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Egan on what is distinctive about lesbians, gays and bisexuals in American politics

Abstract: Lesbians, gays and bisexuals (LGBs) tend to affiliate with the Democratic Party and hold distinctively liberal views on a wide range of issues - including issues that have nothing to do with gay rights. But little is known about how LGBs acquire partisanship and form political attitudes, and theories of group political distinctiveness apply poorly to this case. Using pooled survey data that permits statistically powerful analysis of nationally representative samples of LGBs, this article documents two mechanisms that make LGBs politically distinctive: selection (LGBs are more likely to be brought up in environments associated with liberal views later in life) and conversion (the life event of adopting a gay identity is accompanied by the acquisition of a cohesive set of liberal beliefs). Less evidence is found for the explanation typically offered for LGB political distinctiveness: that gay people acquire distinctive political views through intra-group contact and acculturation.

Patrick J. Egan (2007), “Explaining the Distinctiveness of Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals in American Politics,” unpublished paper. Available here.

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