Experiencing Same-Sex Marriage

Individuals, Couples, and Social Networks

by Pamela Lannutti (Author)
©2014 Monographs X, 130 Pages


This book provides an understanding of how the legal and cultural debates and advances and limitations on same-sex marriage are experienced by gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) people, same-sex couples, and their social networks. Using data collected from hundreds of GLBT people, same-sex couples, and their social networks over the past decade, the book examines the following topics: same-sex marriages’ impact on how GLBT individuals view their relationships and community; same-sex couples’ decision making regarding whether to marry or not; the interactions between same-sex couples and members of their families-of-origin regarding same-sex marriage; the same-sex marriage experiences of understudied members of the GLBT community; and the interactions between same-sex couples and members of their social networks in locations with restrictions against legally recognized same-sex marriage. These findings are examined through the lens of the social scientific study of relationships. They are based on a communication studies perspective on personal relationships, and therefore emphasize communication concepts and theories relevant to the understanding of same-sex marriage experiences.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the Author
  • About the Book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Acknowledgments
  • Chapter One. Introduction
  • Same-sex Marriage Experiences through a Communication Studies Lens
  • Looking Ahead in This Book
  • Chapter Two. Legally Recognized Same-sex Marriage as a New Relational Context
  • Perceptions and Experiences of the Introduction of Same-sex Marriage in the U.S.
  • Dialectical Tensions and Expectations of Same-sex Marriage
  • GLBT community
  • Between the GLBT community and non-GLBT community members
  • Same-sex couples
  • Looking Further into Expectations of Same-sex Marriage and Partnerships
  • Making relationships seem more real
  • Revealing desires
  • Introduction of Legally Recognized Same-sex Marriage as a New Context
  • Chapter Three. Should We Get Hitched? Same-sex Couples Deciding to Marry or Not
  • Attractions and Obstacles When Considering Same-sex Marriage
  • Attractions to Marriage for Same-sex Couples
  • Between the couple and general society
  • Between the couple and their social network
  • Between the members of the couple
  • Obstacles to Marriage for Same-sex Couples
  • Between the couple and general society.
  • Between the couple and their social network
  • Problems with weddings and marriage
  • Overcoming Obstacles to Same-sex Marriage
  • Direct solutions
  • Indirect solutions
  • Same-sex Couples Who Choose to Not Marry
  • Same-sex Couples’ Reasons to Not Marry
  • “Not now, maybe later” Couples’ Same-sex Marriage Considerations
  • Same-sex Couples and Decisions about Marriage
  • Chapter Four. Same-sex Marriage, Couples, and Families
  • Couples’ Communication with Family-of-Origin Members about Same-sex Marriage
  • Same-sex Marriage as a Context for Privacy Rule Change
  • Negotiating Sharing the News about Same-sex Couples’ Marriages
  • Negotiating Revealing and Concealing Couples’ Relationship Details
  • Same-sex Marriage and Families Created by Same-sex Couples
  • Chapter Five. Same-sex Marriage Experiences of Understudied Members of the GLBT Community
  • Bisexual-lesbian Couples’ Same-sex Marriage Experiences
  • Same-sex Marriage and Self-image among Bisexual-Lesbian Couples
  • Same-sex Marriage and Bisexual-Lesbian Couples’ Romantic Relationship
  • Same-sex Marriage, Bisexual-Lesbian Couples, and Social Networks
  • Same-sex Marriage, Bisexual-Lesbian Couples, and the GLBT Community
  • Same-sex Marriage Experiences of Older Same-sex Couples
  • Same-sex Marriage, Older Couples, and Increased Sense of Security
  • Same-sex Marriage, Older Couples, and Increased Sense of Recognition
  • Same-sex Marriage, Older Couples, and Misgivings about Same-sex Marriage
  • The Need to Understand the Diversity of Same-sex marriage Experiences
  • Chapter Six. When Banns Are Banned: Experiences of Same-sex Marriage Prohibitions
  • Communication about Marriage Amendments: Same-sex Couples and Their Extended Social Networks
  • Coming Out to Extended Social Network Members
  • Social Support from Extended Social Network Members
  • Solidarity between Same-sex Couples and Extended Social Network Members
  • Disconfirmation from Extended Social Network Members
  • Experiences of Marriage Amendments for GLBT Individuals, Same-sex Couples, and Their Social Networks
  • Chapter Seven. Conclusion
  • Limitations of the Research on Same-sex Marriage
  • Future Directions and Concluding Thoughts
  • Notes
  • References
  • Index


I am grateful to those who have supported, encouraged, and assisted me in my research examining same-sex marriage over the past decade and have helped to make this book possible. First, I am grateful to the hundreds of GLBT people and same-sex couples who were graciously willing to share their time and experiences with me as I collected data over the years. I have always drawn inspiration and motivation for my research from teaching, so I am also grateful for my students at La Salle University and Boston College for the influence they have had on my same-sex marriage research. I am especially grateful for my former students who served as assistants on research discussed in this book: Leslie and Tara Abbott, Amanda Denes, and Maddie Redlick.

