August 20, 2013

Half of Americans say sexual orientation cannot be changed


While half of Americans say that a gay or lesbian person’s sexual orientation cannot be changed, 36% say it can.

New Jersey has become the second state, after California, to ban “conversion therapy,” which seeks to change the sexual orientation of gay minors. Republican Gov. Chris Christie signed the bill into law on Monday after it passed both houses of the state legislature in June.

A 2012 Pew Research Center survey found that roughly half of Americans (51%) say that a gay or lesbian person’s sexual orientation cannot be changed, while 36% say it can be changed. In 2003, opinion on this question was divided, with 42% saying one’s sexual orientation can be changed and an equal share (42%) saying it cannot.

Christie, who is reported to be considering a presidential run in 2016, has said that he believes people are born gay and that homosexuality is not a sin. A 2013 Pew Research survey shows that public opinion is still divided on these questions.

About four-in-ten (41%) Americans say that “people are born gay or lesbian,” while 42% say homosexuality is “just the way some people choose to live” and 8% say being gay or lesbian is “a result of a person’s upbringing.”

Meanwhile, 45% of Americans say homosexual behavior is not a sin and 45% say it is a sin. Among U.S. Catholics, a group that includes Gov. Christie, 53% say homosexual behavior is not a sin while 33% say it is a sin.

Category: Daily Number

Topics: Gay Marriage and Homosexuality

  1. Photo of Michael Lipka

    is a senior editor focusing on religion at Pew Research Center.


  1. Trenton Gregory4 years ago

    Half of Americans … Think you only use ten percent of your brain! Regardless of the medical research and scientific information. The problem is most Americans feel entitled to express an opinion about information they simply don’t comprehend. Some actual respect for scientific studies on human sexuality might put us on a road to equality and mutual respect.

    1. Roger4 years ago

      The “you only use 10% of your brain figure” isn’t completely inaccurate — different parts of your brain are used do different things. At any one time, depending on what you’re currently doing, most of them are not being used, and so are fairly inactive. Typically only somewhere about 10% of your brain is currently in use — but which 10% depends on what you’re doing at the time, and pretty much all of it gets used at some time for something.

  2. Quashanda4 years ago

    I strongly agree with same sex marriages

  3. Nancy D.4 years ago

    Since it is true that sexual orientation refers to desire and not personhood, what gene is involved when those who exist in relationship as husband and wife do not desire to engage in the act of adultery?

    Regardless of desire or consent to engage in sexual acts, we remain men and women. It is a scientific fact that men and women are designed in such a way that it is physically impossible to engage in same-sex sexual acts without demeaning the inherent personal and relational Dignity of those persons engaging in same-sex sexual acts.

    There are many types and degrees of disordered inclinations, including disordered sexual inclinations, some more difficult to overcome than others. All persons have the ability to overcome their disordered inclinations, heal their wounds, and through God’s Grace and Mercy, learn to develop healthy and Holy relationships that are respectful of themselves and others and thus grounded in authentic Love.

    Our inherent, unalienable Rights that have been endowed to us from God, stem from the fundamental Right of every son and daughter of a human person, from the moment of creation at conception, to be treated with Dignity and Respect in public as well as in private.

    1. en Sanchagrin4 years ago

      It is pretty obvious that you are neither gay nor have close relatives or friends who are gay.

    2. Bartleby454 years ago

      Four paragraphs, all based on one opening sentence—a faulty premise that we’re supposed to assume is true because, well, you say so. My “personhood” does not agree, and though I love the redundancy and the goofy sound of a phrase like “same-sex sexual acts,” I’d be willing to bet that there exist out there some pretty demeaning “different-sex sexual acts” too. And I don’t think “disordered inclinations” are the sole province of the LGBT community; in fact, many of our “best” mass murderers have been quite straight, though their acceptable sexual orientation hasn’t helped them develop those healthy and Holy(sic) relationships.

      If you think gay is wrong, say so. I’m fine with that. But trying to prove it scientifically is just weird, though amusing.

    3. Trenton Gregory4 years ago

      The major mental health organizations DO NOT..see same sex attraction as mental illness or deviant behavior PERIOD.