CSDP Fellow and Grad Student Collaboration: Bureaucratic Responsiveness to LGBT Americans

Nov. 20, 2019

Kenneth Lowande and Andrew Proctor started working together when Lowande was a CSDP Fellow and Proctor a CSDP-affiliated graduate student, in 2017-2018. Curious about whether the publicized cases of refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples reflected a wider trend, they reached out to more than 4,000 jurisdictions that issue marriage licenses in the 48 contiguous states. 

Lowande and Proctor drafted an email that requested information about getting a marriage license. The email was randomized to be sent from three combinations of couples: male same-sex couples, female same-sex couples and heterosexual couples. The names used in these emails were chosen to provide a “clear signal of gender." Then, they  evaluated the responses these emails received to determine the rate of response. They determined there was no difference across same-sex couples compared to heterosexual couples: county officials gave no less information, were no less likely to say congratulations and were no less likely to respond.

The study, "Bureaucratic Responsiveness to LGBT Americans," is published in the American Journal of Political Science. Lowande is currently assistant professor of political science at the University of Michigan, and Proctor is postdoctoral research associate at the University of Minnesota.