A Gallup survey released Thursday, touted as the largest study ever aimed at estimating the LGBT community in the US, has sparked controversy. Pro-gay activists are contesting the poll result that says only 3.4 percent of US adults identify as LGBT.
The Gallup survey was conducted by telephone, June 1 through Sept. 30, and has a margin of sampling error of approximately 1 percentage point. The results were based on answers 121,290 respondents gave to the question, "Do you, personally, identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender?"
Of the total, 3.4 percent answered "yes," 92.2 percent "no," and 4.4 percent did not answer.
Lead author Gary Gates of the UCLA School of Law's Williams Institute, said the findings of the survey should debunk current stereotypes about gays and lesbians promoted by the media and reveal that the gay community is more diverse than they have been portrayed.
The Associated Press reports he said:
"Contemporary media often think of LGBT people as disproportionately white, male, urban and pretty wealthy. But this data reveal that relative to the general population, the LGBT population has a larger proportion of nonwhite people and clearly is not overly wealthy...
"If you spend a lot of time watching network television, you would think most LGBT people are rich white men who live in big cities. These data suggest the LGBT community reflects more of the diversity in the U.S. population."
According to the survey, 4.6 percent of African-Americans identified as LGBT, 4 percent of Hispanics, 4.3 percent of Asians and 3.2 percent of Whites.
The study reports that 3.6 percent of women identified as LGBT, compared to 3.3 percent of men. Younger adults, aged 18 to 29, were three times more likely than adults in the age group 65 and above to identify as gay. Analysts interpret this as reflecting the growing acceptance of LGBT identity among younger people.
In the 18 to 29 age group, 8.3 percent of women identified as LGBT, compared to 4.6 percent of men the same age. Analysts remark that this is a striking gender-related gap.
The survey also asked respondents about their political leaning, and found that 44 percent of LGBT adults identified as Democratic, 43 percent independent and 13 percent as Republican. .
According to the survey, 71 percent of LGBT registered voters supported Obama, while 22 percent support Romney.
Self-Identification as LGBT was highest among Americans with the lowest educational attainment. Americans with high school education, 3.5 percent; those with college degree, 2.8 percent; those with post-graduate degrees 3.2 percent.
Among Americans earning less than $24,000, 5 percent identified as LGBT, compared to 2.8 percent among those earning more than $60,000 a year. However, 35 percent of respondents who identified as LGBT reported they earned less than $24,000, compared to 24 percent of the population.
According to the survey, 20 percent of LGBT individuals said they are married, 18 percent were living with a partner. The respondents, however, were not asked about the gender of their partners or spouses. On the other hand, 54 percent of non-LGBT Americans said they were married, and 4 percent living with a partner.
Pro-family and pro-gay activists dispute Gallup poll result
Pro-family activists accept the estimate that only 3.4 percent of US adults are LGBT, saying it is consistent with previous studies. They hold that the Gallup survey contradicts the estimate of 10 percent "often touted by pro-gay activists."
The Christian Post, a pro-family website, for instance, comments that the Gallup figure "falls far short of numbers routinely tossed around by pro-homosexual groups who claim that approximately 10 percent or more of the population have homosexual tendencies."
According to The Christian Post , Dr. Michael Brown, author of A Queer Thing Happened to America, says the claim that 1 in 10 people are gay is founded on "myth." He said: "First, the numbers are no surprise. Gallup's sample is so large that it makes inflating the numbers difficult. The pro-homosexual community tends to use double-digit numbers for their own use, but in reality, most gay activists realize the numbers are smaller but just want everyone to believe they are much larger."
Pro-gay organizations and activists dispute the 3.4 percent figure, saying it is not accurately representative of "gay America." Allison Hope, writing in The Huffington Post, disputes the figure:
"...there are some major flaws... Firstly, the data was compiled via phone calls. Strangers called people's homes across the country and asked them point-blank, 'Are you gay?'... if some stranger called me on the phone from some undisclosed location in a possibly homophobic town, I sure as hell might lie...
"The survey also asserts that there are more LGBT Americans of color than white LGBT Americans and more LGBT women than LGBT men, and that LGBT people have lower education and income... But... The stereotypical rich, white gay man... is probably less likely than others to freely disclose to a faceless voice on the other end of the phone his sexual identity."
"The poll also leaves out many nuances of the gender-variant rainbow. There are plenty of people who are not straight and would probably admit to that if they were given more choices than "lesbian," "gay," "bisexual" and "transgender." Perhaps the question should have been, "Are you not straight?"