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Study: Gay canvassers more effective at changing minds on marriage equality

The key element, Green said, would be for the canvasser to somehow personify, in a positive way, the issue at stake.

There’s a widespread perception that many Americans have closed themselves to competing viewpoints, Green said.

“The view that comes out of this paper is much more optimistic,” he said. “If you have a respectful conversation between two people, minds can be changed.”

However, he doubted that voters need worry about an array of political campaigns sending canvassers to their doorsteps in quest for a heartfelt 20-minute conversation.

“Talking about this approach with campaign consultants, I get nothing but resistance,” Green said. “Quantity trumps quality in their eyes. They want to have at most a 3-minute conversation with voters, and they do not want to have a two-way conversation.”

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On June 26, 2013, just a few weeks after the canvassers’ conversations, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down California’s gay-marriage ban and ordered the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages.

Since then, due to a series of lower court rulings, the number of states allowing same-sex marriage has more than doubled to 35.

“We’ve always known that the biggest engine of change of heart is conversation with a gay person or a non-gay person who supports the freedom to marry,” said Evan Wolfson, president of the advocacy group Freedom to Marry.

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