BREAKING: Poll results show broad support for gay rights among Texas voters

An overwhelming majority of registered voters in Texas say they support a significant expansion of gay rights, according to the first-ever in-depth statewide poll on LGBT issues.

The scientific poll commissioned by Equality Texas surveyed voters on 12 key issues, from civil unions to workplace discrimination to school bullying. On 10 of the 12 questions, a majority of respondents said they would support an expansion of gay rights. The only two issues on which the LGBT community didn’t receive majority support were same-sex marriage and recognition of same-sex marriages from other states.

“Equality Texas envisions a state where all Texans are treated equally, with dignity and respect,” the group said in a press release. “This first-ever statewide poll on these rights clearly shows our vision is already shared by the vast majority of Texans. This concrete data demonstrates a bipartisan shared vision that crosses all demographic lines: political party affiliation, race, age and geographic location.”

Equality Poll 2010, conducted by The Glengariff Group Inc. and released earlier today, surveyed 1,000 registered voters between Aug. 29 and Sept. 2. The poll has a margin of error of 3.1 percent.

Here’s a snapshot of key findings:

To read a summary of the poll, go here. To read the full poll data, go here. We’ll have much more on the poll in Friday’s Dallas Voice.

—  John Wright

Poll: Most Texans favor relationship recognition for gays

Lyceum Poll is fourth survey in 2 years to show majority supports same-sex marriage or civil unions

John Wright  |  Online Editor wright@dallasvoice.com

Dennis Coleman
Dennis Coleman

For the fourth time in two years, a statewide poll has shown that a majority of Texans support marriage or civil unions for same-sex couples.

In the 2010 Texas Lyceum Poll, released Tuesday, Oct. 5, 28 percent of respondents said they support same-sex marriage, 24 percent said they support civil unions, and 40 percent said they oppose any legal status, with the remaining 8 percent undecided. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 3.75 percent.

Dennis Coleman, executive director of Equality Texas, said the poll results should prove helpful heading into the 2011 legislative session.

“It’s very significant,” Coleman said. “For any legislator who might be a little leery about moving forward, hopefully this gives them some sense of confidence.

“It definitely strengthens the conversation for us to have that,” Coleman said of the poll results. “This definitely gives us some ammunition of where Texans are right now, and where they’re moving.”

In February, a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll showed that 63 percent supported same-sex marriage or civil unions.

In 2009, UT/Texas Tribune and Texas Lyceum polls showed that 61 percent and 57 percent of Texans supported marriage or civil unions.

“The fact that you’re getting the same results across different methodologies and different polling formats, suggests that the result is what it is,” said pollster Daron Shaw, a political science professor at UT.

In 2005, Texas voters approved a ballot measure prohibiting both same-sex marriage and “any legal status identical or similar to marriage,” by a margin of 3-1.

However, fewer than 20 percent of registered voters cast ballots in the off-year election. And LGBT advocates have long said they believe some voters didn’t realize the amendment would ban not only same-sex marriage but also civil unions.

Coleman acknowledged that in order to legislatively establish civil unions in Texas, the state must first undo the amendment, which would require a two-thirds majority of lawmakers and another ballot measure.

“In the meantime, there are some ways you can recognize relationships through hospital visitation rights, through recognition of family relationships to children,” Coleman said, adding that Equality Texas wants to conduct its own, more specific polling on LGBT issues.

“For certain communities, marriage is not No. 1; protecting their jobs is No. 1,” Coleman said. “For some protecting their families, having both parents names on a birth certificate, is No. 1. We’re not just all about marriage.”

Shaw said the Texas Tribune may also conduct polling on other LGBT issues during the session that begins in January.

Debate over same-sex marriage has been “polarized by elites” and is a “difficult sell” in Texas due to people’s religious beliefs, Shaw said.

But if you offer them options like civil unions, many will take the middle ground.

“It’s not clear to me that statewide there’s a huge market for real hardcore socially conservative positions.” Shaw said. “When it comes to questions of personal liberty or personal freedom, there’s a strong Libertarian strain in Texas. I think that’s kind of what you see when you look at the gay marriage question.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 08, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

4th consecutive poll shows majority of Texans support either civil unions or gay marriage

The 2010 Texas Lyceum poll was released Tuesday, and for the second straight year, more than half of respondents said they support some form of legal relationship status for same-sex couples — whether it be civil unions or marriage.

