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New Voters, New Outlook? Predispositions, Social Networks, and the Changing Politics of Gay Civil Rights


  • *Direct correspondence to Dr. Amy B. Becker, Department of Mass Communication & Communication Studies, Towson University, 8000 York Rd., Towson, MD 21252 〈〉. Those interested in replicating the study should contact Dr. Becker for data and coding information.


Objectives. This study examines the factors that shape public acceptance of homosexuality and support for same-sex marriage across age cohorts.

Methods. We analyzed data from two national surveys. We constructed hierarchical logistic and hierarchical ordinary least squares regressions for relevant age cohorts in order to test our hypotheses and explore our research questions.

Results. Our models suggest that personal contact has a greater impact on the attitudes of younger respondents, positively influencing public acceptance of homosexuality. Alternatively, religious and ideological predispositions have a greater impact on the attitudes of older individuals. When examining public support for gay marriage, we find that younger individuals have higher levels of deliberative engagement with the issue debate, while older individuals rely more heavily on their predispositions when determining issue stance. Interestingly, measures of media exposure are not significantly related to either public acceptance of homosexuality or support for same-sex marriage, suggesting that other factors may have a greater impact on public attitudes at this point in time.

Conclusion. The implications of these findings are discussed in light of the emergence of a new political generation and the continuing struggle for gay civil rights.