Interactional dynamics of same-sex marriage legislation in the United States
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Understanding how people form opinions and make decisions is a complex phenomenon that depends on both personal practices and interactions. Recent availability of real-world data has enabled quantitative analysis of opinion formation, which illuminates phenomena that impact physical and social sciences. Public policies exemplify complex opinion formation spanning individual and population scales, and a timely example is the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States. Here, we seek to understand how this issue captures the relationship between state-laws and Senate representatives subject to geographical and ideological factors. Using distancebased correlations, we study how physical proximity and stategovernment ideology may be used to extract patterns in statelaw adoption and senatorial support of same-sex marriage. Results demonstrate that proximal states have similar opinion dynamics in both state-laws and senators’ opinions, and states with similar state-government ideology have analogous senators’ opinions. Moreover, senators’ opinions drive statelaws with a time lag. Thus, change in opinion not only results from negotiations among individuals, but also reflects inherent spatial and political similarities and temporal delays. We build a social impact model of state-law adoption in light of these results, which predicts the evolution of state-laws legalizing same-sex marriage over the last three decades.