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Gay acceptance in Harris County

Not too shabby.


Harris County, once known as reliably conservative, has become increasingly progressive on social issues such as same-sex marriage and the death penalty, according to a new poll by Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research.

The shifting cultural consensus reflects changes in public attitudes across the country but stands apart from Republican-led Texas as a whole. And views in Harris County seem likely to continue evolving as it becomes younger and more diverse, said Stephen Klineberg, a sociologist who conducted the survey.

Perhaps most striking are the shifting attitudes on gay rights, with general acceptance coming in less than a generation.

When Klineberg first asked the question in 1993, just 31 percent of Harris County residents said they supported same-sex couples having the right to marry. That number has risen steadily ever since and hit a record high in the new poll – 51 percent of those surveyed.

And more people in Harris County than ever, 51 percent, believe same-sex couples should be able to adopt children. That’s up from 17 percent in 1991, according to the Kinder Institute.

The random survey of 809 adults, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points, was completed in early March, just weeks before the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments over whether the Constitution guarantees gay couples the right to marry.

The full survey is here. Given the general partisan tendencies of Houston versus non-Houston Harris County, one might reasonably surmise that support for gay rights in general and same sex marriage in particular is higher in the city than in the surrounding area. I wouldn’t make too much of it, and remember that a survey of adults is very different from a poll of registered or likely voters, but it’s my guess. Regardless, the main takeaway here is that the opposition is clearly on the losing side, their numbers are shrinking, and there’s no turning back. I think they know it, too, which is why the fight over the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance is (dishonestly) framed by them as being about bathrooms and sexual predators. Deception is their best bet, quite possibly their only one. Hair Balls has more.

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