Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Gay couples-California-Attitudes, Unmarried couples-California-Attitudes, Same-sex marriage-California, Marriage, Commitment, Unmarried, California, Proposition 8, Marriage equality


This exploratory study reveals the narratives of long-term, committed same-sex couples living in the Bay area of California, who decided not to marry in 2008 when it was temporarily legal. Thirteen participants were interviewed and their responses were transcribed and analyzed. They were asked to explain personal, social, and political influences on their perspectives on marriage. They were also asked to define commitment and the commitment markers used in their relationships. Lastly, they were questioned about their relationship with the current marriage equality movement. Findings revealed that participants refrained from marrying due to negative associations they have developed toward the institution of marriage throughout their lives in addition to ways they define themselves as "outsiders." They highlighted the history of the marriage institution as one that established patriarchy and ownership. Many participants reflected that the marriages of their parents illustrated models of commitment they did not want to replicate. Lack of connection with the gendered roles associated with marriage was also discussed as a deterrent. Participants recognized the movements of the 1960s and 1970s as significant influences on their freedom to establish norms and roles in their relationships. The ways their relationships and styles of commitment differ from and resemble marriages are discussed. Given their perspective, participants describe the impact legalized same-sex marriage may have on the LGBT community.




iii, 98 p. : col. ill. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2010. Includes bibliographical references (p. 84-86)