The Correlates of Tolerance: Analyzing the Statewide Votes on Anti-Gay Initiatives

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Voters in four states-- Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, and Maine--have voted on statewide anti-gay initiatives in recent years. Oregon voters have considered two different measures, one in 1992 (Measure 13) and one in 1994 (Measure 9). With the exception of Colorado's 1992 vote on Amendment Two, all of the statewide anti-gay initiatives have failed at the ballot box. Colorado's Amendment Two was later struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court (see Chapter 11). Table A. 11 displays the election results for the four statewide votes considered in this chapter. This analysis uses county-level data to evaluate the votes on four of these anti-gay initiatives (the 1992 Oregon initiative is not used).

The literature on public opinion and attitudes towards gays suggests that certain voter characteristics correlate with tolerance toward gays. An important empirical question is whether or not voters take those predispositions with them into the voting booth when considering anti-gay initiatives. By comparing socioeconomic, political, and religious characteristics of county populations with the county's vote on the anti-gay measure, we can begin to assess the relationship between tolerance and this divisive social issue.

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