Annual study shows 60% of Harris residents back same-sex marriage
By Emily Lincke
Amid an anti-LGBT political climate, the 2017 Kinder Houston Area Survey showed increased support for “gay rights” among Harris County residents.
Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research published results from the 36th annual survey, authored by founding director and sociology professor Stephen Klineberg, earlier this month. The Kinder Institute polled over 1,600 residents from Harris, Fort Bend and Montgomery counties on topics including diversity, government involvement and the environment.
This year’s survey found that 56 percent of Harris County residents believe homosexuality is “morally acceptable,” an increase of 21 percent since 2009. The survey did not include questions pertaining specifically to “trans rights,” but according to Klineberg, this was not a deliberate choice.
“You can see from [the list of questions asked in the 2017 survey] how difficult it is to add any new questions to a survey that already takes an average of 25 minutes to complete,” he said. “There was no conscious decision to not ask a question about transgender rights this year; there are just so many interesting questions to explore.”
However, Klineberg said he’s open to adding a question about trans rights in 2018.
“We should plan to do so in next year’s survey,” he said. “Suggestions of questions in this area would be welcomed.”
In 2015, voters overwhelmingly repealed the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), based largely on fear-mongering about trans people from anti-LGBT groups. That same year, the Kinder survey found that 60 percent of respondents supported a local ordinance protecting people against general discrimination.
In 2017, participants were asked four questions explicitly addressing homosexuality. The statement that, “marriages between homosexuals should be given the same legal status as heterosexual marriages” received a clear majority of support, 60 percent, from Harris County respondents.
Klineberg said growing support for the LGBT community could stem from a rising comfort with general diversity. The study also proposed that an increasingly progressive mindset in younger generations may have caused a higher level of public acceptance.
Whatever the cause, there is no debating that a consistent trend has emerged in Houston. Only time will tell how it will impact the rights of LGBT Houstonians.