I have received inspiration and encouragement from many dear friends. Love and encouragement from Candice Costa and Stephanie Hunt have meant more to me than they know. Marie Butler, Rebecca Wingfield, Diane O’Connell, Carol Morris O’Connell, Amy Lipman, Sarah Goldman and Maria Grigoriadis have served as willing sounding boards and occasionally unwilling examples in my presentations and teaching. I am blessed to have friends within the Communication field who have been encouraging of my work, especially Jennifer Bevan, Leah Bryant, Megan Dillow, Ashley Duggan, Bonnie Jefferson, John Jordan, Kenny Lachlan Melanie Laliker, Jessica Moore, Chuck Morris, Archana Pathak, Beth Suter, and the MVCA. I am grateful to Paul Achter, Erin Sahlstein, and Kathryn Greene for inviting me to their campuses to present my work on same-sex marriage and providing me with encouragement and important feedback. I am grateful to Jennifer Monahan for teaching me how to be a scholar. I could not have completed much of the research discussed in this book without Dale Herbeck’s friendship, wonderful department chairmanship, and championing of my work. Lynne Texter encouraged the beginning of my academic career as my undergraduate advisor and now serves as my ultra-supportive department chair in the Department of Communication at La Salle University. I am grateful to Lynne and my La Salle University colleagues for their support. I am especially thankful for the friendship, ← vii | viii → feedback, advice, encouragement, and motivation provided by Sandra Faulkner. It’s a wonderful thing to have a friend that has supported you unconditionally (albiet with a healthy dose of mocking!) for over 20 years, and therefore I am so thankful that I met the Elena Strauman on the first day of college and that we have been able to share each step in our academic journies.

My work on same-sex marriage has been improved through the feedback and encouragement of editors, reviewers and colleagues. I am especially grateful to Leslie Baxter, Jerry Bigner, John De Cecco, Pearl Dykstra, Adam Fingerhut, Paz Galupo, Paul Mongeau, Sandra Petronio, Ellen D.B. Riggle, Sharon Scales Rostosky, and Mary Claire Morr Serewicz. Special thanks to my editor at Peter Lang, Mary Savigar.

I am very appreciative of the love and support of my family. Thank you to my parents, Paul and Marie Lannutti, and my brother and sister-in-law, Anthony and Kelly Lannutti, for their love and support. Special thanks to my niece, Juli, and my nephew, Ethan, for making sure I had fun and laughter breaks as I wrote this book. Frankie and Elvis have literally stayed by my side as I worked on this project. I am extremely grateful to Kellie Cochran for her love, encouragement, support, proofreading, formatting skills, and enduring patience!

Portions of the material in this book have appeared in my previous articles. Portions of Chapter 2 appeared in Lannutti (2005), “For better or worse: Exploring the meanings of same-sex marriage within the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered community,” Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 22, 5–18, SAGE Publications and Lannutti (2007a), “The influence of same-sex marriage on the understanding of same-sex relationships,” Journal of Homosexuality, 53, 135–151, The Haworth Press. Portions of Chapter 3 appeared in Lannutti (2008), “Attractions and obstacles while considering legally recognized same-sex marriage,” Journal of GLBT Family Studies, 4, 245–264, The Haworth Press. Portions of Chapter 4 appeared as Lannutti (2013), “Same-sex marriage and privacy management: Examining couples’ communication with family members,” Journal of Family Communication, 13, 60–75, Taylor and Francis. Portions of Chapter 5 appeared as Lannutti (2007b), “‘This is not a lesbian wedding’: Examining same-sex marriage and bisexual-lesbian couples,” Journal of Bisexuality, 34, 239–260, The Haworth Press and Lannutti (2011), “Security, recognition, and misgivings: Exploring older same-sex couples’ experiences of legally recognized same-sex marriage,” Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 28, 64–82, SAGE Publications. Portions of Chapter 6 appeared as Lannutti (2011b), “Examining communication about marriage ← viii | ix → amendments: Same-sex couples and their extended social networks,” Journal of Social Issues, 67, 264–281, Wiley.

← ix | x → ← x | 1 →



Althought members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) community in the United States may be thought of by many as leading untradiational lifestyles, the community does have traditions. One such tradition is that the GLBT pride parade is lead by the raucous Dykes on Bikes contingent in any given community. The Boston GLBT Pride parade in June 2004 started off in the traditional way: the waiting crowds lining the city streets and waving rainbow flags cheered as the celebratory sounds of roaring motorcycles approached them. The riders were rolling up the street with one bike leading the pack. The roars of the motorcycles were deafening, but the sight of the leading rider was causing the crowd’s cheer to rise above the noise of the bikes. The woman driving that first motorcycle smiled broadly, as did the passenger of the bike’s sidecar: another woman holding a “Just Married!” sign and the couple’s young child. That lead motorcycle didn’t just signal the beginning of that year’s Pride parade, it signaled the beginning of a new relatonal context for GLBT people, same-sex couples, and their social networks.

When those crowds were gathered in Boston for GBLT pride in June 2004, legally recognized same-sex marriages in the United States had only been available since the previous month and were only available in Massachusetts. Same-sex marriage was recognized in Massachusetts when on November 18, 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) declared that it could find no “constitutionally adequate reason for denying civil marriage to same-sex couples,” and ordered the state to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples after a 180-day stay period (Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health, 2003). The SJC decision marked a turning point in the fight for and against same-sex marriage that had been occurring across the United States for nearly a decade (Alderson & Lahey, 2004; Pinello, 2006). Although some American states and municipalities had been legally issuing same-sex couples civil protection for several years (see Pinello, 2006, and Marriage, n.d., for reviews), the Massachusetts SJC decision marked the first time that American same-sex partners would be legally granted the same civil marriage protections as heterosexual couples. ← 1 | 2 →


X, 130
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2013 (December)
relationships community scientific study
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2014. 130 pp.

Biographical notes

Pamela Lannutti (Author)

Pamela J. Lannutti (PhD, University of Georgia) is Associate Professor and Graduate Director in the Department of Communication at La Salle University. Her work has been published in academic journals including Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, Journal of Homosexuality, Qualitative Health Research, and Human Communication Research.


Title: Experiencing Same-Sex Marriage
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