DADT Poll: “Gay Men and Lesbians” vs. “Homosexuals”

A new poll by The New York Times and CBS News finds most people support “gay men and lesbians” but less people support “homosexuals” serving openly in the U.S. military.

Here’s how the Times describes it:

The results highlight the importance of wording on the issue. In a test, half of the poll’s respondents were asked their opinion on permitting “gay men and lesbians” to serve, and the other half were asked about permitting “homosexuals” to serve.

The wording of the question proved to make a difference. Seven in 10 respondents said they favor allowing “gay men and lesbians” to serve in the military, including nearly 6 in 10 who said they should be allowed to serve openly. But support was somewhat lower among those who were asked about allowing “homosexuals” to serve, with 59 percent in favor, including 44 percent who support allowing them to serve openly.

Democrats in the poll seemed particularly swayed by the wording. Seventy-nine percent of Democrats said they support permitting gay men and lesbians to serve openly. Fewer Democrats however, just 43 percent, said they were in favor of allowing homosexuals to serve openly. Republicans and independents varied less between the two terms.

In a recent post titled “Is ‘Homosexual’ Making a Comeback?” by fellow NLGJA blogger Michael Triplett, it was noted that the word “homosexuality” was seemingly being used more often lately as a result of the DADT coverage.

As journalists seeking fair and accurate coverage of LGBT issues, it is clear that the results from this new poll only underscore that we must continue to be vigilant in educating the media that their LGBT-related word choices do indeed make a difference.

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One Response

  1. Gay people don’t like being called “homosexual” any more than you would put “heterosexual” on your wedding invitations or birth announcements.

    It’s the “sex” that turns people off, and gays are so much more than just people who have intercourse.

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