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UTSA survey finds opposition to same-sex marriage

By Alison Beshur
Public Affairs Specialist

(Nov. 3, 2005)--Most area residents oppose same-sex marriage, a recent University of Texas at San Antonio survey finds.

When asked, "How strongly do you agree or disagree that homosexual couples should have the right to marry one another?," 57 percent of Bexar County residents surveyed last month said they "strongly disagreed" (33.8 percent) or "disagreed" (22.8 percent) with the idea. Three faculty research associates at the UTSA Culture and Policy Institute conducted the survey of nearly 600 respondents.

One-third of respondents supported the proposition (12 percent "strongly agreed" and 21.9 percent "agreed") and 9 percent gave a "don't know" or "no answer" response.

"While tolerant attitudes toward extending some civil liberties to this minority group are increasing, residents maintain traditional views toward marriage," said Juanita Firestone, professor of sociology and one of three faculty members supervising the UTSA survey. "When we look at these results by characteristics of consistent voters, they do not bode well for county residents who oppose the statewide constitutional amendment defining marriage."

Support or lack of support for marriage between homosexuals varied on the basis of demographic characteristics. Respondents' political views and party affiliation affected how strongly respondents perceived the idea of same-sex marriage. Among those who defined themselves as conservative, 75 percent "strongly disagreed" or "disagreed" and only 19 percent "agreed" or "strongly agreed."

In contrast, nearly one in two, or 42 percent of respondents who identified themselves as liberals, "disagreed" or "strongly disagreed" with the idea, while 50 percent "agreed" or "strongly agreed" and 8 percent expressed uncertainty.

Moderate respondents also were split with 47 percent disagreeing with the idea, 40 percent agreeing and 13 percent expressing uncertainty. Similarly, nearly eight in 10 (76 percent) of Republican respondents "disagreed" or "strongly disagreed" with same-sex marriages, while self-identified Democrats and Independents were more evenly split on the proposal (Democrats: 49.8 percent disagreeing, 41 percent agreeing and 9.6 percent expressing uncertainty; and Independents: 50 percent disagreeing, 38 percent agreed and 12 percent answered "don't know" or "no answer").

The age of respondents also seemed to affect opinion on same-sex marriage. Younger respondents (from ages 18 to 35), for example, were split somewhat evenly on the idea (51 percent agreeing, 45 percent disagreeing and 4 percent uncertain).

Disagreement increased as the age of the respondents increased. Respondents from ages 36 to 49 were similar in their perspective to those from ages 18 to 35, but of respondents in the 50-to-64 age category, 61 percent disagreed with same-sex marriage and 67 percent of respondents ages 65 or older disagreed with the proposition.

A moderate association and significant differences emerged among respondents who differed in their views about whether homosexuality is something people "choose to be" or something they "could not change." Nearly 8 in 10 or 77 percent of respondents who view homosexuality as something people choose, "disagreed: or "strongly disagreed" with same-sex marriage, while a majority or 54 percent of respondents who view homosexuality as something that someone could not change, "agreed" or "strongly agreed" with the idea of same-sex marriage.

A weak association was found among respondents from middle-income families who more strongly opposed the idea than those from lower- or higher-income families. No significant differences in opinion were found by respondents of different race, ethnicity or sex or by educational attainment.

The San Antonio Survey 2005 (SAS 2005) is an annual survey conducted by UTSA students in the combined research methods courses of sociology, public administration and criminal justice. It is conducted through the university's Culture and Policy Institute. This year's telephone interviews were conducted Oct. 7-23.

The SAS 2005 data are based on a random probability sample of individuals with telephones and consist of 592 responses from the Bexar County metropolitan area. The standard error of the entire sample is +/- 4.2 percent with a 95 percent confidence level.

For more information, contact Juanita Firestone, UTSA professor of sociology, at (210) 458-5601 or Richard Harris, UTSA professor of sociology, at (210) 458-5609.

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