Sexual Orientation In recent years, policymakers, judges, religious leaders, scholars, and laypeople have openly debated the topic of same-sex marriage. On June 26, 2015, this debate culminated in a historic U.S. Supreme Court landmark ruling that the Constitution “requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-State”. In light of all that has changed, no discussion of human sexuality is complete without a consideration of differences in sexual orientation— defined as one’s sexual preference for members of the same sex (homosexuality), the opposite sex (heterosexuality), both sexes (bisexuality), or neither (asexual).
Recently, the Gallup polling organization asked a sample of 1,017 Americans to estimate the percentage of gay people in the population. Consistent with prior surveys, respondents substantially overestimated that nearly one in four Americans was gay or lesbian.
Just how common is homosexuality, and where does it come from? Through- out history and in all cultures, a vast majority of people have identified as hetero- sexual in their orientation. But how vast a majority is a subject of some debate. A 1970 survey funded by the Kinsey Institute revealed that 3.3% of American men sampled said that they had frequent or occasional homosexual sex (Fay et al., 1989). Between 1989 and 1992, the National Opinion Research Center reported that 2.8% of American men and 2.5% of women had exclusive homo- sexual activity. Together, large-scale surveys in the United States, Europe, Asia, and the Pacific have suggested that the exclusively homosexual population in the world is 3% or 4% among men and about half that number among women (Diamond, 1993). More recently, this number has climbed to 4.5%, especially among younger adults (Newport, 2018).