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posted on 2023-09-07, 05:10 authored by Brandon Ranallo-Benavidez

This dissertation is situated in the context of expanding marital and parental rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) individuals in the United States. I provide novel practical and conceptual contributions by assessing the impact of LGBTQ marital (Chapter 1) and parental (Chapters 2 and 3) rights.Substantively, using time-series regression, my co-author and I show in Chapter 1 that the expansion of marital rights to LGBTQ adults has no statistically significant negative effects on: (1) the percent of children living in poverty; (2) divorce rates; (3) marriage rates; and, (4) the percent of children living in single-parent households. In Chapter 2, I evaluate Virginia’s 2012 policy change indemnifying contracted child-placing agencies from legal recourse if they refuse to provide foster or adoptive parenting services to LGBTQ adults due to their moral convictions. Using data provided by the Virginia Department of Social Services, I find a statistically significant reduction of over 3 percent in monthly adoption rates of foster children after this policy is implemented in localities with relative high shares of adults in LGBTQ relationships. Chapter 3 utilizes annual state-level data from HHS to determine if LGBTQ-inclusive anti-discrimination policies influence outcomes for foster children. I find statistically significant evidence that such policies reduce the average length of stay in the system of foster children by over 40 days in states with such policies, compared to states without them. However, I find no statistically significant effect on the percent of foster children exiting the system annually. Theoretically, this dissertation validates my expanded conceptualization of administrative burden introduced in Chapter 2—redefined as clients/citizens’ experiences of limited access to public policy benefits, goods, or services due to a public organization’s or private contractor’s cumbersome or restrictive procedures or requirements. By extending the definition of administrative burden to third-party governance contexts, I open avenues for future research. I also highlight the promise of tying together the concepts of social equity and administrative burden. Finally, I contribute evidence that administrative burdens not only influence those directly experiencing the burden, but also can spillover to indirectly affect others (such as foster children who go unadopted because of LGBTQ adults’ experiences of burdens). Future research on downstream effects of administrative burdens is warranted.



American University


Degree Awarded: Ph.D. Public Administration and Policy. American University.; Electronic thesis available to American University authorized users only, per author's request.


Degree grantor

American University. School of Public Policy

Degree level

  • Doctoral

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