It turns out that making it legal for same-sex couples to get married does a lot to change attitudes in people who were previously against marriage equality.
A study released Tuesday (26 January) by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law shows that US states that legalized same-sex couples from November 2012 through July 2013 experienced the most dramatic drop in anti-gay attitudes.
In those states, 47% of residents who were initially against same-sex couples being allowed marry had changed their minds on the issue.
In contrast, in states where there was not yet marriage equality during that time period, a far lower 24% of people initially opposed changed their minds.
Same-sex marriage became legal in all 50 US states last June after a landmark ruling by the US Supreme Court.
‘Americans have been changing their mind on marriage equality and at ever-increasing rate,’ says Andrew Flores, a public opinion and policy analyst at the Williams Institute who co-authored the study.
‘This study shows how legalizing marriage for same-sex couples also contributes to fuller acceptance of public policies and lesbians and gay men,’ he added. ‘Our findings also support a number of studies that have not observed backlash when social movements achieve some of their policy goals.’
The study, titled Backlash, Consensus, Legitimacy, or Polarization: The Effect of Same-Sex Marriage Policy on Mass Attitudes, examined data from the American National Election Study (ANES) from 2012 and a follow-up in 2013.
The first ANES study captured attitudes before and after the 2012 presidential election, in which four states faced ballot measures or referendums on same-sex marriage. The 2013 follow-up captured attitudes after the U.S. Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage rulings which gutted the Defense of Marriage Act and allowed same-sex marriage to resume in California.