American tolerance has reached record highs on 12 of 19 moral issues, from premarital sex to euthanasia.
Nine in 10 Americans have no problem with birth control, the question with the highest rate of moral acceptability, according to the most recent Gallup poll on the topic of moral right and wrong. The Values and Beliefs survey was conducted May 8-11.
Further, the majority of those polled find divorce, sex between unmarried men and women, stem cell research that uses human embryos, gambling, the death penalty, donning clothing that contains animal fur, having children out of wedlock, gay or lesbian relations and medical testing on animals all "largely acceptable."
That's in contrast to just four items deemed "highly unacceptable": suicide (19 percent say it's OK), polygamy (14 percent) and cloning humans (13 percent). As it did in the previous survey, affairs between married men and women came in dead last on the list of what is taboo, versus what's OK, with just 7 percent giving it a thumbs up.
The survey included a random phone sample of 1,028 adults. Both landlines and cellphones were used. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percent.
In the middle
The list of items between the two extremes is relatively small. The "contentious" category includes doctor-assisted suicide, acceptable to only 52 percent, and abortion, OK with 42 percent of those surveyed. In her briefing, Gallup's Rebecca Riffkin noted that "abortion receives neither majority support nor majority approval, making it the most contentious issue of the 19 tested. The current split is similar to what Gallup measured last year, but is a more even division than the four prior years when at least half said it was morally wrong."
Cloning animals, pornography and sex between teenagers are "largely unacceptable."
Political divide2 comments on this story
The report noted that Democrats are less likely than Republicans to object to divorce, gambling, embryonic research or having a baby out of wedlock. The reverse is true when it comes to wearing fur, supporting the death penalty or medical testing on animals, which more Republicans than Democrats favored.
The report noted that Democrats have become "significantly more tolerant" on moral topics and independents somewhat more tolerant, but Republican views have "changed little." That's most notable on the issue of giving birth outside of marriage. In 2003, just over half of Democrats said that was OK (52 percent), but the number has skyrocketed to 72 percent this year. It has actually lost footing among Republicans, falling from 50 percent last year to 40 percent this year. Independents have stayed the same, at six in 10 finding it acceptable.
Republicans are "slightly more accepting" of gay and lesbian relationships, unmarried sex and divorce than they were back in 2001.
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