The Evolution of Gay Rights Legislation in the States: Does Morality Policy Matter?

Open Access
Foerster, Kimberly Lynne
Area of Honors:
Political Science
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Michael Barth Berkman, Thesis Supervisor
  • Gretchen Casper, Honors Advisor
  • gay rights
  • gay and lesbian rights
  • interest group
  • public opinion
  • issue salience
  • state legislation
In the last twenty years, the issue of gay rights’ has become a prominent political issue in the United States. The federal government has issued some rulings on the issue, but has left significant discretion to the states for determining legislation. This study examines laws that expand gay rights’ between the years 1990-2013 across all 50 states. In particular, it looks at the political factors within each state that impact the likelihood of a policy passing. Additionally, the factors are considered in relationship to the type of law, either a morality policy, or a regulatory policy. The goal of this research is to find trends over time across the states to provide additional insight into the complex area of gay rights’ policy within the United States.