Differential Effects of the US Supreme Court’s Same-Sex Marriage Decision on National Support for Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Civil Rights and Sexual Prejudice
The US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) in Obergefell v. Hodges legalized same-sex marriage throughout all US states and territories. Before that decision, after, and 1 year later, this successive-independent samples study identified clusters of individuals across the US based on worldview ideologies and used those clusters to examine effects of the SCOTUS decision on support for gay rights and sexual prejudice. Participants were 407 adults from 49 US states and territories. A cluster analysis identified three worldview groups: conservatives (23.6%), moderates (30.2%), and progressives (46.2%). Although no overall changes emerged over time in support for gay rights or sexual prejudice, the conservative group showed a marked polarization after the SCOTUS decision, becoming less supportive of gay rights and more prejudiced. Worldviews explained 68.3% of the variance in same-sex marriage support, 67.5% in gay rights support, and 68.8% in sexual prejudice, effects approaching nearly three times a large-sized effect in the social sciences. These findings add nuance to our understanding of the attitudinal impact of court decisions or legislation around progressive issues like same-sex marriage and gay rights, as well as the potential barriers to cultural progress on these issues.
KeywordsHeterosexism Same-sex marriage Prejudice Civil rights
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
- Altemeyer, B. (1981). Right-wing authoritarianism. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press.Google Scholar
- Altemeyer, B. (1996). The authoritarian specter. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Bierly, M. M. (1985). Prejudice toward contemporary outgroups as a generalized attitude. J Appl Soc Psychol, 15(2), 189–199. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1559-1816.1985.tb02344.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Blinder, A. (2015). Alabama judge defies gay marriage law. The New York Times. Retrieved February 8, 2015 from https://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/09/us/gay-marriage-set-to-begin-in-alabama-amid-protest.html
- Blinder, A., Pérez-Peña, R. (2015). Kentucky clerk denies same-sex marriage licenses, defying court. The New York Times. Retrieved September 1, 2015 from https://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/02/us/same-sex-marriage-kentucky-kim-davis.html?smid=pl-share
- Brewer, P. R. (2007). Value war: Public opinion and the politics of gay rights. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.Google Scholar
- Eriksson, K., & Simpson, B. (2010). Emotional reactions to losing explain gender differences in entering a risky lottery. Judgm Decis Mak, 5(3), 159–163.Google Scholar
- Herek, G. M. (1997). The attitudes toward lesbians and gay men (ATLG) scale. In C. M. Davis, W. H. Yarber, R. Bauserman, G. Schreer, & S. L. Davis (Eds.), Sexuality-related measures: A compendium. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
- Hill, R. M., & Pettit, J. W. (2012). Suicidal ideation and sexual orientation in college students: The roles of perceived burdensomeness, thwarted belongingness, and perceived rejection due to sexual orientation. Suicide & Life-Threatening Behavior, 42(5), 567–579. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1943-278X.2012.00113.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Johnson, M. K., Rowatt, W. C., Barnard-Brak, L. M., Patock-Peckham, J. A., LaBouff, J. P., & Carlisle, R. D. (2011). A mediational analysis of the role of right-wing authoritarianism and religious fundamentalism in the religiosity–prejudice link. Personal Individ Differ, 50(6), 851–856. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2011.01.010.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- King, M., Semlyen, J., Tai, S. S., Killaspy, H., Osborn, D., Popelyuk, D., & Nazareth, I. (2008). A systematic review of mental disorder, suicide, and deliberate self harm in lesbian, gay and bisexual people. BMC Psychiatry, 8, 70. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-244X-8-70.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- McHugh, M. C., & Frieze, I. H. (1997). The measurement of gender-role attitudes: A review and commentary. Psychol Women Q, 21(1), 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-6402.1997.tb00097.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Paluck, E. L., & Green, D. P. (2009). Prejudice reduction: What works? A review and assessment of research and practice. Annu Rev Psychol, 60, 339–367. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.psych.60.110707.163607.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Pew. (2010a). Support for same-sex marriage edges upward. Washington DC: Pew Research Center Retrieved from http://www.people-press.org/2010/10/06/support-for-same-sex-marriage-edges-upward/.Google Scholar
- Pew. (2010b). The decline of marriage and rise of new families. Washington DC: Pew Research Center Retrieved from http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2010/11/18/the-decline-of-marriage-and-rise-of-new-families/.Google Scholar
- Wang, W., Parker, K., & Taylor, P. (2013). Breadwinner moms. Washington DC. Retrieved from http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/05/29/breadwinner-moms/
- Whitley, B. E., & Lee, S. E. (2000). The relationship of authoritarianism and related constructs to attitudes toward homosexuality. J Appl Soc Psychol, 30(1), 144–170. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1559-1816.2000.tb02309.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar