Calling Roy Moore controversial is underselling the point a bit.
The front-runner in next week’s Senate runoff race in Alabama twice served as chief justice of that state’s Supreme Court — and twice got in legal trouble in that office for putting his religious values before the law of the land. In 2003, he was removed from office for refusing to take down a statue of the Ten Commandments from the state Supreme Court building. Last year, he was suspended for refusing to uphold a federal mandate that same-sex marriages be recognized in the state.
Moore’s position on homosexuality is probably fairly obvious given that second conflict, but on Thursday, CNN revealed that it at one point went much further. In 2005, Moore told journalist Bill Press that he thought that “homosexual conduct should be illegal.”
Twelve years later, that position seems somewhat hard to fathom. But at the time, it was a contentious issue that Gallup polling indicated had about as many adherents as those who felt that same-sex relations should be legal.
Since that point, Americans have continually come around to the latter view.
What’s remarkable about that graph, though, is that, as of May this year, 23 percent of Americans still think that same-sex relationships should be illegal. Whether Moore is among them is not clear; his campaign didn’t answer CNN’s question on that subject. But given that one in five Americans think that such relationships should be illegal, it would not be surprising if Moore were still among them.
The General Social Survey, a national survey conducted every two years, has regularly asked Americans whether they think sexual relations between adults of the same sex are wrong. Since the 1970s, the percentage saying such relationships are always wrong has steadily declined.
That said, though, the 2016 survey found that three in 10 Democrats, more than a third of independents and more than half of Republicans said that such relationships are always wrong.
Among strong Republicans, a group of which Moore would almost certainly consider himself a member, seven in 10 said such relations were always wrong.
The trend over time is clear: More Americans are more likely to view same-sex relationships as not only legally sound but perfectly acceptable. That said, although the views Moore expressed in 2005 were much more common at that time than they are now, if he still holds those same views, he’s far from the only one to do so.