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Rights, Reflection, and Reciprocity: Implications of the Same-Sex Marriage Debate for Tolerance and the Political Process

  • Paul A. Djupe (a1), Andrew R. Lewis (a2) and Ted G. Jelen (a3)


Contentious battles over state-level Religious Freedom Restoration Acts suggest a fundamental refashioning of the “culture war” clashes in American politics. Conservatives — particularly religious conservatives — have come to champion a politics of rights, using “liberal weapons” (rights) to win battles or at least stave off loses. This raises important questions about the long-run effects of making rights claims. Does rights claiming lead to balkanization and reinforce group boundaries or is rights claiming an education in the democratic process that promotes tolerance? Drawing on evidence from an experimental design, we find that exposure to rights claims made by clergy regarding exemptions from participation in same-sex ceremonies acts as a prime to boost tolerance of selected least-liked groups, an effect particularly potent for evangelical Protestants.


Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Paul A. Djupe, Department of Political Science, Denison University, 100 W. College St., Granville, OH 43023. E-mail:; or to: Andrew R. Lewis, Department of Political Science, University of Cincinnati, 301 Clifton Court (ML 0375), Cincinnati, OH 45221. E-mail:; or to: Ted G. Jelen, Department of Political Science, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 4505 S. Maryland Pkwy., Las Vegas, NV 89154. E-mail:


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Rights, Reflection, and Reciprocity: Implications of the Same-Sex Marriage Debate for Tolerance and the Political Process

  • Paul A. Djupe (a1), Andrew R. Lewis (a2) and Ted G. Jelen (a3)


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