In poll data released last week, the Pew Research Center reported 61 percent of Republicans and those who lean toward the Republican Party aged 18 to 29 favor the legal marriage of same-sex couples, as opposed to the 27 percent aged 50 and older.
College Republicans, a conservative student group on campus, adheres to the official ideology of the GOP, according to Zach Berberich, accounting junior and communications director for the organization. Berberich said students coming into UT tend to have a high respect for individual liberty.
“College students tend to come in with really libertarian viewpoints,” Berberich said. “A lot of students think it’s not the government’s job to intervene at all in marriage. A lot of us tend to say ‘it’s not our business. As long as it’s not hurting us, then let it be.’”
Steph Salazar, social work sophomore and co-community relations chair of Queer People of Color and Allies, said she hasn’t seen a major shift in conservative opinion.
“I’ve noticed a change in my lifetime, but I don’t see the conservative community as a total ally to the LGBTQ community,” Salazar said. “While certain conservative folks are doing a great job as queer advocates individually, overarching legislation about the well-being of queer bodies in this country says otherwise.”
Cody Jo Bankhead, broadcast journalism senior and communications director for the UT chapter of Young Conservatives of Texas, said the organization doesn’t have an official stance on the issue of same-sex marriage.
The increase in social liberalism within young Republican groups also extends to same-sex adoption. The poll reports that 18 percent of conservatives under 30 and 59 percent for conservatives aged 50 and up consider same-sex couples raising children as “bad for society.”
Michelle Willoughby, government junior and communications director for University Democrats, said she can see the legalization of same-sex marriage nationwide from her interactions with political groups at UT.
“In past debates with College Republicans, we’ve definitely seen them take a more favorable stance towards the LGBT community than their party does as a whole,” Willoughby said. “I think that the fact that young people on both sides of the aisle are finding some common ground of this issue shows that legalizing gay marriage is going to happen sooner or later.”