Academic journal article Educational Research Quarterly

Legal Rights to Homosexuals into the Areas of Domestic Partnerships and Marriages: Public Support and Genetic Causation Attribution

Academic journal article Educational Research Quarterly

Legal Rights to Homosexuals into the Areas of Domestic Partnerships and Marriages: Public Support and Genetic Causation Attribution

Article excerpt

In a random national sample of 800 English-speaking adults, ages 18 and over, 26 percent supported legalization of homosexual marriages and 42 percent endorsed homosexual domestic partnerships. The greater the degree to which this sample attributed homosexuality to genetics, the greater was the support for extending homosexual rights. These effects were maintained at the multivariate level of analysis. The effects of genetic attribution for extending homosexual rights seem to benefit from other ideologies. Having a deterministic rather than a free will worldview was a strong influence for homosexual rights. Political liberalism and conservative libertarianism increased support. On the other hand, the moderate bivariate effects of religiosity were eliminated at the multivariate level of analysis.

Attribution of causation which people give to the behavior of individuals is bedrock of much of sociology and especially social psychology. In the simplest of terms, attribution theorists analyze how people explain their own behavior, as well as the behavior of other people. Heider (1958), in his classic attribution theory, asserts that people usually ascribe someone's behavior as resulting from internal causes or external causes. An example of internal causes is the disposition of the individual whose behavior is being analyzed. The context of the person's behavior could be ascribed external causes.

Genetics as a cause and/or causal predisposition of person's behavior would almost always be ascribed as an internal cause for the behavior being analyzed. The internal causation attribution would prevail whether the observers were experts or of the general population. The role of genetics (if any) as a scientific cause of homosexuality is beyond the scope of this paper. Opinions abound among laity and scholars regarding any role that genetics might have as a cause for homosexuality. This paper is interested in the opinions of the general public, as to the causation attribution for why some individuals are homosexuals. To what extent, if any, does attribution influence extending rights and privileges to homosexuals? The rights and/or privileges for homosexuals include (a) same sex marriages as the legal equivalent of the traditional heterosexual marriages and (b) legal status for domestic partners (not marriage) as measures of the dependent variable.

Besides genetics, this research included other items that are suspected as possibly accounting for some of the variance in the responses regarding stances toward homosexuals. Like attribution in general and especially genetics, researchers studying public opinion regarding homosexuals has sparsely utilized these variables. Religiosity seems the most frequent in the literature regarding public's attitude concerning homosexuality.

The expectation among researchers that subjects' religiosity would be an important variable might come from a negative view toward homosexuals in the Old Testament. Being in the Old, rather than in the New Testament, the statement is relevant for Christians and Jews. The Book of Leviticus calls homosexual acts between men an abomination! The Judeo-Christian tradition might seem complex but the implication regarding homosexuality appears simplistically direct (Boyer, 1983).

Free-will determinism seems related to ideas concerning genetics and religiosity. Nettler (1959) introduced this philosophical concept as an empirical variable. Nettler found that those who thought that human behavior is free will, rather than determined were more punitive toward law violators in general and more supportive of capital punishment. Nettler saw this association as part of the dignity of punishment that is an integral part of being human and, therefore, possessing free will. Viney et al., (1982) also found that free will was associated with more punitive attitudes and greater support for capital punishment for the mentally retarded.

Political ideology, liberalism-conservatism, is included as a variable. …

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