Transgender and gay people face more discrimination than other minority groups, according to a new poll of Texas voters, yet lawmakers continue to target them with anti-gay bills.
The results from the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll show that voters in the state agree that LGBT people face among the greatest amount of discrimination – transgender (40%), Muslims (39%), gays and lesbians (36%) – though the numbers vary depending on who you ask.
Transgender people, Muslims, gays and lesbians, and African-Americans — in that order — face the most discrimination, Texas voters say. They’re followed, in order, by Hispanics, women, Christians, Asians, whites and men.
But the differences from one group of respondents to another were very different.
“There is an enormous divide here,” said Daron Shaw, co-director of the poll and a government professor at the University of Texas at Austin.
In other words, Tea Party Republicans tend to agree in smaller numbers that LGBT people face discrimination. But they agree in larger numbers than Democrats that Christians face discrimination, according to the poll.
While 72 percent of all respondents said there is either “a lot” or “some” discrimination against Muslims in the U.S., only 49 percent of voters who identified themselves as Tea Party Republicans thought so. And 70 percent of all respondents said gays and lesbians face discrimination, but only 45 percent of Tea Party Republicans and 45 percent of Hispanics thought so.
“These results confirm what we see in the headlines around race and policing, affirmative action, around gay marriage — that there is a real difference in perception about discrimination,” said Jim Henson, co-director of the poll and head of the Texas Politics Project at UT-Austin. “It’s related to political ideology and political partisanship.”
More than half of respondents — 52 percent — said Christians face discrimination, a view shared by 68 percent of Republicans and only 30 percent of Democrats, by 60 percent of registered voters over 65 years of age and only 39 percent of voters under 30.
Despite Texas voters saying that LGBT people face the most discrimination, lawmakers in the state continue to target them. Nearly two-dozen anti-gay bills were filed in the recent legislative session – including one to undo LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination measures in Houston and other cities – though none became law. That didn't stop lawmakers in the House and Senate from taking a cheap shot against gay marriage.
Maybe that's a reason why only 42% of voters say they approve of the job the Texas Legislature is doing, according to the poll. And 32% of voters agree that the Tea Party, which drives much of the anti-gay animus seen in lawmakers, has too much influence.
Last year, the UT/Texas Tribune poll showed that 42% of voters approved of gay marriage.