19 June 2013

LGBT in Changing Times Attitudes, Experiences and Growing Acceptance (Pew)

With the U.S. Supreme Court expected to rule later this month on same-sex marriage, the Pew Research Center is releasing a series of reports that explore attitudes about sexual orientation and identity. The series is based on several new Pew Research surveys – one of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) adults in the U.S.; another of the American public as a whole; and another of publics in 39 countries. It will also include a new analysis of media coverage and the social media conversation about the same-sex marriage issue.

Same-Sex Marriage State-by-State (Pew)

Same-Sex Marriage State-by-State (Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, 6 June 2013)

Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage following a ruling by the state's highest court in 2003. To date, courts, legislatures and voters in 12 states – Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington state – and the District of Columbia have legalized gay marriage. In addition, eight states – California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon and Wisconsin – have civil unions or domestic-partnership provisions for same-sex couples. Meanwhile, 30 states have amended their constitutions to ban gay marriage.

In Gay Marriage Debate, Both Supporters and Opponents See Legal Recognition as 'Inevitable' (Pew Research)

The national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted May 1-5 among 1,504 adults, finds that support for same-sex marriage continues to grow: For the first time in Pew Research Center polling, just over half (51%) of Americans favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally. Yet the issue remains divisive, with 42% saying they oppose legalizing gay marriage. Opposition to gay marriage – and to societal acceptance of homosexuality more generally – is rooted in religious attitudes, such as the belief that engaging in homosexual behavior is a sin.

At the same time, more people today have gay or lesbian acquaintances, which is associated with acceptance of homosexuality and support for gay marriage. Nearly nine-in-ten Americans (87%) personally know someone who is gay or lesbian (up from 61% in 1993). About half (49%) say a close family member or one of their closest friends is gay or lesbian. About a quarter (23%) say they know a lot of people who are gay or lesbian, and 31% know a gay or lesbian person who is raising children. The link between these experiences and attitudes about homosexuality is strong. For example, roughly two-thirds (68%) of those who know a lot of people who are gay or lesbian favor gay marriage, compared with just 32% of those who don’t know anyone.

See also: LGBT in Changing Times (Pew Research Center)

18 June 2013

Divided by Ancient Disputes: Sunnis, Shi‘ites & the Future of the Middle East

Americans wonder what is going on in the Middle East these days, especially the civil and religious strife that is tearing Syria apart – and, potentially, Lebanon and Iraq along with it. Modern Christians, even Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland, have little appetite for going to battle over religious differences. Within the House of Islam, however, ancient antagonisms between Sunni and Shi‘ite Muslims are alive and well; indeed, they are currently devastating the heartland of the religion. What is the source of the division between Sunnis and Shi‘ites, and how prevalent is this bifurcation in the whole Islamic world, a community of more than 1.6 billion people?