A new study finds that merely talking to someone about LGBT equality makes it more likely that they will change their mind on issues like same-sex marriage. And it’s even more true if the person talking to them is gay themselves, apparently.
Having persuasive face-to-face conversations with someone who supports same-sex marriage can lead opponents to have significant and long-lasting shifts in their views about marriage equality, especially when the person they’re talking to is gay, according to a new study by two political science professors.
Michael J. Lacour of the University of California, Los Angeles, and Donald P. Green of Columbia University surveyed 9,507 Los Angeles County voters who lived in precincts that supported California’s 2008 ban on same-sex marriage five times over the course of two and a half months.
Voters were divided into five randomly assigned groups, with some residents exposed to a gay or straight canvasser advocating for same-sex marriage and others assigned to a gay or straight canvasser discussing the importance of recycling. The fifth group served as a control group to which no canvasser was assigned.The research found that individuals who were confronted with marriage equality conversations from a canvasser who identified himself or herself as gay experienced the most powerful and long-lasting attitude shifts in favor of same-sex marriage.
I had a conversation with one of my older brothers the other day and he told me how he changed his mind about gay rights. He said that he had always been a bit homophobic until he got into a conversation with a gay man that he knew who asked him a simple question: Would you like someone to tell you what to do with another consenting adult in your bedroom, or to discriminate against you based on what you do? That was a big epiphany for him, the moment he realized that what gay people wanted was the privacy and equal rights that he already took for granted.