Examining the Nuance in Public Opinion of Pro-LGB Policies in a “Red State”

Abstract

The red-blue state and urban–rural narratives—which depict that people living in red states and rural areas oppose pro-LGB policies—are popular frames for describing variation in public opinion of LGB policies by geographic region. In a test case of a red state, we examine public opinion of pro-LGB policies to assess the accuracy of the red–blue and urban–rural narratives. Using data from a survey of Nebraskans (n = 1608), we found that public opinion was more nuanced than the red state narrative allows but that urban and rural respondents reported significantly different opinions of pro-LGB policies. Rural people, however, were not unsupportive of all pro-LGB policies. Among all Nebraskans, support was higher for policies to protect LGB people from housing and job discrimination while support was lower for marriage and adoption rights. We discuss what these findings mean for public policy, urban and rural LGB individuals, and future public opinion studies of LGB issues.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Nebraska, however, split its Electoral College votes by congressional district in the 2008 election. President Obama won the vote in Nebraska’s second congressional district and received one electoral vote from Nebraska.

  2. 2.

    The question about support for DOMA had the highest item missing rate. We hypothesize that more respondents skipped this question than normally would have because the US Supreme Court ruled parts of the law unconstitutional in the middle of the NASIS 2013 field period. Comments that some respondents wrote next to unanswered questions about DOMA anecdotally suggest that this may explain the higher item non-response rate.

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Acknowledgment

This paper is based on Mathew Stange’s dissertation research in the Survey Research and Methodology (SRAM) Program at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. The authors thank Dr. Jolene Smyth, Dr. Kristen Olson, and Dr. Christina Falci of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln for the feedback that improved this research and the Bureau of Sociological Research (BOSR) for the data collection.

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Stange, M., Kazyak, E. Examining the Nuance in Public Opinion of Pro-LGB Policies in a “Red State”. Sex Res Soc Policy 13, 142–157 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13178-015-0213-x

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Keywords

  • Lesbian
  • Gay
  • Bisexual
  • Public Opinion
  • Red state
  • Urban
  • Rural
  • Nebraska