How LGBT Legislators Enhance Gay Rights

Given the SCOTUS decisions yesterday on same-sex marriage, the arena shifts even more to the individual states.  In light of that, I thought this article was worth highlighting:

This article focuses on the link between the representation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in national legislatures and the existence of equality laws focused on sexual orientation…It finds that the presence of even a small number of openly gay legislators is associated significantly with the future passage of enhanced gay rights, even after including controls for social values, democracy, government ideology, and electoral system design. Once openly gay legislators are in office they have a transformative effect on the views and voting behavior of their straight colleagues. This “familiarity through presence” effect is echoed in studies of U.S. state legislatures and levels of social tolerance of homosexuality in the population at large.

Here is an ungated copy of the article, by political scientist Andrew Reynolds of UNC-Chapel Hill.  Here is an earlier press release.

[Cross-posted at The Monkey Cage]

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John Sides

John Sides is an associate professor of political science at George Washington University.