Alison Gash - University of Oregon. Eugene, OR, US

Alison Gash Alison Gash

Associate Professor, Department of Political Science | University of Oregon

Eugene, OR, US

Expert in U.S. courts, gender, race, sexuality, same-sex marriage, constitutional rights and public policy



Alison Gash Publication







Alison Gash is an expert in U.S. courts, gender, race, sexuality, same-sex marriage, constitutional rights and public policy. At the University of Oregon, she is an assistant professor of political science. Her research explores how advocates work to overcome contentious policy debates and how their efforts ultimately influence the "facts on the ground." She is the author of Below the Radar: How Silence Can Save Civil Rights (Oxford University Press 2015). Her work as been featured in Washington Monthly, Politico, Slate, Huffington Post, Newsweek and The Conversation.

Areas of Expertise (4)

U.S. Courts Gender, Race, & Sexuality Same-Sex Marriage Constitutional Rights

Media Appearances (7)

How Trump Will Roll Back Obama’s Progress on Gay Rights

Washington Monthly  print


For gay, lesbian and transgender Americans, the dawn of the Trump administration brings with it enormous uncertainty, if not the potential for a major step backward in the march toward equality.

Under Obama, gay, lesbian and transgender Americans were emboldened by hope and by a broad rhetoric of inclusion–across religion, race, gender, and sexuality–that was matched with a demonstrated commitment to equality in the policies he passed. Under Trump, hope has turned to fear—by a rhetoric that broadly constrains equality and invites intolerance towards many of the country’s most disenfranchised communities. Trump’s promise to uphold Obama’s federal workplace policy should not be ignored, but neither should it be viewed as a sufficient measure for maintaining the extensive progress made over the past four years or for safeguarding against the very real threats to the lives of LGBTQ Americans.

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The Long Arm Of The SCOTUS

Jefferson Public Radio  radio


University of Oregon political scientist Alison Gash focuses on courts and rights in her work.

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The Conversation We’re Not Having About Rape

Washington Monthly  print


The problem is much bigger than Trump—so why aren’t we talking about it?

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What's the Deal With the Backlash Against Gender-neutral Bathrooms?

Michigan Radio  


"What bathrooms can transgendered people use?" has become a hot-button question not only in Michigan, but across the United States.

Public comments pour in as the Michigan Board of Education continues to draft its voluntary guidelines to assist schools in addressing the needs of their LGBTQ students.

Alison Gash is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Oregon, who wrote about the public backlash of gender-neutral bathrooms in a recent op-ed. Gash joined Cynthia Canty on today's Stateside...

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What’s the Backlash Against Gender-neutral Bathrooms All About?

The Conversation - US  


Last week North Carolina became the first state to pass a law requiring transgender individuals (including students) to use only bathrooms that match their biological (rather than identified) gender. They did so in response to an ordinance passed in Charlotte that supported transgender bathroom choice...

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Gay Parenting in the Post-Obergefell World

Washington Monthly  


Like most same-sex couples raising children, April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, wanted to secure as many legal protections as possible for their children to fill the void that their state’s marriage ban created. And, like many same-sex couples across the country they sought a second-parent adoption—a common practice in over half the states that would permit both women to be legally recognized as parents to their children despite their marital status. But unlike many same-sex couples DeBoer and Rowse were not permitted to second-parent adopt each other’s child. In 2002, Michigan had bucked a nationwide trend legitimizing same-sex couples’ co-parenting status when Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Maura Corrigan forced the Chief Judge of Washtenaw County (the primary source of the state’s second-parent adoptions) to end the practice. When the juvenile court judge responsible for granting these adoptions refused, the chief judge took over all adoptions. Initially, DeBoer and Rowse set their sights on reversing this edict, but they quickly realized that the only way forward was to remove Michigan’s marriage ban altogether...

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The Collaborative Governance Greatest Hits



Let’s start with some classic definitions of collaborative governance, with the first coming from Chris Ansell and Alison Gash's 2007 paper Collaborative Governance in Theory and Practice. Ansell and Gash describe the concept as “a governing arrangement where one or more public agencies directly engage non-state stakeholders in a collective decision-making process that is formal, consensus-oriented, and deliberative and that aims to make or implement public policy or manage public programs or assets.”...

