to define marriage in such a way that it excludes same-sex couples.” “We think this study challenges the conventional wisdom that says North Carolina is hostile to gays and lesbians,” Mills said. “It shows that people in North Carolina believe in equal rights, and they believe in fairness.” He said that the organization is working on using this study at a grassroots level in North Carolina and that he hopes it will lead to changes. “We believe this study will open peoples’ eyes and will get them talking about changing laws in North Carolina,” Mills said. Ian Palmquist, executive director for programs at Equality N.C., said the poll results reveal that public support for equal rights is continuing to strengthen. “I think this proves that North Carolinians are not as anti-gay as some believe,” he said, adding that these results are very encouraging for future progress. Although North Carolinians demonstrated greater support for LGBT rights than expected, the poll also revealed that they do not support every aspect of these rights. The Common Sense poll report showed that 59 percent believe it is fair that same-sex couples are not legally entitled to coverage under a partner’s employee health plan. And 54 percent also believe that the state should be able to discriminate when it comes to adoption of children by same-sex couples. Stephen Daniels, director of research at the N.C. Family Policy Council, said that the results elicited by this poll likely are due to poor question wording. He cited the fact that the majority of other polls conducted in North Carolina and nationwide have found that about 65 percent of individuals oppose same-sex marriage. “Many questions of this poll are worded in such a way as to elicit a specific response,” he said. “When a question is given detail and the respondent is able to fully understand what we’re talking about when we discuss granting legal marital rights to same-sex couples, respondents overwhelmingly oppose doing so.” But Palmquist still thinks that the outlook is hopeful. “Although we don’t have public support on every issue yet, the more North Carolinians see us and our families, the more they understand that we deserve equal treatment.” Contact the State & National Editor at Original Source: click here