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    McThomas, Mary and Buchanan, Robert J. 2012. President Obama and Gay Rights: The 2008 and 2012 Presidential Elections. PS: Political Science & Politics, Vol. 45, Issue. 03, p. 442.


Gay, Straight, or Questioning? Sexuality and Political Science

  • Charles Anthony Smith (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 14 January 2011

In August of 2009, the American Psychological Association adopted the report of its Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation and urged mental health professionals to avoid telling their patients that sexual orientation can be changed (APA 2009a). The report examined the efficacy of “conversion therapies”—also called “reparative therapies”—wherein the patient and therapist attempt to change the sexual orientation of the patient from gay or lesbian to heterosexual. The report is over 160 pages and examines over 80 peer-reviewed, published studies spanning five decades of research. Despite the heft of the report, the findings are briefly and well summarized by the chair of the task force, Judith M. Glassgold, Psy.D.: “Contrary to the claims of sexual orientation change advocates and practitioners, there is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation” (APA 2009b). Of course, this conclusion is a given among all but minor fringe elements in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) community or among this community's friends and affiliates. While sexuality collectively seems to present itself along a scale, it seems for individuals to become fixed at some point along that scale. The APA report provides a useful framework for considering the role of sexuality in political science and raises several important questions for political science as both an endeavor and a discipline.

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David Campbell , and J. Quinn Monson . 2008. “The Religion Card: Gay Marriage and the 2004 Presidential Election.” Public Opinion Quarterly 72: 399419.

Donald P. Haider-Markel , Mark R. Joslyn , and Chad J. Kniss . 2000. “Minority Group Interests and Political Representation: Gay Elected Officials in the Policy Process.” Journal of Politics 62 (2): 568–77.

Thomas M. Keck 2009. “Beyond Backlash: Assessing the Impact of Judicial Decisions on LGBT Rights.” Law & Society Review 43 (1): 151–85.

Jeffrey R. Lax , and Justin H. Phillips . 2009a. “How Should We Estimate Public Opinion in the States?American Journal of Political Science 53 (1): 107–21.

Gregory B. Lewis , and Charles W. Gossett . 2008. “Changing Public Opinion on Same-Sex Marriage: The Case of California.” Politics & Policy 36: 430.

Gary Mucciaroni . 2008. Same Sex, Different Politics: Success and Failure in the Struggles over Gay Rights. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Ritch C. Savin-Williams 2005. The New Gay Teenager. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Charles Anthony Smith . 2007. “The Electoral Capture of Gay and Lesbian Americans: Evidence and Implications from the 2004 Election.” Studies in Law, Politics, and Society 40: 103–21.

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PS: Political Science & Politics
  • ISSN: 1049-0965
  • EISSN: 1537-5935
  • URL: /core/journals/ps-political-science-and-politics
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