cross posted at Burnt Orange Report.
For the past twenty-six years, Rice University sociology professor Stephen Klineberg has been recording the opinions of Houstonians on a wide variety fascinating socio-economic issues in his report, The Houston Area Survey. Some new numbers from the most recent report are coming out, and it's amazing how dynamic and diverse our city is. Since the survey was founded, the views of our city population have changed in dramatic ways. Most significantly for our community, support for gay adoption is surging. In the last decade, public opinion has shifted in a positive direction by over ten percent. Even as views on other issues, such as the death penalty and immigration, fluctuate up and down from year to year, the trend towards majority support of gay families seems amazingly consistent.
Unfortunately, supporters are still in the minority, but these statistical movements are extremely consequential. At this moment in Texas, adoption is one of our most tenuous rights. Each new session of the state legislature brings renewed fear that adoption and foster parenting will be limited to heterosexual couples. Even today, as the 80th legislature holds it hearings and floor debates, it's a very scary possibility, but as public opinion shifts in our favor, close-minded, right-wing legislators have less leverage on these controversial issues. Of course, for GLBT foster parents and hopeful adopters, tolerance couldn't come too soon.
How can we cultivate greater public acceptance? We must be more outspoken in our activism. We must make ourselves increasingly relevant in the political world.
We're already making a significant impact, both locally and nationally. Just last week, presidential candidate John Edwards announced, with a great deal of fanfare on his website, a long list of significant LGBT endorsers. Admittedly, Edwards' announcement received little press coverage, but it's clear that Edwards is actively seeking LGBT support, because he knows it can make huge difference on election day. Similarly, just yesterday in the U.S. Senate, Senator Kennedy (D-MA) and Senator Smith (R-OR) introduced the "Matthew Shepherd Act." (This is the federal hate crimes legislation I detailed in a previous post). When leaders, like Kennedy, Smith and Edwards, work on our behalf, knowing that it will benefit their reelection efforts, we receive invaluable public exposure. When we have the opportunity to share our issues, present our families, and highlight our common humanity, public opinion shifts in exponential measure.
It seems to me that we're right at the tipping point, and the Caucus has an incredible opportunity to accelerate progress. We are the political voice for our community, and leaders are starting to listen, because they know how consequential our support can be on election day. Join the caucus, and speak OUT.