Last edited: February 14, 2005

Texans’ Opinions On Gays Surveyed

Many Find Behavior Immoral, But Also Say Discrimination Is Problem

Austin American Statesman, May 10, 1999
Box 670, Austin, TX 78767
Fax 512-445-3679

By Juan B. Elizondo Jr., American-Statesman Staff

More than two-thirds of Texans believe that homosexual behavior is immoral, but more than half also say discrimination against gays and lesbians is a serious problem in the state, according to the latest Texas Poll.

It was the first time the poll had asked about homosexuality, so there are no data to make historical comparisons.

However, state Rep. Glen Maxey, the state’s only openly gay lawmaker, said the results follow those of every other survey he has seen on gay rights and other issues related to homosexuality.

"There are people with strong religious values that have opinions whether homosexuality is right or not," said Maxey, D-Austin. "But people are fair-minded: ‘Even though I disagree with a person’s consensual behavior, they shouldn’t lose their job or be discriminated against.’ I think people are rational, and they are fair."

The poll results, released today, were based on a telephone survey of 1,003 adult Texans between March 30 and April 17. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points, meaning the results can vary that much in either direction.

The results show 68 percent of Texans believe homosexuality is immoral, while 55 percent believe discrimination against homosexuals is a problem.

The poll also found that 60 percent of adult Texans believe the state should not recognize same-sex marriages and that 54 percent favor a law to prohibit gays and lesbians from acting as adoptive or foster parents for children in state custody.

Proposals to prevent the recognition of gay marriages and to prevent gays from being adoptive or foster parents are pending in the House, but time is running out. The session ends May 31.

Dianne Hardy-Garcia, executive director of the Texas Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby, said responses in the poll are likely based on strongly held personal and religious beliefs. She said even though those opinions are discouraging, she’s happy that a majority of people find discrimination against gays and lesbians to be a problem.

"What I’m concerned about is the ability to protect my family," she said. "There’s a growing sense that discrimination and violence against gays and lesbians is a problem."

In another question, Texans were deadlocked over whether consensual gay sex between adults should be legal. To that question, 41 percent said it should be legal; 41 percent said it should be illegal; and 19 percent didn’t respond or said they didn’t know. The numbers don’t add up to 100 percent because of rounding.

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