A University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll this week showed nearly 70 percent of Texans support legal recognition for same-sex couples – the highest percentage since polls began asking the questions in 2009.
The Tribune’s poll showed 36 percent support same-sex marriage and 33 percent support civil unions, for a total of 69 percent in favor of relationship recognition. Although with 25 percent against marriage or civil unions, the data could be interrupted as 58 percent against same-sex marriage.
Still, the findings in support of relationship recognition are 6 points higher than the second-highest result in February 2010, when a Tribune poll found 63 percent of Texans supported relationship recognition, with 28 percent in favor of marriage and 35 percent supporting civil unions.
The new poll is also 9 points higher than a Tribune poll from this February, which showed 31 percent supporting marriage and 29 percent favoring unions, totaling 60 percent in favor.
Erin Moore, who serves as co-chair of National Stonewall Democrats Leadership Council and was a member of the national Platform Committee, said polls are not a good basis for argument, but help get conversations started.
“I think it’s a great gauge of attitude, but I don’t think we should use it as ammunition for a basis for any sort of argument,” she said.
Moore said she questions the new poll because the percentage for marriage equality and civil unions were equal, as it has been in past years. She said she worries if people are against relationship recognition but choose civil unions to not appear bigoted.
“I wonder how much of that is support and how much of that is let me pick the non-bigoted answer but still not say I’m in favor of marriage,” she said.
As for the 9-point jump in support from February and the highest percentage in favor of marriage equality, Moore said that high a jump is a “significant shift” and that President Barack Obama’s public support for same-sex marriage and local efforts have helped the movement.
“What I attribute it to is that we’re continuing to do our work and get out into communities and to let people know that separate but equal doesn’t work in that we are full-fledged citizens who deserve rights that everybody else has, and that word is getting out,” she said.
In May 2011, a Tribune poll found 61 percent of Texans supported gay relationships with the support split between 30 percent backing marriage and 31 percent favoring civil unions.
A Texas Lyceum poll in October 2010 found that Texans supported gay relationships by 52 percent. More than half at 28 percent supported marriage equality and 24 percent supported civil unions.
An Equality Texas poll released in December 2010 asked Texans 12 questions related to LGBT equality. The survey didn’t give an either/or option, but rather asked each question separately, resulting in 43 percent supporting gay marriage and 63 percent favoring civil unions.
In 2009, a Texas Politics Poll found 61 percent of people supported relationship recognition, with 29 percent for marriage equality and 32 percent for civil unions. A Texas Lyceum poll the same year found 57 percent in support, with 25 percent for marriage and 32 percent for civil unions.