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J Homosex. 2008;54(4):400-22. doi: 10.1080/00918360801991422.

Shall we marry? Legal marriage as a commitment event in same-sex relationships.

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This study is a part of an exploratory study of 50 married and unmarried same-sex couples in Massachusetts conducted by the Wellesley Centers for Women following legalization of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts in 2004. This article examines whether and how legalization of same-sex marriage impacted same-sex partners' commitment to one another, presentation to others as a couple, and treatment as a couple by others. Roughly one-quarter of the couples studied chose not to mark their commitment with ceremonies of any kind, while nearly three-fourths of the couples had either commitment (non-legal) ceremonies, legal weddings, or both. While decisions to legally marry largely were based on gaining legal protections, unforeseen impacts on self and relationships with family, friends, and the larger society revealed multiple layers of meaning. Implications of the study for public policy and social change are discussed.

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