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The South provides far fewer legal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans than does the rest of the country. Because state gay rights policies strongly reflect public opinion, trends in and the causes of Southerners’ stronger opposition to homosexuality and gay rights are key to the future of lesbian and gay rights in the region. Using data for over 200,000 respondents to over 150 surveys, we assess the width, stability, and roots of Southern differences in beliefs about whether homosexual sex should be legal, schools should employ lesbian and gay teachers, same-sex marriage should be legal, and homosexual relations are “not wrong at all.” We find strong and stable regional divergences that owe much to Southerners’ greater religiosity, conservatism, and Republican party identification and their higher probabilities of being evangelical Protestants and African Americans. Migration patterns seem to maintain rather than to narrow or widen regional differences on gay rights.


Author manuscript of article published in:

Lewis, Gregory B. and Reynold S. Galope. Support for Gay and Lesbian Rights: How and Why the South Differs from the Rest of the Country. American Review of Politics Vol. 34 (2013-2014): 271-297.

Posted with the permission of the publisher.