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Essay:Why America has Become More Accepting of Homosexuals
When the electronic band Daft Punk won the Grammys, they credited the rapper Macklemore for having gay marriages on stage, calling it "As elegant and classy as the Grammys have ever been". Such an on stage display, only 7 years ago would have received massive condemnation from a vast majority of people. But now, not only are such displays being celebrated, but acceptance of homosexuals is at an all time high (“Public Opinion”). Additionally, in the military, the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy is being questioned, and dismissals have dropped from an all time high to almost an all time low (“Annual”). With recent celebration at the repeal of the “Defense of Marriage Act”, it has become apparent that public opinion about homosexuals is changing (“Obama Administration”). But why? What has caused such a massive shift in the way Americans think about these people?
The first reason why this change has occurred is actually a large number of “fence sitters” (those that do not voice their support of any particular position) coming out in support of homosexuality, falling from being the vast majority to a minority opinion (“Public Opinion”). However the group of people opposed to homosexuality has not grown though, as all of these fence sitters have come out in support (“Public Opinion”). This change may be due to homosexuality becoming more of a “hot” issue, forcing people to take sides. Combined with the recent actions of extremist anti-gay groups and countries like Westboro Baptist Church and Uganda, more people would be inclined to side with homosexuals as they are the perceived victims (“Not Again Uganda”). Uganda in particular has not done anything to alleviate this; quite the opposite, they have cited the religious right in America as the source and inspiration for their new ultra-strict anti-gay laws (“How Uganda”).
Another reason why this change could occur is actually a side-effect of a different change. Pew research did a study on the main reasons why people oppose gay marriage, and the result came back with 45% directly citing their religion, with another 25% citing reasons that originate mostly in religion, such as appeals to nature (“Main Reasons”). Additionally, another 12% say “It just is” as their reason, implying that they reject gay-marriage simply because of cultural pressures (“Main Reasons”). With 75% of Americans citing religion as the main reason why they reject gay marriage, and another 12% having no reason in particular, if anything happened to affect the religiosity in America, they would change their views. Well,, according to another Pew study, this is precisely what did happen, with religious fundamentalism declining and a massive increase in the nonreligious (“Growth of the Nonreligious”). This had exactly the desired effect on the American public, as soon after this increase started, acceptance started to increase as well. This has been made even more solid by the actions of rogue anti-gay religious organizations like Westboro Baptist Church serving to create a symbol of the religious bigotry at the heart of religious anti-gay sentiment. Ironically though, Westboro’s actions have had the opposite effect that they desired, because their actions have cause otherwise disparate groups to join together is opposition to them (“Anti Gay”)
Additionally, people may have come to be more accepting of homosexuals and same-sex marriage because of a change in tactics by gay rights activists: asserting that people have the right to be gay. By this simple change in language, the image of homosexuals has gone from sexual deviancy to a human right, the denial of which would be akin to racism. This has become highly effective in reaching younger people, especially as pop culture icons like Macklemore have become outspoken advocates for gay-rights and some, like Ellen Degeneres, coming out as either gay or lesbian (“Religious Beliefs”). This in turn would make a less hostile environment for gays and lesbians to come out in, which in turn would lead to further acceptance through personal contact (“Personal Contact”). This may have resulted in a positive-feedback loop, causing a massive rise in acceptance. I for one know the effects of this, as one of my sisters best friends came out as gay, and almost immediately my sisters opinions about homosexuality and gay marriage changed.
Whether or not the rise in acceptance of homosexuality is a good thing is left up to debate among sociologists and philosophers, but nobody can deny that it is occurring. My hope is that this paper will have helped people understand the reasons behind this shift in the way that Americans think. Issues like this not only help define what direction our country will go, but also how this direction will affect us in turn.
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