With more than 20 anti-LGBT bills pending in the Texas Legislature, a new poll confirms that Republican state lawmakers' views on gay rights are way out of step with the voting public in the Lone Star State.
The poll found that 63 percent of Texas voters — including 52 percent of Republicans — support statewide LGBT protections. Meanwhile, 52 percent oppose anti-LGBT religious exemption laws.
From Texas Wins, which commissioned the poll:
“Texas lawmakers have filed a flurry of bills to enshrine discrimination against gay and transgender people under the guise of religious liberty. But it’s clear that Texans don’t support allowing people to use religion as a weapon to harm others,” said Christina Gorczynski, campaign director for Texas Wins. “No matter what questions we asked, a strong majority of Texans favored equality, regardless of political party." …
“Our poll shows that while Texas voters value religious freedom, a majority oppose ‘religious exemption’ laws,” said Greg Strimple of G Squared Public Strategies, the pollster who conducted the statewide survey on behalf of Texas Wins. “Nearly 80 percent of voters believe that religious freedom does not give individuals license to hurt others.”
The poll's release comes at a critical time, as the Texas legislative session has entered its final 30 days. Only a few of the record number of anti-LGBT bills have cleared committee, and the deadline for them to be heard by the full House is next week.
One of the bills that poses a threat is HB 3864, which would establish a license to discriminate for state-funded adoption and child welfare agencies. On Wednesday, the Human Rights Campaign issued a press release in which several major child advocacy groups slammed HB 3864:
In a letter to Texas lawmakers, the Donaldson Adoption Institute (DAI), Voice for Adoption (VFA), and North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) blasted the legislation that would empower adoption agencies to discriminate against eligible parents and guardians. If passed, the discriminatory bill would deny countless children access to caring homes. It could also prevent eligible interfaith couples, same-sex couples, and couples where one individual was previously divorced, the opportunity to care for a child in need.
“We urge you to examine the research that demonstrates if we truly wish to act in good conscience towards children waiting for permanent families, we must not exclude qualified and eager prospective foster and adoptive parents,” the letter states. “Foster and adoptive parent applicants should be judged based on their qualifications, not their sexual orientation or gender identity. Enshrining discrimination into law, on the other hand, will undermine the safety and well-being of Texas’ children.”
“This is tantamount to taxpayer-funded discrimination, as many of the state’s private adoption agencies have large public contracts,” said Ellen Kahn, director of HRC’s Children, Youth and Families Program. “We call on Texas legislators to choose the best interests of the child over discrimination, and abandon this bill aimed at hurting Texans who wish to provide caring homes for children.”
On the bright side, a bill that would allow same-sex parents to have both names on the birth certificates of adopted children cleared committee Monday, thanks to support from two GOP lawmakers.
View the full results of the Texas Wins poll, AFTER THE JUMP …