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Gay Marriage and Civil Unions: The Impact of Network Diversity on Opinion
Unformatted Document Text:  7 events are centered around or organized by the church, as in many small communities, or if the church doctrine is very conservative. Indeed, Ammerman (1987) found that social interactions in fundamentalist churches were often focused on contact with other church members. I suggest two possibilities that might support this theory. First, it may be that closeted gay men and lesbians in churches that oppose gay rights will be unwilling to come out for fear of hostility, retribution, or expulsion, or because they believe that their sexuality is sinful and they hope to change. Consequently, heterosexual members of these churches may be less likely to have personal contact with “out” gays and lesbians, and so the contact theory’s improvements to affect are correspondingly less likely to occur. Second, conservative religions with particularistic doctrines, those that claim that all other religions are false, may actively or passively discourage members from interacting with members of other faiths, while non-particularistic doctrines may encourage such interaction. Religious doctrine, then, may influence network diversity with corresponding impact to political tolerance. Data and Methods Data for this study was taken from the 2005 U.S. Citizenship, Involvement and Democracy (CID) survey (Howard et al., 2005) of 1,001 adults weighted to represent the U.S. population. In this section, some description of the data is presented before turning to regression analysis. Dependent Variable Respondents were asked the following question: “There has been much talk recently about whether gays and lesbians should have the legal right to marry someone of the same sex. Which of the following comes closest to your position on this issue? Do you support full marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples; do you support gay civil unions or partnerships, but not gay marriage; or, do you oppose any legal recognition for gay and lesbian couples?” The results appear in Table 1. <INSERT TABLE 1 ABOUT HERE> Though many respondents said that they thought there should be no legal recognition of same sex relationships, it’s significant that a majority, 54%, supported some form of relationship recognition for same-sex couples, either in the form of marriage or civil unions. Since respondents were not allowed to select more than one choice, one might be tempted to assume that people who supported full marriage would also support civil unions, given the option, and so conclude that civil unions by themselves would have majority support. This conclusion would, however, be unfounded. The reason is that these policies are not ordered alternatives. For example, it’s likely that some people who support full marriage might view civil unions as a step in the right direction and preferable to no legal recognition at all. Other marriage supporters, however, might view civil unions as a flawed solution in the “separate but equal” vein or as a form of appeasement that, if accepted, would delay or prevent the enactment of full marriage; for them, no legal recognition is preferable to civil unions. Finally, some opponents of full marriage for gays and lesbians might believe that some form of recognition is appropriate or even inevitable, and feel that it is better to support civil unions through legislative action than to have full marriage forced upon them

Authors: Jensen, Micah.
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7
events are centered around or organized by the church, as in many small communities, or if the
church doctrine is very conservative. Indeed, Ammerman (1987) found that social interactions in
fundamentalist churches were often focused on contact with other church members. I suggest two
possibilities that might support this theory. First, it may be that closeted gay men and lesbians in
churches that oppose gay rights will be unwilling to come out for fear of hostility, retribution, or
expulsion, or because they believe that their sexuality is sinful and they hope to change.
Consequently, heterosexual members of these churches may be less likely to have personal contact
with “out” gays and lesbians, and so the contact theory’s improvements to affect are
correspondingly less likely to occur. Second, conservative religions with particularistic doctrines,
those that claim that all other religions are false, may actively or passively discourage members
from interacting with members of other faiths, while non-particularistic doctrines may encourage
such interaction. Religious doctrine, then, may influence network diversity with corresponding
impact to political tolerance.
Data and Methods
Data for this study was taken from the 2005 U.S. Citizenship, Involvement and Democracy (CID)
survey (Howard et al., 2005) of 1,001 adults weighted to represent the U.S. population. In this
section, some description of the data is presented before turning to regression analysis.
Dependent Variable
Respondents were asked the following question: “There has been much talk recently about
whether gays and lesbians should have the legal right to marry someone of the same sex. Which of
the following comes closest to your position on this issue? Do you support full marriage rights for
gay and lesbian couples; do you support gay civil unions or partnerships, but not gay marriage; or,
do you oppose any legal recognition for gay and lesbian couples?” The results appear in Table 1.
<INSERT TABLE 1 ABOUT HERE>
Though many respondents said that they thought there should be no legal recognition of same sex
relationships, it’s significant that a majority, 54%, supported some form of relationship
recognition for same-sex couples, either in the form of marriage or civil unions. Since respondents
were not allowed to select more than one choice, one might be tempted to assume that people who
supported full marriage would also support civil unions, given the option, and so conclude that
civil unions by themselves would have majority support. This conclusion would, however, be
unfounded.
The reason is that these policies are not ordered alternatives. For example, it’s likely that some
people who support full marriage might view civil unions as a step in the right direction and
preferable to no legal recognition at all. Other marriage supporters, however, might view civil
unions as a flawed solution in the “separate but equal” vein or as a form of appeasement that, if
accepted, would delay or prevent the enactment of full marriage; for them, no legal recognition is
preferable to civil unions. Finally, some opponents of full marriage for gays and lesbians might
believe that some form of recognition is appropriate or even inevitable, and feel that it is better to
support civil unions through legislative action than to have full marriage forced upon them


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