1150 Seventeenth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036 202.862.5800 www.aei.org
Social Issues Over Time
On some social issues, the country is moving in a more liberal direction as the line graph below shows. There is clearmovement on gay marriage and legalization of marijuana. On abortion, there seems to be little movement. Support forapplying the death penalty has fallen, but a majority still approves its use.
Source: Gallup, latest that May 2012 (gay and lesbian relations and abortion); Gallup, latest of October 2011 (marijuana); Gallup, latest that ofOctober 2011 (death penalty).
Public Policy vs Private Morality
In recent surveys on issues such as gay marriage, Americans are moving in a more liberal direction on the policy ques-tions, even as they say that for them personally, the behavior is morally wrong. In other areas, views are moving in tan-dem. Around half now say the use of marijuana should be legal and nearly that many say that it is morally acceptable.When it comes to the death penalty, most favor its use and believe it is morally acceptable. On other issues such as abor-tion, policy views have not changed. Most Americans tell Gallup that abortion should be legal only under certain circum-stances, while a bare majority believes that it is morally wrong to have an abortion. On other issues, from extramaritalsexual relations to cloning to wearing fur, there has been little movement over the past decade.
Favor death penalty for a personconvicted of murderMarijuana shouldbe made illegalOppose allowing gays andlesbians to marry legallyAbortion should be illegal under all circumstances
Q: Do you think . . . ?
Marriages between same sex couplesshould be recognized by the lawas valid with the same rights astraditional marriage 27%50%Should not6848
Note: In 1977, when the National Opinion Research Center askedwhether homosexual couples should have the right to marry oneanother, 12 percent said yes, and 73 percent no.Source: Gallup, latest that of 2012.
Q: Next, I’m going to read you a series of statementsabout personal behavior. Regardless of whether or not you think it should be legal, for each one, please tell mewhether you personally believe it is . . .
Sex between two adults of the samegender is morally acceptable42%Morally wrong52
Source: PRRI, October 2012.
(continued on the next page)