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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 Four. Same-sex Marriage, Couples, and Families


As I have surveyed and interviewed GLBT people and same-sex couples about same-sex marriage over the past decade, one important aspect of their lives seems to always enter the picture: family. As discussed in Chapter 2, GLBT people perceive same-sex marriage as a means to better protect their family unit and to gain greater relationship recognition from their family-of-orign. In Chapter 3, married and engaged same-sex couples mentioned greater protection for their family unit and greater recognition for their relationship from their family-of-origin as attractions to marriage. Yet, 41% of the married or engaged same-sex couples discussed in Chapter 3 also listed objections from family-of-origin members as an obstacle to getting married. Same-sex couples who have chosen to not marry, as discussed in Chapter 3, also listed objections or resistence from family-of-origin members as a reason to not marry. Further, some same-sex couples who do not want to marry now listed the ability to make having and protecting a family easier as a reason to possibily consider marriage in the future. Thus, I have consistently found that same-sex marriage and family, either a family unit created by the couple or families-of-origin, are intertwined.

While many studies have examined a variety of characteristics and experiences of same-sex couples and their families (see Goldberg, 2010), relatively few studies have focused specifically on same-sex marriage and families. Even fewer studies have examined same-sex marriage and families from a Communication Studies perspective. Research examining the experiences of same-sex couples and their family...

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