Date of Award

Spring 5-2019

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Political Science


Political Science

Major Professor

Day, Christine

Second Advisor

Chervenak, Edward

Third Advisor

Shomade, Salmon


This project creates an original dataset of 1,008 randomly sampled news items that discussed LGBT political issues posted online between 2011 and 2017 by Huffington Post Queer Voices, NPR, and Fox News. I use quantitative methods and content analysis to locate the 14 most popular LGBT political issues in media coverage and to confirm there are three competing media frames of political discussion in coverage of LGBT political issues. There are three results chapters. Chapter 5 describes the 14 LGBT political issues that appear most often in political science research and to what extent media coverage of these 14 issues differs across the political left, right and center. I find that academia addresses more LGBT issues, more often, than does media coverage. Also, media coverage and academic literature contain four competing narratives about LGBT people and issues: a Family Narrative, an Identity Narrative, a Tragedy Narrative, and a Political Activity Narrative. Moreover, politically left media coverage is more like academic discussions about LGBT politics than politically right or centrist media coverage. Chapter 6 describes three competing frames in media coverage. A legal frame contains language that discusses constitutions, trial and appellate courts, litigation tactics, and appellate procedure. A religious frame contains language that discusses the Bible, Jesus, religious-based curative therapy, evangelicals as political participants, and quotes from clergy. An institutional frame contains language that involves elections, political parties, direct democracy, constitutional amendments, local state and federal legislatures, and the President. I find that legal framing of LGBT issues has increased since the 2000s, while religious framing has declined, and political framing is slowly rising – peaking in federal election years then decreasing in non-election years. Chapter 7 describes how the media’s focus on same-sex marriage eclipses coverage of less-covered, but still important, LGBT political issues. Further, since same-sex marriage was legalized nation-wide in 2015, the media has been increasingly focused on transgender issues rather than 13 other LGBT political issues. So, the issues, narratives, and frames one encounters in news coverage about the LGBT is noticeably different than in the 2000s, and differs on the political left, right, and center.


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