For David Fleischer, it was a gut-punch when Proposition 8, the ballot initiative banning gay marriage, passed in California in 2008. He wondered: What could we do to change people’s minds on this subject?
So through his Leadership LAB at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, he launched an experiment. Every other weekend, he sent canvassers to neighborhoods where Prop 8 had passed by a 2-to-1 margin, from the Latino-heavy neighborhoods of East L.A. to black neighborhoods such as Inglewood to the predominantly white Northeast. The goal was to simply talk with the voters at their doorsteps, as they were walking their dogs or sitting in their cars, and engage them on the subject of same-sex marriage.
The experiment appears to have been a success, according to a study being published in the journal Science. Support for same-sex marriage jumped eight percentage points among those voters who had a single conversation with a gay canvasser, according to the study. And not only did that support persist a year later, it also trickled over to other members of the household, the study’s authors found.
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