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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Three is the new 10

Sounds about right:

Less than 3 percent of the U.S. population identify themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday in the first large-scale government survey measuring Americans’ sexual orientation.

The National Health Interview Survey, which is the government’s premier tool for annually assessing Americans’ health and behaviors, found that 1.6 percent of adults self-identify as gay or lesbian, and 0.7 percent consider themselves bisexual.

The overwhelming majority of adults, 96.6 percent, labeled themselves as straight in the 2013 survey. An additional 1.1 percent declined to answer, responded “I don’t know the answer” or said they were “something else.”

The figures offered a slightly smaller assessment of the size of the gay, lesbian and bisexual population than other surveys, which have pegged the overall proportion at closer to 3.5 or 4 percent. In particular, the estimate for bisexuals was lower than in some other surveys.

For years, the figure 10 percent was thrown around even though it was mostly just made up by our good friends at the Kinsey Institute. And surveys in recent years have shown that Americans generally wildly overestimate the percentage of gays and lesbians; in 2002 those surveyed by Gallup guessed upwards of 25 percent of Americans were gay or lesbian. 

We could argue all day long about what an acceptance of the true number might mean in policy debates. On the one hand, it makes the push for gay-marriage rights seem less urgent. On the other hand, that makes the cultural impact much less signficant.

But it's important to know the real number and take it into account in our discussions.



Wed, 07/16/2014 - 10:57am

So any minority has no rights unless they are an arbitrary percent of the population?  You could surely come up with something better than that.

Leo Morris
Wed, 07/16/2014 - 11:03am

Don't believe that's quite what I said.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 11:56am

Leo, you wrote that the smaller number makes the push for gay-marraige "seem less urgent" and the cultural impact "much less significant".   This is a back door attempt to minimalize the issue, you know, no big deal because not may effected.  The issue is no more or no less important depending on numbers is my point but if it is, let's raise the tax rate on the top .01 percent to 99%, after all it won't effect to many people.