Over the last 12 years, Democrats have become significantly more accepting of liberal positions on moral issues such as abortion, premarital sex, extramarital affair, suicide, polygamy and homosexuality, while Republicans' views on these issues have changed little, according to a new Gallup poll.
Since 2002, Democrats have become considerably more tolerant on at least 10 moral issues, which include abortion, sex between an unmarried man and woman, extramarital affairs, cloning humans, divorce, cloning animals, suicide, research using stem cells from human embryos, polygamy, and gay and lesbian relations, according to the Gallup poll released Friday.
The change among Democrats has been substantial in some of these issues. For example, in 2003, 52 percent of Democrats felt having a baby outside of wedlock was morally acceptable. This year, 72 percent of Democrats, a 20-percentage-point increase, say it is morally acceptable.
This is not so with Republicans. In 2003, 40 percent of Republicans said it was morally acceptable. Even today, only 40 percent say so – although a higher 50 percent viewed it as morally acceptable last year, Gallup said.
However, Republicans are slightly more accepting of gay and lesbian relations, sex between an unmarried man and woman and divorce than they were in 2001, when these questions were first asked, the poll points out.
Gallup adds that while Democrats are more likely than Republicans to consider issues like divorce, gambling, medical research using embryos, and having a baby outside of marriage morally acceptable, Republicans are more likely than Democrats to see wearing fur, the death penalty, and medical testing on animals as morally acceptable.
The survey finds that the American public has generally become more accepting on a number of moral issues.
However, four issues – extramarital affairs, cloning humans, polygamy, and suicide – are still considered morally wrong by more than 70 percent of Americans.
Abortion receives neither majority support nor majority disapproval, making it the most contentious issue of the 19 issues tested, the poll finds.
But acceptance of gay and lesbian relations has swelled from 38 percent in 2002 to majority support since 2010.
The poll says that 53 percent of Americans in 2001 and 2002 said sex between an unmarried man and woman was morally acceptable, but in 2014 it is among the most widely accepted issues, at 66 percent. Similarly, less than 50 percent of Americans in 2002 said having a baby outside of wedlock was morally acceptable, but in the past two years, acceptance has been at or near 60 percent.
The poll also says that five percent of Americans viewed polygamy as morally acceptable in 2006, but the acceptance has now increased to 14 percent. "The rise could be attributed to polygamist families being the subject of television shows – with the HBO TV show 'Big Love' one example –- thus removing some of the stigma," Gallup explains.
Results for the poll are based on telephone interviews conducted May 8-11 with a random sample of 1,028 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.