Same-sex marriage contributes to weakening LGBQ community, study finds | News | Notre-Dame news


In 2004, Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage. Eleven years later, the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide. Obtaining the right to marry has helped lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer (LGBQ) people feel included and accepted in society – but has also contributed to a weakening of the LGBQ community as a result, according to a new study from the University of Notre Dame.

Abigail Ocobock, assistant professor of sociology à Notre Dame, offers the first systemic look at the influence of marriage on the LGBQ community in a new paper published in the Journal of Marriage and Family.

Ocobock examined the relationship between marriage and community life for the new matrimonial population: same-sex couples. According to Ocobock, the dominant framework of marriage in family sociology is that it is a “greedy institution”. “The idea is that marriage takes a lot of time, energy and commitment, and leaves little room for others or active community involvement,” she said. “As such, many predicted that same-sex marriage would weaken the vibrancy of LGBQ community life.”

However, his findings show that it was not the marriage itself that contributed to a sense of weakening in the LGBQ community, but rather simply the legal right to marry. Ocobock interviewed and interviewed 116 married and unmarried LGBQ people in Massachusetts for this study. Almost all, she said, explained how marital access reduced the “need” for an organized LGBQ community.

“Although marital status – getting married and being married – makes little difference, I find that access to marriage – access to legal marriage – plays a central role in changes in LGBQ community life,” said said Ocobock. “Whether or not one got married, obtaining the right to legally marry was largely associated with feelings of broader social inclusion and acceptance.

“It decreased the need for LGBQ people to have an organized LGBQ community because the more secure and welcome they felt in other settings, the less they felt the need to participate in LGBQ communities – and the less there was. demand for organized LGBQ community activities, less, over time, there was to participate.

Ocobock also found that same-sex marriages are less “greedy” than heterosexual marriages.

“On average, same-sex couples have been together longer before they get married, which means they’re already engaged and have established relationship routines. As such, being married is not experienced as a qualitatively different type of relationship requiring more time, energy, or commitment. Same-sex married couples are also much less likely to have children, which also makes their marriages less demanding, ”she said.

Examining a group that only recently gained access to marriage is a good opportunity to examine the effects of marriage on community life, but those effects don’t necessarily translate into heterosexual marriages, Ocobock said.

“My results highlight some important differences between same-sex and heterosexual marriages that are important in understanding why marriage does not impact LGBQ community life in the same way as it does for heterosexuals. Largely because legal marriage only became accessible to many people later in life, same-sex couples have different relationships and life trajectories, ”she said.

“This idea is relevant, if not transferable, as it should remind family specialists to keep in mind that our current understandings of marriage are based on a heteronormative life trajectory which assumes that people marry quite young and have children. That said, now that legal marriage is available, the next generation of same-sex couples to marry may look more like those of the opposite sex. “

Contact: Abigail Ocobock,

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