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J Fam Issues. 2009 Jun 1;30(6):738-756.

Commitment Without Marriage: Union Formation Among Long-Term Same-Sex Couples.

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  • 1The University of Texas at Austin.

Abstract

The majority of Americans will marry in their lifetimes, and for many, marriage symbolizes the transition into long-term commitment. However, many Americans cannot legally marry. This article analyzes in-depth interviews with gays and lesbians in long-term partnerships to examine union formation and commitment-making histories. Using a life course perspective that emphasizes historical and biographical contexts, the authors examine how couples conceptualize and form committed relationships despite being denied the right to marry. Although previous studies suggest that commitment ceremonies are a way to form same-sex unions, this study finds that because of their unique social, historical, and biographical relationship to marriage and ceremonies, long-term same-sex couples do not follow normative commitment-making trajectories. Instead, relationships can transition more ambiguously to committed formations without marriage, public ceremony, clear-cut act, or decision. Such an understanding of commitment making outside of marriage has implications for theorizing alternative forms of union making.

PMID:
21814298
[PubMed]
PMCID:
PMC3148103
Free PMC Article
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