New research has found US states that introduced same-sex marriage laws prior to the 2015 Supreme Court ruling are more accepting of LTBTIQ people.
The study led by psychologist Eugene Ofosu at McGill University found anti-gay bias was decreasing or staying constant over time. Ofosu said it did so “at roughly double” the speed after states introduced equal marriage.
Eugene Ofosu said “government legislation can inform attitudes, even on religiously and politically entrenched positions,” when explaining the speed of the change.
The research team measured popular attitudes toward same-sex relationships by analysing large data sets. In one about one million people who logged onto the Project Implicit website between 2006 and 2016. The site allows visitors to state their conscious feelings on hot-topic issues, and measures their unconscious feelings toward the same subjects using specially designed tests.
They found that, consistently, the passage of such laws significantly influenced attitudes in favour of acceptance.
“We find both implicit and explicit anti-gay bias was decreasing or stable over time before same-sex marriage legislation,” Eugene Ofosu said.
“However, following the passing of legislation perceived as supportive of this marginalised population, on average, anti-gay bias declined at a steeper rate.”
Researchers point to one exception to this trend: States that had not legalised gay marriage, but were forced to do so after the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, experienced “increased anti-gay bias over time.”