Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Abraham S. Fischler College of Education


Zulfikar Kalam

Committee Member

Marcelo Castro

Committee Member

Angela Yehl


anti-gay, backlash, hate crimes, politics, same sex marriage, sexual orientation


Research on the dynamics of violence has revealed that crimes involving a prejudicial motive often occur in close temporal proximity to a galvanizing event such as elections, terrorist attacks, or unprecedented Supreme Court decisions. Given the particularly contested nature of marriage policy, it is not inconceivable that same-sex marriage recognition might incite retaliatory violence. Same-sex couples were granted the right to marry by the United States Supreme Court in June of 2015. By June 2016, Orlando, Florida experienced the “deadliest incident of violence against LGBTQ people in U.S. history,” after a mass shooting at Pulse nightclub resulted in the death of 49 individuals and wounding of 53 others. In 1999, Vermont’s Supreme Court unanimously ruled that same-sex couples were entitled to the same benefits and protections afforded by Vermont law to married heterosexual couples. Soon thereafter, the number of anti-gay hate crimes increased 125%, from 4 in 1999 to 9 in 2000.

In the proposed study, secondary data from Hate Crimes in Florida Reports, provided by the Florida’s Attorney General, were analyzed to assess the current prevalence of hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation in Florida after the legalization of same-sex marriages and to determine if there is a close temporal connection between hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation in Florida and the legalization of same-sex marriages. Data analysis revealed that two years after the 2015 marriage equality Supreme Court decision, hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation in Florida increased from a mean of 25% in the three years prior to the decision to 30% in the two years after the decision to legalize same-sex marriages. This slight increase in reported incidents indicates there was no suggestion of a temporal connection between the marriage equality decision and hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation during the postdecision years. However, the increase during the year after implementation of the marriage equality decision is in alignment with trends revealed in prior research on the relationship between politics and violent crimes.