Poll: half of Texans support gay marriage, legalization of marijuana

Nearly half of Texans support gay marriage — up from 29 percent in 2009 — according to a Texas Lyceum poll released Wednesday.

Also, more Texans support legalization of marijuana — 46 percent, up 13 percent since 2011 — and of those who oppose legalization, more than half say marijuana should be decriminalized, according to the survey, conducted Sept. 8-21. The shrinking opposition to marijuana legalization might reflect the beginning of an attitude change in the Legislature, which this year approved a cannabis-derived treatment for some forms of epilepsy.

The recent Texas Lyceum Poll, the group’s ninth measure of Texans’ views, surveyed adult Texans’ attitudes on issues including the Affordable Care Act, climate change and youth football. The group also asked respondents about the presidential race. That data will be released Thursday.

The poll is unique because it did not survey registered voters or likely voters, like most political polls; rather it looked at the state’s entire adult population, said Joshua Blank, the poll’s research director. The poll surveyed a younger and more diverse cross-section of society, notably young Hispanics. That revealed a more nuanced view of immigration, among other issues, he said.

Nearly two-thirds of respondents said they supported the state Legislature approving $800 million for border security, including hundreds more state troopers stationed at the border. At the same time, 65 percent said they supported the federal action to stop the deportation of immigrants in the country illegally who are attending college or serving in the military. Only 28 percent oppose the policy that also provides those students with legal and renewable work permits.

Blank said the poll also found some interesting data from questions on race-based discrimination.

Overall, 17 percent of Texans have said they had been discriminated against by police. The poll indicated that one in 20 whites claimed to have experienced discrimination from law enforcement, compared with one in four Hispanics. But 45 percent of African-Americans said they had experienced discrimination by police, according to the poll.

“People’s experience with police is heavily conditioned by their racial or ethnic background,” Blank said.

The race-based discrimination questions were important to consider in light of the death of Sandra Bland while in custody in Waller County this year and the national conversation about police and how they interact with African-Americans, Blank said.

Texas Lyceum, a nonprofit, was set up to identify and develop leaders and help to bring understanding of issues to decision-makers.

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