New Poll Shows More Americans “strongly support” Same-Sex Marriage

Religious Embrace
Helping Fuel Support
    for Gay Marriage, Expert

Landmark Poll Finds
More Strong Support
                                                           Than Strong Opposition

For the first time, a new poll shows more Americans
“strongly support” same-sex marriage than “strongly oppose” it, a finding that
could be attributed to changes occurring within organized religions, says a
Presbyterian elder and lay preacher.

“For 2,000 years, religion has been the genesis of antipathy
toward homosexuals, but now, three major American denominations have approved
ordination of openly gay clergy,” says Paul Hartman, a retired PBS/NPR station
executive and author of The Kairos (, a novel that
imagines Jesus as gay.

“Gay has become the civil rights issue of the 21st century,”
he says.

The May survey of more than 1,000 adults found a dramatic
reversal from earlier surveys: more adults now “strongly support” same-sex
marriage rights (39 percent) than “strongly oppose” them (32 percent). 
Over all, Langer Research Associates says, 53 percent of Americans believe
same-sex marriages should be legalized – up from only 36 percent just six years

“Episcopalian, Lutheran and Presbyterian denominations have
overturned centuries of tradition in welcoming openly gay clergy,” Hartman says.
“There’s a growing realization that religion can and should help lead us all
toward a more mature understanding and acceptance of minority sexual

In 2012, he says, there is a new human rights landscape in
the United States. He cites these additional recent developments:

• The U.S. military joined 43 other
countries when it repealed “Don’t ask, don’t tell” and allowed openly-gay
service members.

• Same-sex marriages are now legal
in six states and the District of Columbia. Three other states — Washington,
Maryland and California — have same-sex marriage under active consideration.
Eleven more offer “civil union”-type status for same-sex couples.

• A federal appeals court in Boston
recently struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (which defines marriage as
“one man, one woman”), making consideration by the U.S. Supreme Court almost

• Dr. Robert Spitzer, one of the
last nationally-respected scholars whose studies lent credence to “gay
reparative” therapies, recently offered a retraction and apology to the gay

“Unfortunately, the occasionally hateful crowd still
resonates with a very small group of people, including those headed by preacher
Fred Phelps and congregants, who continue to make news as they picket the
funerals of soldiers and celebrities,” Hartman says.

Western cultures’ condemnation of same-sex love appears to
have originated from Judeo-Christian scriptures, but contemporary biblical
scholarship amends old interpretations, he says.

“That’s why I wanted to tell a religion-based suspense story
about homophobia,” Hartman says. “It addresses fear of all kinds, because in
passage after biblical passage, scripture tells humans who are facing change,
sickness, alienation, death, and everything else: ‘fear not.’  It applies
to homophobia, as well.”

About Paul

Paul Hartman is a retired PBS/NPR station executive with a
passion for biblical history. He is a Presbyterian elder, a lay preacher and a
Dead Sea Scrolls aficionado. Hartman, a father and grandfather, confesses he is
a lifelong fear-fighter.