April 06, 2007

GLBT Equality Advocates Need to Focus on the "Grays"

So what does that mean? It is a term used in this report on The Huffington Post. Writer Geoffrey R. Stone analyzes a new survey by The Third Way Culture Project that reveals "a general national warming trend on issues relating to gays and lesbians." More from that story:

The Third Way report found that heterosexual Americans fall into roughly three equal size categories when it comes to gay issues. The "pro-gay polars" strongly support equal rights for gays and lesbians and do not attach any moral value to sexual orientation. Most of these individuals have come to this view over time and believe that the transformation in their thinking reflects significant insight, understanding, and personal growth. The "anti-gay polars" believe that being gay is "unnatural and against God." They tend to view gays as "societal outlaws." Although they generally oppose violence and bigotry directed against gays, they fear that extending equal rights to gays and lesbians would "put America on a dangerously wrong path." The third group, the "grays," are conflicted. They are torn between their desire to be tolerant, fair, and respectful of individual liberty and their lingering discomfort with homosexuality. The "grays" tend to accept that sexual orientation is not simply a matter of choosing a lifestyle, but they worry that "society is moving too fast."

The Third Way report concluded that those who want to move public opinion along the path toward greater acceptance of equal rights for gays and lesbians should focus particularly on the "grays" and should emphasize three points: (1) Legal protections for same-sex relationships address a real, not a made up problem. (Interestingly, a majority of Americans (56% v. 39%) do not believe that same-sex couples lack significant legal protections.) (2) The legal recognition of same-sex relationships does not undermine the institution of marriage. (Perhaps ironically, at a time when fewer and fewer Americans are marrying, there is a concern that the legal recognition of same-sex relationships could be the death knell for the institution of marriage.) (3) The legal recognition of same-sex relationships represents progress for the nation. (Although 70% of Americans believe the United States will legalize civil unions within a decade, almost half of all Americans worry that this is not progress. They are concerned that greater acceptance of gays and lesbians could cause the erosion of moral standards and damage to children raised in such families.) These are all serious political concerns that merit a serious response.

In the end, the goal, in my view, should be to enlighten all Americans to understand that the legal recognition of equal rights for gays and lesbians is an appropriate extension of the American ideal of equality and the proper next stage in the nation's long and admirable struggle to provide equal treatment to all persons, regardless of race, religion, gender, national origin, disability, and now sexual orientation.

In political elections, the target audience for campaigners is usually the undecided voter. Regarding GLBT issues, a primary target audience for advocates needs to be the "grays." I hope some of them drop by and read this blog.

1 comment:

  1. i love you. but, this gets a big,,, DUH.