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Articles (5)

Parenting without Protection: How Legal Status Ambiguity Affects Gay and Lesbian Parenthood Law & Social Inquiry


Through the lens of lesbian and gay parenthood we ask how individuals who experience “legal status ambiguity”—that which emerges when legal fluctuations combine with divided attitudes, ignorance of the law, and autonomous institutional gatekeepers—exercise their legal rights and responsibilities. The results from thirty-one interviews with lesbian and gay parents in Oregon and their six adult children suggest that the state's fluctuating legal and social climates for lesbian and gay parenting between 1985 and 2013 presented significant challenges for two generations of same-sex parents. Although both cohorts created and utilized a range of legal and social mechanisms to assert their legal rights, they found these rights to be controlled as much by gatekeeper perspectives as by legal force. After the 2015 Obergefell ruling on marriage equality, lesbian and gay parenting status remains a site of ongoing legal and social contestation, providing insight into the risks and challenges of legal status ambiguity.

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State, Status, and the American Family Polity


Imagine a world where households have to apply to be considered a family by the state. They would need to document how their domestic grouping fulfills the requirements of “family” through bank statements, passports, Social Security numbers, and perhaps even recommendations from those in their community attesting to the strength and quality of their relationships or their health and fitness. In reality, this scenario is not as far-fetched as one might think. We contend that family is a status bestowed by the state. The state invokes, imposes, and relies on the family as an instrument of policy implementation and enforcement and as way of organizing and managing a productive society. In disseminating the benefits and protections that hinge on family, the state holds significant autonomy in determining whether certain households will be perceived and treated as families in the eyes of the state. Through the lens of policy debates regarding LGBTQ-headed households, single-mother-headed households, and group homes, we argue the following: concepts of family operate as an arm of the state; as more policies hinge on familyhood, more households seek that determination from the state; and state actors are at once exclusive and inconsistent in granting this status. In all, this suggests that rather than operating only as a matter of individual choice – a way of naming our private relationships – family should also be understood as a state-appointed and -anointed status.

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Venue Effects: How Policy Source Influences Policy Support Politics & Policy


Does receiving information about a policy's source shape individual support for the policy? Is the public more supportive of policies issued by courts, legislatures, or citizens voting on a ballot initiative? Using a survey experiment, we find strong evidence that learning about a policy's source can affect support for the policy. Specifically, we find that state-level policy sources influence both the degree and direction of influence on policy support. In general, when informed about a policy's source, survey participants are least likely to support the policy when it is judicially determined and instead prefer the policy when it is produced either through the legislature or by the voters. However, upon learning of the policy's source, self-identified partisans and Independents differ significantly in their support for the policy.

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Stewards, Mediators, and Catalysts: Toward a Model of Collaborative Leadership The Innovation Journal


Leadership is widely recognized as an important ingredient in successful collaboration. Collaborative leaders typically play a facilitative role, encouraging and enabling stakeholders to work together effectively. Building on the existing literature on collaborative governance and interviews with leaders of U.S. Workforce Investment Boards, we identify three facilitative roles for collaborative leaders. Stewards facilitate collaboration by helping to convene collaboration and maintain its integrity. Mediators facilitate collaboration by managing conflict and arbitrating exchange between stakeholders. Catalysts facilitate collaboration by helping to identify and realize value-creating opportunities. Although collaborative leaders are called upon to play multiple roles, the salience of these roles may vary with the circumstances and goals of collaboration. In situations of high conflict and low trust, for example, collaborative leaders may be called upon to emphasize steward and mediator roles. In situations where creative problem-solving is the primary goal, the catalyst role may become much more central. Distinguishing these three collaborative leadership roles is an important step toward building a contingency model of collaborative leadership.

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Collaborative Governance in Theory and Practice Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory


Over the past few decades, a new form of governance has emerged to replace adversarial and managerial modes of policy making and implementation. Collaborative governance, as it has come to be known, brings public and private stakeholders together in collective forums with public agencies to engage in consensus-oriented decision making. In this article, we conduct a meta-analytical study of the existing literature on collaborative governance with the goal of elaborating a contingency model of collaborative governance. After reviewing 137 cases of collaborative governance across a range of policy sectors, we identify critical variables that will influence whether or not this mode of governance will produce successful collaboration. These variables include the prior history of conflict or cooperation, the incentives for stakeholders to participate, power and resources imbalances, leadership, and institutional design. We also identify a series of factors that are crucial within the collaborative process itself. These factors include face-to-face dialogue, trust building, and the development of commitment and shared understanding. We found that a virtuous cycle of collaboration tends to develop when collaborative forums focus on “small wins” that deepen trust, commitment, and shared understanding. The article concludes with a discussion of the implications of our contingency model for practitioners and for future research on collaborative governance.

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