20 Pages

Black State Legislators and Morality Politics

WithDonn Worgs

In recent years, there have been many high profile examples of African-Americans mobilizing to influence “morality policy” issues. The most galvanizing of these issues has been same-sex marriage. This study examines how Black state legislators have responded when faced with legislation that would either restrict marriage rights or expand the rights of same-sex couples. An examination of Black state legislators’ votes on these measures reveals that most have opposed restrictions on marriage rights, usually at a higher rate than other Democrats. When confronted with legislation expanding rights of same-sex couples, a majority of Black legislators support these measures. This voting record stands in contrast to the attitudes and voting behavior of the broader Black population as indicated by opinion data and exit polling. This divergence from the position of the broader population is likely the result of personal attitudes of the legislators and political party strategy.