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Gay Marriage and Civil Unions: The Impact of Network Diversity on Opinion
Unformatted Document Text:  8 through the courts, as some say happened in Massachusetts. If so, they may prefer civil unions to no legal recognition and no legal recognition to full marriage. Because of this complexity, it would be a mistake to treat these three options as ordered alternatives and, in fact, the evidence I will present reveals that the factors that predict support for full marriage are not just more of the same factors that predict support for civil unions. Given the categorical, non-ordered nature of the dependent variable, I employed a multinomial logit model for the regression analysis (see Liao, 1994). The multinomial logit model essentially examines a series of binary logit regressions, comparing correlates for different paired combinations of the dependent variable’s categories. That is, the model compares the support for civil unions versus no legal recognition of same-sex couples, support for full marriage rights versus no legal recognition, and support for marriage versus civil unions. Independent Variables Network Diversity. The authors of the CID survey asked respondents to think about the friends that they were close with and “had contact with in the past month, whether the contact was in person, by telephone, or by e-mail” (Howard et al., 2005) They were then asked how many of their friends were different from themselves, in terms of race, religious views, political views and level of education. Responses were coded on a scale from 1 (no friends were different) to 9 (all friends were different) 4 . In addition, the survey authors constructed a summated index of network diversity from the responses for race, religious views and political views, scaled from 1 (least diverse network) to 9 (most diverse network). <INSERT TABLE 2 ABOUT HERE> <INSERT TABLE 3 ABOUT HERE> Simple cross-tabulation of the position on gay marriage against these network diversity measures, shown in Table 2, is somewhat suggestive. Supporters of civil unions tended to have networks of close friends that are more diverse in terms of race and religious views (as well as the highly-correlated diversity index) than did those opposed to any recognition, while supporters of full marriage tended to have the most diverse networks in those terms. As shown in Table 3, the differences in means on the diversity measures for race and religious views are statistically significant when comparing marriage supporters to those who oppose any recognition as well as when comparing civil union supporters to those opposed. However, the difference in means are 4 The full scale presented to respondents for race, religious views and political views was as follows: 1 – None (0%), 2 – Almost none (5%), 3 – A few (10%), 4 – Some (25%), 5 – About half (50%), 6 – Many (75%), 7 – Most (90%), 8 – Almost all (95%), 9 – All (100%). On the question of education level, respondents were presented with the same scale but were instead asked how many of their close friends had the same level of education instead of a different level. For this paper, I have recoded the education level responses inversely, so that the top of the scale is 100% diversity. Though this adjustment should be acceptable for the present analysis, the network diversity values for education level should not be compared to the values for race, religious views or political views, since any response bias resulting from the different question formats would probably not be randomly distributed across the items.

Authors: Jensen, Micah.
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8
through the courts, as some say happened in Massachusetts. If so, they may prefer civil unions to
no legal recognition and no legal recognition to full marriage. Because of this complexity, it would
be a mistake to treat these three options as ordered alternatives and, in fact, the evidence I will
present reveals that the factors that predict support for full marriage are not just more of the same
factors that predict support for civil unions.
Given the categorical, non-ordered nature of the dependent variable, I employed a multinomial
logit model for the regression analysis (see Liao, 1994). The multinomial logit model essentially
examines a series of binary logit regressions, comparing correlates for different paired
combinations of the dependent variable’s categories. That is, the model compares the support for
civil unions versus no legal recognition of same-sex couples, support for full marriage rights versus
no legal recognition, and support for marriage versus civil unions.
Independent Variables
Network Diversity. The authors of the CID survey asked respondents to think about the friends that
they were close with and “had contact with in the past month, whether the contact was in person,
by telephone, or by e-mail” (Howard et al., 2005) They were then asked how many of their friends
were different from themselves, in terms of race, religious views, political views and level of
education. Responses were coded on a scale from 1 (no friends were different) to 9 (all friends
were different)
4
. In addition, the survey authors constructed a summated index of network
diversity from the responses for race, religious views and political views, scaled from 1 (least diverse
network) to 9 (most diverse network).
<INSERT TABLE 2 ABOUT HERE>
<INSERT TABLE 3 ABOUT HERE>
Simple cross-tabulation of the position on gay marriage against these network diversity measures,
shown in Table 2, is somewhat suggestive. Supporters of civil unions tended to have networks of
close friends that are more diverse in terms of race and religious views (as well as the highly-
correlated diversity index) than did those opposed to any recognition, while supporters of full
marriage tended to have the most diverse networks in those terms. As shown in Table 3, the
differences in means on the diversity measures for race and religious views are statistically
significant when comparing marriage supporters to those who oppose any recognition as well as
when comparing civil union supporters to those opposed. However, the difference in means are
4
The full scale presented to respondents for race, religious views and political views was as follows: 1 – None (0%), 2 –
Almost none (5%), 3 – A few (10%), 4 – Some (25%), 5 – About half (50%), 6 – Many (75%), 7 – Most (90%), 8 –
Almost all (95%), 9 – All (100%). On the question of education level, respondents were presented with the same scale
but were instead asked how many of their close friends had the same level of education instead of a different level. For
this paper, I have recoded the education level responses inversely, so that the top of the scale is 100% diversity.
Though this adjustment should be acceptable for the present analysis, the network diversity values for education level
should not be compared to the values for race, religious views or political views, since any response bias resulting from
the different question formats would probably not be randomly distributed across the items.


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