September 25, 2007
On the Other Hand...
If 77% of Republicans now oppose employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, that is probably a new high. It is not, however, as unusual as it might seem. Significant majorities of Americans have opposed employment discrimination based on sexual orientation since at least the 1970s. For an overview that is now somewhat dated but still accurate on its own terms, see Alan Yang, From Wrongs to Rights, 1973 to 1999: Public Opinion on Gay and Lesbian Americans Moves Toward Equality (this link leads to a PDF file).
Such stated opposition to sexual orientation discrimination in employment does not necessarily translate to support for legislation to prohibit the practice, however. As Gregory Lewis and Marc Rogers reported, also in 1999, a significant percentage of Americans who claim to oppose sexual orientation discrimination in employment still do not support legislation prohibiting the practice. Presumably this position reflects a belief that federal regulation is simply not an appropriate remedy. See Gregory B. Lewis and Marc A. Rogers, Does the Public Support Equal Employment Rights for Gays and Lesbians?, Gays and Lesbians in the Democratic Process: Public Policy, Public Opinion, and Political Representation (Ellen D.B. Riggle and Barry Tadlock, eds. 1999). See also, Jeni Loftus, America's Liberalization in Attitudes toward Homosexuality, 1973 to 1998, 66 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL REV. 762-82 (2001).
Although the focus of the present and previous posts is employment discrimination, it is also worth noting, as these authors make clear, that opposition to employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation does not necessarily indicate support for any other lesbian/gay civil rights claim. The existing data indicates that many of the 77% of Republicans who claim to oppose sexual orientation discrimination in employment would also oppose recognition of same-sex marriages.