According to new national research, Americans have become more accepting of homosexuality of the past 16 years, with over half of those polled saying they support civil unions.

As reported in the Desert Sun, a 1994 Pew Research Centre poll had found that under half its respondents agreed that homosexuality was “a way of life” that should be accepted by society.

But the Public Religion Research Institute’s new report, released last Friday and compiled from a selction of public studies done over the last 20 years, said support for same-sex civil unions had risen from 45 per cent in 2003 to 57 per cent in 2009. The increase in support for same-sex marriage was more modest, but still showed an rise in support from 30 per cent in 2003 to 38 per cent in 2010.

Among religious respondents to the recent polls, Latino Catholics showed more movement toward supporting gay marriage (at 57 per cent) than Latino Protestants (at 22 per cent).

National polls by the Pew Centre have apparently found that younger Americans are much more accepting of LGBT people, and researchers reportedly say that the generational divide over the issue will eventually bring about a collision.

Daniel Cox, director of research for the Public Religion Research Institute and co-author of the report said, “The clergy risk alienating a significant number of young folks if they take a real hard line approach on same-sex marriage”.

Despite such encouraging statistics, in the Proposition 8 issue, 52 per cent of Californians voted for the constitutional amendment which bars gay men and lesbians from marrying. When District Judge Vaughn Walker recently ruled that the ban was unconstitutional, it was expected that same-sex couples would be able to resume wedding plans last week, but opponents were successful in their plea that the ban should remain in place until they have appealed.

The ruling is currently being challenged in federal court, and the ban will remain until December when further proceedings against its lifting are to take place.

Experts believe it wil be another two years before the case comes before the Supreme Court.