According to the poll of 725 adult Texans from Sept. 22-30, 24 percent support civil unions, 28 percent support same-sex marriage, and 40 percent oppose both civil unions and gay marriage. That means a total of 52 percent support some form of relationship recognition, with 8 percent apparently not responding to the question.

This support for relationship recognition is actually down from the 2009 Lyceum poll, when 57 percent said they supported either marriage or civil unions, and only 36 percent opposed both.

But it marks the fourth consecutive statewide poll to show that a majority of Texans support either civil unions or marriage.

As Texas Politics Project Director Jim Henson put it in February: “This seems to be rapidly becoming not a question of what’s in public opinion. What’s in public opinion is becoming kind of a settled issue. Now the question is one of leadership and politics.”

—  John Wright

Local gay veteran offers $500 for meeting with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison to discuss DADT

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, apparently doesn’t give a damn what her constituents think about repealing “don’t ask don’t tell.”

Dave Guy-Gainer, a retired Air Force chief master sergeant who lives in Tarrant County, is offering $500 in cold hard cash to anyone who can set up a face-to-face meeting for him — pronto — with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas.

Gainer, a board member for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network who made the offer Monday morning, wants to speak with Hutchison about the repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell,” which — God willing — will be voted on by the full Senate later this month. Hutchison has indicated she plans to vote against DADT repeal. But Gainer lamented that she’s seemingly made up her mind without ever even discussing the issue with constituents like himself who support repeal:

“Despite many attempts over the years, we have never been able to discuss the issue with her face to face,” Gainer wrote to Instant Tea. “During SLDN Lobby Day last spring, we had a meeting arranged with a DC staffer. Myself, three other constituents and a retired Army Major General arrived at the appointed time. The staffer was not there. After a two hour wait in her lobby, we were told that ‘oh, we forgot you were here.’ Other Texans have attempted to meet with her and have met with a brick wall as well. In my one voter opinion, I am not represented by a Senator who refuses to even hear what a constituent has to say about a topic as impacting as is DADT. I am certain of her vote against repeal. That is, unless she chooses to have discourse with constituents who  might convince her that repeal is warranted.

“My $500 bounty stands,” Gainer added, “but I doubt that I’ll ever have to award it.”

—  John Wright

Letters and comments

Candidates owe voters a debate

Texans will decide who will lead the state for the next four years in the Nov. 2 General Election. To cast an informed ballot, voters must learn the views of those vying for office and are ill-served when candidates are unwilling to debate or to participate in processes the public relies on for information about candidates and issues.

The League of Women Voters of Texas calls on all candidates, in races from governor on down the ballot, to be available to the public and to the media, without imposing arbitrary conditions, so that Texans can cast an informed ballot in this election.

According to LWV-Texas President Karen Nicholson, “Voters are turned off and don’t vote when those running for office aren’t available, and voter turnout in recent Texas elections has been disappointing. Texas was 46th among the states in turnout of voter eligible population in the 2008 election. We must do better, and candidates who make themselves available to voters are crucial to improving voter turnout.”

The League of Women Voters has been agitating and educating for active, informed public participation in government for all of its 90 years. There is no more important form of public participation than voting, which must be encouraged, not suppressed.

From The League of Women Voters of Texas


‘To shop or not to shop at Target?’ (DallasVoice.com, 8/27/10)

Boycotting is a tough thing to do. I haven’t been to a Cinemark theater since 2008 when Alan Stock donated $10,000 to Yes on 8, and the company refused to make any real amends besides a token meeting with CCGLA, from which we’ve heard nothing since. But how many people went to see the movie “Milk” elsewhere, but have quietly returned to Cinemark?

If you decide to boycott, and that is totally up to you, it’s important to let management know that 1) you are indeed boycotting, and 2) the specific reasons for the boycott. Also, it helps to send a reminder from time to time, like a note or Christmas card telling them you’re still boycotting their store.

Simply griping on blogs for a week or a month isn’t enough. If folks decide that boycotting in the way to go, they must stay dedicated to their stance until the company proves otherwise. PR firms tell companies just to bide their time and issues like these will blow over. Without continuing pressure from the community, they do and will.

If companies are hurt enough in the almighty wallet, sooner or later they’ll think twice about donating to anti-gay causes and candidates.

Justin Nichols


‘St. Vincent’s dean defends school’ (DallasVoice.com, 8/27/10)

While you and the other parents are certainly entitled to your personal opinion, please tell me where in the Bible Jesus Christ says that a faithful, lifelong relationship can only be between a husband and wife.

The closest reference I can find is, “I give you a new commandment. Love one another,” which obviously refers back to the woefully misquoted and mistranslated strictures from Leviticus, having to do with Jewish and non-Jewish behaviors and mores.

Meanwhile, please don’t misuse Jesus to justify homophobia. That would be called, “bearing false witness,” not to mention “taking the name of God in vain.”

I thought Christian values were about inclusion, not exclusion. It’s also interesting to note that per Wikipedia, St. Vincent “was renowned for his compassion, humility and generosity.”

The sexual part is really none of your business, or that of the other parents, now is it?

The school should be teaching tolerance and acceptance, not promoting misinformation. The little girl and her parents should be welcomed with open arms. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Thank you for an opportunity to respond. God bless us everyone!

Maurice

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TO SEND A LETTER  | We welcome letters from readers. Shorter letters and those addressing a single issue are more likely to be printed. Letters are subject to editing for length and clarity, but we attempt to maintain the writer’s substance and tone. Include  your home address and a daytime telephone number for verification. Send letters to the senior editor, preferably by e-mail (nash@dallasvoice.com). Letters also may be faxed (214-969-7271) or sent via the U.S. Postal Service (Dallas Voice, 4145 Travis St., Third Floor, Dallas TX 75204). All letters become the property of Dallas Voice.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 3, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

What do you think of the new Bill White ad questioning Rick Perry’s manhood?

Perry Coward Ad

The above advertisement appeared Tuesday in nearly two dozen Texas newspapers, according to The Dallas Morning News. The ad, paid for by the Back to Basics PAC, labels Republican Gov. Rick Perry a “coward” for refusing to debate Democratic challenger Bill White or interview with newspaper editorial boards. The ad goes on to urge people to, “Tell Rick Perry to stop cowering and face Texans like a man.”

White is trailing Perry by 8 points in the latest polls, and some are suggesting that this machismo contest won’t be enough to make up the deficit. What are your thoughts?

—  John Wright

Disappointed in Dan Choi

Dear Lt. Dan Choi,

When I attended the National Equality March in October 2009, I went with hopes of being inspired, becoming more informed, and a fire to fuel my college town and the city where I came out, which has been plagued as one of the most conservative cities in the nation. While gathering for the march to the nation’s Capitol, I was awestruck by the thousands of people who surrounded me. Queer college students from Connecticut, various gay couples who had been together for many years in a partnership that is not legally recognized, children with their same-sex parents, out of the closet, in the closet, Texans, Mexicans, Blacks, Asians, veterans, and even dogs donning rainbow attire. I no longer felt alone in my passion for fighting for what is right. I met people who had, like myself, scrounged together money to be able to attend such a momentous and life-changing event. I was 19 years old, in college, and ready to begin my journey to changing the world.

That day, I heard Cleve Jones speak. “We don’t organize to march, we march to organize.” he said. That sentence impacted me tremendously. He had just given me a huge responsibility. He told me that the fight didn’t stop on the grassy lawn of the Capitol. He forced me to make my scope of reality wider and bigger than I had anticipated. This wasn’t about me being at the National Equality March. This wasn’t about marching with 155,000 people who wanted the same thing as I did. This was about me going back to my small, conservative college town and creating my own movement. I took his words to heart, but I still wasn’t sold.

I was sitting on the ground when you began speaking. Then I heard you say, “But of all those things that are worth fighting for, love is worth it. Love is worth it!” I got goosebumps and immediately rose to see you speak, despite my exhaustion. As you were finishing, I had tears in my eyes. What you said impacted me more than any other speaker that day. I had then decided that I was in undeniable agreement with you — that love was worth it. Love was worth what were to be sleepless nights, three-hour conference calls, upsetting those who didn’t want change, inspiring those who did, and growing into myself all at the same time. Because of you, I decided that love was worth traveling to places to participate in demonstrations and protests when I couldn’t afford it, holding people in the movement accountable for their actions, educating those who were ignorant, and loving those who hate. After all, no amount of money can equate to love, right?

