Tolerance of Same-Sex Marriage and Policy Change
Mentor:Pamela Fiber-Ostrow, Ph. D., Assistant Professor of Political Science, California State University Fullerton
Same-sex marriage has become the contemporary civil rights battle in the United States. Many researchers have shown a close nexus between tolerance as measured through public opinion towards same-sex marriage, and public policy governing marriage. Across the country, states maintain widely differing laws regarding marriage rights. Each jurisdiction is influence by a unique population and political climate, factors that produce distinct histories regarding marriage rights for homosexuals. Marriage has traditionally been the prerogative of states under their police powers. However, enforcement of the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution weakens this autonomy. When do states adopt more expansive rights for homosexuals, and when do they contract them? This study is an attempt to explain various state responses towards same sex marriage. Using demographic data including partisanship, education and religiosity, this paper explores how policy change occurs within each state including legislative, initiative and judicial responses protecting rights for homosexuals.