Exploring the determinants of gay rights policies at the state level: A mixed methods approach

Daniel Elton Call, University of Texas at El Paso


Much of the literature on gay rights has focused broadly on identifying the causal factors that influence general public perceptions. To date, although scholars have conducted case studies at the state-level or looked at aggregate public opinion trends and their effects at the national level, no work has empirically examined state-level gay rights trends across numerous states. This study fills that gap by assessing the key relationships on the issue of same-sex marriage at the state-level, both systemically with aggregate data and across key states. Using 2007 data from the SurveyUSA polling firm, the American Community Survey (US Census Bureau 2009), and the Pew Forum's (2009) U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, I first employ OLS regression models to conduct systematic state-level analyses. Next, I qualitatively assess the impact of the major variables at the state level using Alabama, Minnesota, and Vermont as best-test cases. This type of mixed methods approach is practical because policy disputes over gay rights are often decided at the state level. For my theoretical framework, I proposed that for 2007, southern region, religious adherence, and a higher percentage of Blacks and Latinos would produce more conservative perceptions on same-sex marriage while education, and age (youth), liberal ideology, and Democratic Party identification would produce more liberal views. My findings provides a new contribution to the literature on gay rights concerning state-level insights which are highly applicable for practitioners, particularly for key advocacy groups concerned about how best how to concentrate their limited resources in pushing for reforms across key states where public debates are most intense.

Subject Area

GLBT Studies|Political science|Public policy

Recommended Citation

Call, Daniel Elton, "Exploring the determinants of gay rights policies at the state level: A mixed methods approach" (2013). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1543106.