A federal judge in Texas has ruled the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, issuing a preliminary injunction after a gay couple and a lesbian couple challenged both a state constitutional amendment and a longstanding law. Judge Orlando Garcia said in his decision that “state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our United States Constitution,” but added that the ban on same-sex marriage would remain in place until an appeals court can rule on the case.
How will Texans react? PRRI’s latest survey–one of the largest studies ever conducted on LGBT issues–provides some insights that may surprise you:
- Today, Texans are evenly divided on the issue of same-sex marriage: 48 percent of Texans favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally, compared to 49 percent who oppose.
- Support for same-sex marriage in Texas has doubled over the last decade. In a 2003 poll from the Pew Research Center, 24 percent of Texans favored allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally, compared to 67% who opposed. This movement in Texas largely mirrors a similar shift among Southerners overall, from 22 percent support in 2003 to 48 percent support in 2013.
- A majority (56 percent) of Texans believe same-sex marriage should be decided at the state level, compared to 37 percent who say it should be decided at the national level.
- 63 percent of Texans say gay and lesbian people face a lot of discrimination in the United States today, compared to 32 percent who disagree.
- Roughly one-third (32 percent) of the state’s residents believe sex between two adults of the same gender is morally acceptable, while 63 percent believe it to be morally wrong.
- More than two-thirds (68 percent) of Texans favor laws to protect gay and lesbian people against job discrimination, while 30 percent oppose.
- 46 percent of Texans say they think living openly as a gay or lesbian person is very difficult or somewhat difficult in their community, compared to half (50 percent) who say it is not too difficult or not at all difficult.
- 65 percent of Texans say they have a close friend or family member who is gay or lesbian, a number that is identical to Americans overall (65 percent).
For more information on how Americans feel about these issues and more, be sure to check out PRRI’s full report by clicking here.
The PRRI results differ substantially from a July 2013 survey conducted Public Policy Polling (PPP) among Texas voters, which found that only 34 percent of Texas voters supported “legalization of same-sex marriage in the state.” There are two important methodological differences between the two surveys. First, PPP surveys use IVR computerized telephone interviews that reach only respondents with landline phones. This sampling methodology systematically undercounts young people, a critical shortcoming on an issue such as same-sex marriage where attitudes vary sharply by age. The PRRI survey was conducted using live professional interviewers, and 40 percent of the sample were interviewed on a cell phone. Additionally, the PPP survey was conducted among registered voters in Texas, while the PRRI survey was conducted among all adults living in the state.
PRRI’s LGBT Issues and Trends Survey is a large national survey (N=4,509), which contains a subset of nearly 300 Texans (N=297). The national survey has a margin of error of +/- 1.7 percentage points, and the Texas subsample has a margin of error of +/-6.6 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
* UPDATED 2/27/2014 AT 6:41 P.M. EST *