John M. Becker

Study: Talking With Gay People Changes Minds on Marriage

Filed By John M. Becker | December 12, 2014 11:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: coming out, gay marriage, marriage equality, personal stories, same-sex marriage, scientific study, survey

bigstock-People-Talking-25125962.jpgA new study confirms what we've long known anecdotally: talking with LGBT people reduces anti-LGBT bias.

The Washington Post reports:

For David Fleischer, it was a gut-punch when Proposition 8, the ballot initiative banning gay marriage, passed in California in 2008. He wondered: What could we do to change people's minds on this subject?

So through his Leadership LAB at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, he launched an experiment. Every other weekend, he sent canvassers to neighborhoods where Prop 8 had passed by a 2-to-1 margin, from the Latino-heavy neighborhoods of East L.A. to black neighborhoods such as Inglewood to the predominantly white Northeast. The goal was to simply talk with the voters at their doorsteps, as they were walking their dogs or sitting in their cars, and engage them on the subject of same-sex marriage.

The experiment appears to have been a success, according to a study being published in the journal Science. Support for same-sex marriage jumped eight percentage points among those voters who had a single conversation with a gay canvasser, according to the study. And not only did that support persist a year later, it also trickled over to other members of the household, the study's authors found.

According to the report, prior to the experiment, the 132 voters involved in the study resembled Nebraska in terms of their level of support for marriage equality. After a single, approximately 20-minute conversation with a gay canvasser, though, they looked more like Massachusetts.

Click here for the Post's full report on this fascinating new study.

For me, this brings to mind Harvey Milk's famous statement that our community "will not win our rights by staying silently in our closets."

Milk was -- and is -- absolutely right, of course: coming out is the single most important thing LGBT people can do in the struggle for our civil rights and human dignity. So if you're ready and it's safe to do so, come out, come out, wherever you are... and start having these conversations!!

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