The significance of marriage—socially, politically, and symbolically—in American society cannot be overemphasized. Marriage binds individuals to one another and other social institutions, most obviously families and the state. It entails not only social and emotional attachments, but also legal obligations and access to privileges. Historically, marriage has meant heterosexual marriage and has been overwhelmingly studied as such. However, in June 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court rendered its decision in favor of marriage equality (Obergefell v. Hodges), prompting the legalization of marriage between same-sex couples across the US. The push for same-sex marriage and marriage equality is quite new, with most major gains made in the past ten years. As such, same-sex couples have largely been left out of the literature and research on marriage. This project seeks to change that. 

This research project is our attempt to better understand how Americans think about marriage, particularly in a post-marriage equality era. It involves a national survey focused on attitudes toward marriage generally, marriage among same-sex couples, and marriage among three or more people. It also involves interviews conducted with LGBTQ folks about their feelings and experiences regarding marriage, relationships, and family. We have also expanded our study to include an international comparison of marriage equality across several countries.

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D’Lane Compton is Professor and Chair of Sociology at the University of New Orleans.
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Gayle Kaufman is Nancy and Erwin Maddrey Professor of Sociology and Gender & Sexuality Studies at Davidson College.

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