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Experiencing Same-Sex Marriage

Individuals, Couples, and Social Networks

Pamela Lannutti

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.
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Chapter One. Introduction

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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...

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