Familiarity, religiosity, and authoritarianism: the acceptability of gay rights and same-sex marriage

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Sullivan, Kirstin Eddings
Iowa State University
Political Science; acceptability; familiarity; gay marriage; same-sex marriage
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thesis / dissertation description
The acceptability of gay rights (specifically same-sex marriage) at the individual level is constantly changing and this is revealed in the changing attitudes among states that have legalized same-sex marriage (37 states and the District of Columbia as of February14, 2015). Current research shows that familiarity plays a part in increased acceptability of gay rights and same-sex marriage and also shows evangelical religiosity and authoritarianism as deterrents to acceptance. This thesis shows that familiarity is the strongest of the three variables and that religiosity and authoritarianism do affect acceptability, but only when familiarity is low. Using questions from the 2012 National Election Study that address familiarity, acceptability of various areas gay rights, authoritarianism and religiosity, I analyzed and tested the variables to determine if these variables correlate in rising together or falling together. I found that increased familiarity does increase acceptability of same-sex marriage. I also found that evangelical religiosity and/or authoritarianism do lead to lower levels of acceptance. However, when a respondent knew someone who is gay, a higher level of religiosity or authoritarianism didn't appear to affect acceptability. Therefore, familiarity appears to be the stronger variable even when religiosity and authoritarianism are considered.