Nov 21, 2014
Authors Long Doan, Annalise Loehr, and Lisa Miller discuss their article published in the December 2014 issue of American Sociological Review.
Abstract: Attitudes toward gay rights have liberalized over the past few decades, but scholars know less about the extent to which individuals in the United States exhibit subtle forms of prejudice toward lesbians and gays. To help address this issue, we offer a conceptualization of formal rights and informal privileges. Using original data from a nationally representative survey experiment, we examine whether people distinguish between formal rights (e.g., partnership benefits) and informal privileges (e.g., public displays of affection) in their attitudes toward same-sex couples. Results show that heterosexuals are as willing to extend formal rights to same-sex couples as they are to unmarried heterosexual couples. However, they are less willing to grant informal privileges. Lesbians and gays are more willing to extend formal rights to same-sex couples, but they too are sometimes more supportive of informal privileges for heterosexual couples. We also find that heterosexuals’ attitudes toward marriage more closely align with their attitudes toward informal privileges than formal rights, whereas lesbians and gays view marriage similarly to both formal rights and informal privileges. Our findings highlight the need to examine multiple dimensions of sexual prejudice to help understand how informal types of prejudice persist as minority groups receive formal rights.
Read the article here: