January 15, 2015
It is easy to discriminate against a class of people when a person doesn’t know any of the individuals who identify with that class and has never had a real, face to face conversation with any of them. With that working hypothesis in place Michael LaCour, a UCLA doctoral candidate, and Donald Green, a Columbia University political science professor, set out to get some real data.
After sending out teams of both gay/lesbian and straight canvassers to well known, politically conservative areas to speak with people about marriage equality, they discovered that voters were significantly more likely to change their minds to become pro-equality after visiting with the same canvassers several times over the course of a year, even when those visits lasted an average of 22 minutes. What is most interesting, however, is that the “change” was fleeting with the visits from straight advocates of marriage equality, but lasted throughout the study for those who had conversations with gay and lesbian representatives.
“Previously, I’ve been really pessimistic about the prospect of changing someone’s views… . But the results of our study convinced me that enduring change is possible.” -Green
“When those being denied marriage equality have names and faces, hearts and minds are changed,” -LaCour