Gay Rights are Popular in Many Dimensions

Jeff Lax and Justin Phillips posted this summary of attitudes on a bunch of gay rights questions:


They did it all using multilevel regression and poststratification. And a ton of effort.

P.S. My only criticisms of the above graph are:

(a) I’d just put labels at 20%, 30%, 40%, etc. I think the labels at 25, 35, etc., are overkill and make the numbers harder to read. And the tick marks should be smaller.

(b) The use of color and the legend on the upper left are well done. But they should place the items in the legend in the same order as the averages in the graphs. Thus, it should be same-sex marriage, then 2nd parent acdoption, then civil unions, then health benefits, and so forth.

5 thoughts on “Gay Rights are Popular in Many Dimensions

  1. Extremely informative display of this information. Scanning down the list of states, Iowa stands out as a bit of an outlier. It is about 2/3rds down on the "liberal" scale if you may, but has been extremely effective in passing (pro-gay) policy.

    Can anyone comment on what is going on here? Are the politicians in this state more keen on showing their liberal credentials than what the public thinks is necessary? Or am I just reading this graph wrong?

  2. Krish: Thank you for the kind words. We present some explanations for difference across states in the paper itself. But you are right that Iowa does stand out, possibly because conservative religious interest groups are less powerful in Iowa, a below average number of religious conservatives (i.e., Mormons or evangelical Protestants), and other ideological composition.

    Details from our analysis at
    or directly:

  3. Several thoughts.

    1. Regarding Iowa, gay marriage wasn't "passed". It was judicial action. This is unlike New Hampshire, Maine, or Vermont, where the legislature acted.

    2. The interesting question for me is why the legislature hasn't acted in Rhode Island. I don't understand Rhode Island politics particularly. I could imagine a situation like Massachussets and Pennsylvania, where significant numbers of traditionalist Catholic Democrats are able to have a significant impact on things like this. But still.

  4. @Soren RI has a GOvernor opposed to marrige equaltiy, so they are holding off until he is out of office in 2010. He is term limited.

    Missing from the list is D.C. I believe it would be ahead of Massachusetts.

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