DOMA may have fallen and my associate editor Eve Vawter may have spent the entire day tweeting wedding registries but hold up there on those normative assumptions. Not all LGBTQ couples want to embrace the institution of marriage. Seriously, we need a study to confirm this?
USA Today reports that “there’s a difference between wanting a right and taking the step.” You don’t say? And according to “experts” in the field of same-sex research, queer people – much like straight people — vary on their views of marriage. SHOCKING:
“Based on our findings, my observation is that LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people strongly support the principle of marriage equality, and for the most part they think it is a proper focus for the LGBT rights movement. But at the level of personal experience and desires, they are more ambivalent,” [sociologist Kathleen Hull of the University of Minnesota] says.
“Some gays and lesbians clearly want to get married, but others are unsure or reject marriage for themselves. And many LGBT people seem to have mixed views on whether marriage is a good model for same-sex relationships,” she says.
Consitencies were reportedly noted across multiple research efforts, including those by Mary Bernstein, a sociology professor at the University of Connecticut, and a Pew research survey:
Data from an online survey released by Pew earlier this month show that of a nationally representative sample of 1,197 LGBT respondents, 60% are currently married or would like to get married, compared with 76% of adults (both heterosexual and homosexual) in the general population. Of the unmarried LGBT respondents, 52% say they would like to marry in the future; 33% were unsure and 15% said they do not want to marry.
Bernstein hypothesizes that marriage may be in and trendy now among LGBTQ folks, especially couples who have been partnered for a long time. But after awhile, she theorizes that the numbers of marrying same-sex couples will “level off and begin to resemble the numbers in the heterosexual population.” As in, on the decline.
Hull says that her research mirrors the same mixed bag of queer marriage enthusiasts vs. uninterested parties. Their reasons? You’ve heard it all before:
“We asked people whether they thought marriage was a good relationship model for same-sex couples. About half were ambivalent, about a third said it was a good model, and less than a fifth said it was a bad model,” she says.
“Those who were ambivalent talked about marriage not being right for everybody or not being desired by everybody, about the fact that other relationship models can also work, that marriage is not necessary for happiness. Some said they just didn’t see the point of marriage, but if others want it, they should have that option.”
Bernstein says some same-sex couples who don’t want to marry cite other concerns.
“Part of the history of marriage has often disadvantaged women,” she says. “Part of it is the association of marriage with inequality toward women, even though most of the legal disadvantages have disappeared.”
According to data that has yet to be published, Bernstein asserts that more lady couples have married than men, primarily because as far as the numbers go, lesbians tend to want children more than gay men and therefore see marriage as a method by which “to protect their children.”
Bottom line: we’re celebrating a right for queer people, not impressing a hetero-normative model for what all relationships should be.