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Are Asian Americans fighting for or against the gay rights battle?

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“Being gay and Asian in America is like fighting a two-front battle … One not only has to fight racism and homophobia in society in general, but also stereotypes and lack of representation in the gay community,” says Edward Kai Chiu, a member of the Gay Asian Pacific Support Network (GAPSN). As Chiu’s comment demonstrates, the Asian American community and LGBT communities have often been viewed as separate from each other. The rejection of Vietnamese LGBT groups to march at the 2013 Lunar New Year Tet Parade in California exemplifies the separation of the two communities. In spite of this event, however, statistics show that Asian Americans are becoming increasingly more cognizant and supportive of the LGBT community and gay rights — even compared to the general U.S. population.

The Field Poll suggests an 18 percent increase in the Asian American support of gay marriage in California from 2010 to 2012. In 2010, two years after Proposition 8 against gay marriage passed in California, support for gay marriage from Chinese-Americans, Korean-Americans and Vietnamese-Americans were 41 percent, 25 percent and 32 percent, respectively.

In 2012, the Field Poll reported that approximately 50 percent of Asian Americans approved of gay marriage in California, an increase of 18 percent from 2010.  Similarly, studies from Third Way, a think tank in Washington D.C., show a rapidly growing gay rights support from Asian Americans in the United States. In 2004, only 33.5 percent of Asians supported gay marriage; however, in 2011, 51.5 percent of Asians supported gay marriage.

“Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law — for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”

-       President Barack Obama

The support of gay marriage from Asian Americans has significantly grown in the past several years to the point where it has exceeded the general U.S. support of gay marriage. According to the Gallup poll from May 2012, about 50 percent of the Americans support gay marriage, compared to the 51.5 percent Asian American support according to Third Way. However, this fast growth rate of Asian American support of gay rights is also interesting because about 75 percent of the increase came from people changing their minds.

This transformation of Asian Americans’ conservative views on marriage to more liberal views means more than just a political support for many gay Asian Americans and LGBT in general. These statistics, in addition to the 72 percent Asian American support of Obama’s re-election, represents Asian Americans’ cultural, social, and political reformation that aligns with President Obama’s aim toward equal rights for everyone. As we proceed into President Obama’s second term, Asian Americans stand with the LGBT community in the battle against the law.

2 thoughts on “Are Asian Americans fighting for or against the gay rights battle?

  1. Do you have a link to the Third Way poll? The support for gay rights by Filipino-Americans–most of whom are Catholics–might be a bit high…

  2. Sure thing.
    It doesn’t specify by ethnicity, but when you take a look at religion, Catholics went from 34.5% in 2004 to 52.0% in 2011, so I’d assume the segment that intersect between Asian Americans and Catholics, which should include Catholic Filipino Americans, probably had a positive shift in supporting gay rights. Curious though, do you know why Filipino American support of gay rights is high? It seems like there is a wide disparity among different Asian Americans’ support of gay rights. For example, Korean Americans support gay rights by the lowest percentage around 30 something percent.

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