Chapter

Defining the Threats from Gay Rights

in Same Sex, Different Politics

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780226544083
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226544106 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226544106.003.0002
Defining the Threats from Gay Rights

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This chapter examines how opponents and proponents define gay rights issues. How opponents define the issues reveals what they find most threatening about gay rights and what they believe the public will find most threatening. In deciding how to frame issues in their effort to arouse perceptions of threat, gay rights opponents can argue that homosexuality violates moral and religious principles, that gay rights will produce undesirable consequences for society, or that the adoption of such measures violates important procedural norms and harms institutions. The chapter is organized as follows. The first part discusses the advantages and disadvantages of defining issues in moral terms versus consequences or procedures. The next section presents data about how opponents define the issues and looks for patterns across issues. Opponents define issues in ways that are consistent with changes in public opinion and the constraints they face in building coalitions. Contrary to theories of “morality politics,” opponents usually do not place primary emphasis on moral and religious arguments in debate but emphasize consequences and the procedural aspects of issues. The conclusion addresses the implications of these findings.

Keywords: gay rights issues; opponents; proponents; homosexuality; public opinion; morality politics; consequences

Chapter.  14079 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: US Politics

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