Monday, June 22, 2009

Opinion and Policy on Gay Rights

There's a great chart displayed over at with public opinion on various gay rights questions by state, including whether those policies are actually adopted as law in those states. The original PDF is available here.

I'm struck by how consistent the popularity ranking of the issues is across states. With a few quibbly exceptions, from most popular support to least the issues are:

  1. housing antidiscrimination

  2. hate crimes protection

  3. job antidiscrimination

  4. health benefits for same-sex partners

  5. civil unions

  6. 2nd parent adoption for same-sex couples

  7. same-sex marriage

It's also interesting, but not surprising, to see that adoption of these policies is not nearly as widespread as their popularity. The most widespread policy by far is hate crimes protection, which is the unsurprising one. But there is no state that offers housing antidiscrimination (super-popular) that does not also offer jobs antidiscrimination (third most popular) AND the far less popular 2nd parent adoption -- 20 states have all three of those. Seven of those 20 states that provide those three do NOT provide health benefits for same-sex partners, even though it's much more popular than 2nd parent adoption.

I wonder if adoption policy has sort of gone "under the radar" and the decisions have been made based on what's best for adopted children, rather than traditional family stereotypes. I also wonder if partner health benefits might have a lot of "bang for the buck" in the sense of being politically achievable in the short term, and really improving the lives of many couples.

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