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Gay Pride Is Political Target

As June, the annual month of Gay Pride across the United States, drew to a close, studies found that rallies, festivals and parades, staged to affirm homosexuals' orientation and celebrate their contributions, did little to gain acceptance for a class of people historically viewed as aberrant.

But research shows that most Americans still don't think being gay is OK. CBS News Correspondent John Roberts reports on the intolerant attitude toward homosexuality which persists in the United States and the conservative politicians who are capitalizing on the discord.

While the fact of a person's homosexuality may be unremarkable in urban centers like New York and Los Angeles, the Lesbian and Gay Task Force reports that 56 percent of Americans still disapprove of same-gender sexual orientation.

Alan Wolfe, a sociologist at Boston University who studies attitudes toward open homosexuality, says Americans accept other types of social change much more readily. "This could be the issue that never changes - that people will always retain this moral preference for one kind of sexuality over another."

Consider David Hartman, a 29-year-old systems analyst from Northern California. He makes no effort to disguise his bias against homosexuals: "I think it is wrong. I think it is unnatural. I don't think people were created to have sex with he same gender."

The Republican leadership sees an advantage in keeping this divisive issue at the center of their political discourse. On the Armstrong Williams Show, Senate majority leader Trent Lott fanned the flames with moral rhetoric: "Is homosexuality a sin? It is a sin; yes, it is."

Statements like Lott's may help some people justify their prejudice, but for others it is a call to action.

Joan Garry, executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), attributes intolerance to lack of understanding. "There's ignorance, there's fear, there's anxiety about difference...They need to be educated...They need to get to know gays and lesbians."