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Rhetoric, framing efforts have little influence in same-sex marriage debate
Date:8/16/2010

ATLANTA -- A study by Indiana University researchers found that terminology and efforts to frame an issue -- often effective in influencing public opinion -- have no effect on public opinion concerning the ongoing debate in the U.S. over legalizing same-sex marriage.

Using an experimental approach involving a nationally representative sample, the researchers found that beliefs and values held sway, not rhetoric, such as the use of 'same-sex couple' instead of 'homosexual couple' or using the term 'civil rights' instead of 'gay rights.'

"Framing, wording doesn't matter," said Oren Pizmony-Levy, a doctoral student in IU's Department of Sociology. He discussed the study on Monday at the American Sociological Association 2010 Annual Meeting. "We need to stop trying to change the rhetoric and focus on the important issues, such as the benefits that children in same-sex families gain from the legalization of same-sex marriage."

About the study: The researchers embedded their unique experiment -- the first of its kind -- in the 2009 Survey of American Social Policy Attitudes, designed by IU sociology professor Clem Brooks. The survey, which involved more than 1,400 respondents, included one of six versions of the question: "Should homosexual couples have the right to marry one another?" To test for framing effects, they manipulated the question by using different words to describe supporters of legalized same-sex marriage, using 'civil rights activist,' 'gay rights activist' or 'some people.' They also varied the term used for describing the social category of those who are subject of the debate, using 'homosexual couples' and 'same-sex couples.' Different versions of the question were randomly assigned to participants in the survey. A counter statement, "Family values activists argue that only heterosexual couples should have the right to marry," appeared before the question. Pizmony-Levy said this is the first academic study with a nationa
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Contact: Daniel Fowler
fowler@asanet.org
202-527-7885
American Sociological Association
Source:Eurekalert

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