Dr. Blackwell's BLOG

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Research/Polling Shows Changing Beliefs

Filed under: American Life and Society,GLBT Social Issues and Civil Rights,Politics — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 02:26

hrclogo.jpgThere’s probably no better state in the nation to gauge the current barometer of social conservativism in a large populace than Texas. The state which brought us the worst president in the history of the United States is staunchly Republican and highly conservative in their political ideology and voting behaviors. This is exactly why recent polls, indicating an increasing acceptance towards equality for gays and lesbians is so important in a more national context. In 1985, Houston’s business establishment and some of its leading politicians led a successful campaign to overturn its city ordinance that would have protected gay city employees from job discrimination. But now, 24 years later, according to the latest Houston Area Survey, fewer than half of Harris County residents believe homosexuality is morally wrong, 61% believe it’s an innate characteristic rather than a lifestyle choice, and 43% believe gay marriages should have the same legal status as heterosexual ones — up from 32% just two years ago.

Rice University Sociologist Dr. Stephen Klineberg conducts the annual survey. These data show that beliefs about homosexuality and gay and lesbian civil rights issues are changing, even in areas where social conservativism has long had a stronghold. Social science and even nursing-related research has long indicated gay peoples’ “coming out” and being open and honest with their friends, family, and coworkers as a main reason most are changing their viewpoints. The research in my Doctoral Dissertation showed a strong correlation between heterosexuals’ personal relationships with openly gay or lesbian persons and decreased levels of homophobia.  Perhaps summarized best by Houston gay rights activist Ray Hill, “It’s not about what they think about us, it’s about what we think about us. There is almost no reason in the world for anyone to be closeted any more.” (Source: chron.com)

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