Since the march, I watched your speech over and over again to the point of memorization. For a long while, people would ask me why I am an activist, and I would say simply, “Because love is worth it.” Since that march, I began the arduous journey to get you to speak at my school, Texas Tech University. While speaking to your extremely rude agent, hype began to spread about your appearance. People were excited, and I just knew with my entire being that if I could get you to speak to the people I help every day, a fire would be lit in the queer community of Lubbock, Texas. To me, the mere hope of reaching out to those who meet my words with deaf ears was worth putting up with your agent and the exorbitant amount of $10,000 to get you out here. I never for a moment questioned why it was that much, or why you were charging anything at all.

I had the privilege of speaking during an event to commemorate the 41st anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion in Dallas. I spoke to the marchers with intensity and all of the passion I had. I made sure they felt every word to the core just as I did when I heard you speak. I ended with telling them to, “Own their own truth.” Many have wondered what that means. I’ll explain it as this: Owning your own truth is holding yourself accountable as a participating person for the progress of the movement. Owning your truth can start by coming out, loving yourself, loving others like you and who differ from you, and progressing to sacrificing and putting together events for the movement for equality.

Make sure you read the definition of owning your own truth carefully.

About a month ago, after nine months of dealing with your agent, I received an e-mail directly from you. In short, you basically said that the only way I could get you to speak is if I raised enough money to bring you to Tech. No deals, no compromises, end of story.

Sir, before I say my point, I want to say that I respect you as a servicemember and war veteran of this country. My brother graduated from the Air Force Academy a year after you graduated from West Point, and I have the utmost respect for both of you for that. I appreciate your service and risking your life to protect mine.

However, I’ve lost all respect for you as a gay- and human-rights activist. In the course of my two short years as an activist in the communities I have lived in, I have met amazing people such as Irene Andrews, C.d. Kirven and Michael Robinson, who travel from city to city, state to state with their own money and ask NOTHING from those who request their speaking services. These people, like myself, live, breath and eat queer activism. They live to inspire others. They live to show the compassion of love to others. They have not lost sight of what is truly important here: equality for all.

You, sir, have lost sight in one of those many $10,000 checks written to you, of why you came out and became an activist in the first place. Remember, Lt. Choi? LOVE IS WORTH IT. LOVE is worth cutting a deal to poor college kids in an extremely conservative city who’s only desire is to make headway in their community. LOVE is worth sacrificing money to give my friends and others who are currently serving in silence the hope to remember they are worth it. Love isn’t made by money. Love isn’t made by your agent, Alec Melman. Love isn’t tangible when you’re suffocated by greed as you are. Love is constantly flowing through the heart and brain. Love is giving. Love isn’t defined by financial status, color, gender, creed, age or sexual orientation.

Your definition of love is no longer my definition of love.

So, I ask you, Lt. Choi: Own your truth. Hold yourself accountable for your actions. Look at what you preach and see if it matches your actions. Think about when you were my age, just going into West Point, and feeling alone next to your brothers and sisters. Remember Matthew. Remember Irene, C.d. and Michael. Remember me. Remember those 155,000 people who heard your words. After you do that, think about those in Lubbock, Texas, and other cities who couldn’t “afford” you and how you could have changed their lives.

This is about love, sir. Not money.

Best,
Nonnie Ouch

Texas Tech University
Gay-Straight Alliance
President
http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1515030199

—  John Wright

Shocker: Texas only 20th-most conservative state

Texas is becoming more liberal — or at least less rabidly conservative — according to rankings released Monday by Gallup. The rankings, based on polls conducted from January through June, list Texas as the 20th-most conservative state in the U.S. in 2010. Last year, Texas was the 11th-most conservative state.

This year, 43 percent of Texans identified as conservative, while 35 percent identified as moderate and 18 percent identified as liberal, giving the state a conservative advantage of 25 points. The average across the country is a 20-point conservative advantage (only in the District of Columbia and Rhode Island do liberals outnumber conservatives). At No. 20, Texas is sandwiched between West Virginia and Alaska.

—  John Wright