Graduate Program

Political Science

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Melinda A. Mueller

Thesis Committee Member

Barbara L. Poole

Thesis Committee Member

Richard A. Wandling


Literature on LGBT politics and rights has been limited. at best. Little information exists as to how coalitions form and build on successes and failures. Seeking to expand the body of research. this study examined the interest group coalitions active on either side of the highly divisive issue of same-sex marriage. Through a comparative case study, the research showed that at the subnational level many issues affect coalition success, including political culture, divisiveness, and in what arena policy change is occurring. Unsurprisingly, the study shows that perturbations in the subsystem led to the greatest response from coalitions, which led to the most change. Examination of policy subsystems exposed not only what actions coalitions engage in but also showed how group tactics evolve in response to subsystem shocks. This study provides a meaningful contribution to previous research within Advocacy Coalition Framework and Punctuated Equilibrium Theory.