Current Research

Same-sex marriage: New research and implications for marriage policy

What distinguishes same-sex partners who marry from LGBs in other relationship statuses (single, cohabiting, domestic partnerships, civil unions)?

In three separate studies headed by the first three participants listed above, we examined same-sex partners' personal desire for and political support of same-sex marriage. We also explored what distinguishes same-sex partners who marry from LGBs in other relationship statuses (single, cohabiting, domestic partnerships, civil unions).

We found that 78 percent of female same-sex partners and 81 percent of male same-sex partners hope to marry. Furthermore, in multiple regressions (which included minority stress, social support, and relationship satisfaction as predictors), participants’ motivations to marry and their political support for marriage equality were most strongly predicted by current relationship satisfaction. Other data revealed better individual and couple functioning (e.g., less depression, greater relationship satisfaction, more clarity about relational agreements, more commitment) among married same-sex partners than among LGBs in other relationship statuses. Overall, same-sex partners who were married showed the same psychological advantages as their married heterosexual counterparts when compared to LGB and heterosexual individuals in other relationship statuses.

Although it may seem intuitively obvious to many of us in Division 44 that same-sex partners’ motivations for marriage would be similar to heterosexuals’ and that same-sex marriages would be associated with the same psychological benefits as heterosexual marriages, such information is still a revelation to many people in the U.S. and in other countries. Based on these research projects, we will be submitting articles for publication soon, and we hope the findings will help inform public opinion, judicial decisions and legislation concerning marriage equality for same-sex couples.