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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 Two. Legally Recognized Same-sex Marriage as a New Relational Context

Extract

On June 6, 2013, the PEW Research Center for the People and the Press released new data about American attitudes toward legally recognized same-sex marriage (PEW Research Center, 2013). The poll revealed that the number of Americans who support same-sex marriage reached beyond 50% for the first time since PEW began polling about the issue in 2003 (PEW Reseach Center, 2013). According to PEW’s (2013) study, 72% of Americans surveyed believed that legal recognition of same-sex marriage was inevitable. 72% is a large percentage, especially when you consider that PEW’s poll in 2004 indicated that only 59% of Americans surveyed believed that legal recognition of same-sex marriage was inevitable. These poll results are indicative of a shift in American culture when it comes to same-sex marriage. The poll shows how rapidly public opinion about the place of same-sex marriage in American life has changed from 2004 when Massachusetts became the first state to allow same-sex couples to legally wed to nearly a decade later when same-sex couples could wed in 13 states and D.C. While public opinion polls like those produced by PEW can show us a picture of large opinion shifts and trends, they cannot tell us much about how GLBT people, same-sex couples, and their social networks are affected by them. This chapter explores how legally recognized same-sex marriage forms a new relational context for GLBT people, same-sex couples, and their social networks and how that context affects their perceptions and relationships.

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