Rice professor talks gay marriage, other hot topics

HOUSTON - Crowds gathered at Rice University on Tuesday to hear what Houstonians think about gay marriage, diversity and immigration.

Dr. Steven Klineberg, a sociologist at Rice University, talked about key points from a recent Kinder Institute Houston Area survey.

Klineberg said according to the study, 89 percent of Houstonians support universal criminal background checks for all gun sales. He said nearly half of all Houstonians are in favor of a federal law banning assault weapons.

Support for gay rights has grown consistently in recent years, said Klineberg, especially for younger people.

On immigration, Klineberg said attitudes have also changed significantly. Houstonians are in favor of granting immigrants a U.S. citizenship if they speak English and no no criminal record. That went from 64 percent to 83 percent, Klineberg said.

This is the 32nd Kinder Institute Houston Area survey. Klineberg said he's surprised every year at some of the results. Houston is in line with the rest of the nation, but very open minded with regard to immigration and gay rights, Klineberg said.

In the next 20 years, our area will add another 1 million residents. In surrounding counties, another 3.5 million people will live in the area. Klineberg said the challenge is to accommodate all of those people and to make sure education is a top priority.

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