Extending marriage to same-sex couples has generated more support for LGBT rights – not backlash

For Immediate Distribution
Jan. 26, 2016

Lauren Jow, jow@law.ucla.edu, 310-206-0314

LOS ANGELES — While public support for marriage for same-sex couples has increased nationwide, states that legalized it from November 2012 through July 2013 saw the most dramatic drop in anti-gay attitudes, according to a new paper co-authored by Andrew Flores, Public Opinion and Policy Analyst at the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, and published in Political Research Quarterly.

“Americans have been changing their mind on marriage equality and at ever-increasing rate,” Flores said. “This study shows how legalizing marriage for same-sex couples also contributes to fuller acceptance of public policies and lesbians and gay men. Our findings also support a number of studies that have not observed backlash when social movements achieve some of their policy goals.”

Key findings from the report include:

• In states that legalized marriage equality from November 2012 through July 2013, 47 percent of residents who initially were opposed changed their minds.

• In states where marriage equality was not legal during that time period, 24 percent of residents who were initially opposed changed their minds.

• The near two-fold difference in changing attitudes is statistically significant.

The study, titled “Backlash, Consensus, Legitimacy, or Polarization: The Effect of Same-Sex Marriage Policy on Mass Attitudes,” examined data from the American National Election Study from 2012 and a re-contact study in 2013. The first ANES study captured attitudes before and after the 2012 presidential election, in which four states faced ballot measures or referenda on same-sex marriage. The 2013 follow-up study captured attitudes after the U.S. Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage rulings.

The paper received the 2015 Best Paper Award in LGBT Politics by the LGBT Caucus of the American Political Science Association.

Click here to read the report.

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