Journal Article

Gay Rights in Congress

Katherine Krimmel, Jeffrey R. Lax and Justin H. Phillips

in Public Opinion Quarterly

Volume 80, issue 4, pages 888-913
Published in print January 2016 | ISSN: 0033-362X
Published online June 2016 | e-ISSN: 1537-5331 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/poq/nfw026
Gay Rights in Congress

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Public majorities have supported several gay rights policies for some time, yet Congress’s response has been limited. We document and analyze this tension through dyadic analysis of the opinion–vote relationship on 23 roll calls between 1993 and 2010, revealing a nuanced picture of responsiveness and incongruence. While constituent preferences influence white male Democrats, black lawmakers and white female Democratic lawmakers generally support gay rights and Republicans consistently oppose them, regardless of constituent preferences. Moreover, changes in constituent opinion typically fail to engender vote changes. In sum, despite a degree of responsiveness to opinion, we find there is a persistent bias against constituent will on LGB rights.

Journal Article.  8872 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Sciences

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