A data visualization of reasons that lead to Obergefell

Project Overview

The political climate after 2016 Presidential election ruling has placed some of the groups in a precarious position. With the new government taking over, the LGBTQ community faces a fear of possible revokement of same-sex marriage rights. Hence, at this juncture it felt important to investigate what all reasons led to Obergefell and what could be the effects of an alternate ruling.

Partnered with : Julia Petrich for data collection and concept development
Course : Communication Design Studio, Fall 2016
Instructor : Stacie Rohrbach
Duration : Five weeks
My Role : Communication design, Data analysis, Concept development, Data visualization

Project Brief :  We’ve all seen data visualizations — some of them effective; many of them simply pleasing graphics. Dive into the process of conceiving and crafting visuals that communicate information in ways that are useful, usable, and intuitive.

Concept Development

Julia and I chose Affection, from Manfred Max- Neef’s classification of human needs, for data collection. We focussed on respect, family, expressing emotions and privacy from each category as our jumping off point. 


Research Question

The questions that emerged from our discussions were directed towards the changing trends in same-sex marriages and how different factors contribute to it. We framed our question as,

"How do state-wise legalization, changing attitudes of people, and visibility of same-sex marriages in USA relate over time leading up to Obergefell?"


Data Sets

Legalization- New York Times,  Visibility of same-sex marriages- The Williams Institute,  Public Opinion- Pew Research Center



Key Findings:

  • America was ready for national legalization.
  • All three factors trend upwards together with no obvious causation.
  • Generational data indicates increased favoring.

Data Visualization

The main goal is to provide a comparative overview of the changing attitudes of people with legalization of and visibility of same-sex marriages in USA from 2004 to 2016 . The animation plays continuously until the user interacts with it for detailed bifurcation for each year.

Key Frames

The concentric rings in the visualization signify percentages while radial strokes depict years.

There was an upward pattern between visibility and legalization over the years, but I wondered how the rest of the nation felt about the decision and whether it had a contribution to the rising trend of these layers.

Rise in number of people supporting the same-sex marriage resonated with the rising trends of legalization and visibility. But it was hard to determine which rise lead to the other?

The causal effects of one on the other cannot be determined when seen as separate entities. So, I represented the data in conjunction with the other two layers. The filter options do provide an option of viewing each data individually, and the time bar can be clicked to see the details for that particular year. The markers on the time bar show percent data of each layer enlarged on the right side. 

Another interesting relationship between changing attitudes of people is based on generations. While the visualization method remains the same, as the first part, this visualization conveys acceptance through growing ripple effect.