The mystery of gays and marriage

LGBT, Relationships, Rights

As the reality of nationwide gay marriage and the legal ramifications of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision for Americans sinks in, members of the lesbian, gay and bisexual (LBG) community—and everybody else—are processing what it means.

An abundance of research exists regarding how opinions and attitudes toward marriage have developed over time between heterosexual couples. However, while the LGB community has welcomed the ruling as well as the societal acceptance and hard-fought civil rights that come with it, exactly how the institution will be incorporated into gay relationships is still somewhat of a mystery. Will they fully embrace it as a benefit in their lives? Or will their experience validate the oft-repeated joke: “Gay marriage? Haven’t those people suffered enough?”

In May 2015, Avvo worked with renowned relationship expert and sexologist Dr. Pepper Schwartz on a national survey designed to examine attitudes and behaviors around relationships, marriage, and divorce, and to better understand experiences of individuals who may engage with the legal system. As part of this survey, information was collected on how lesbians, gays and bisexuals view relationships and the role of marriage in their lives.

The below charts, comparing the differences between how heterosexual couples and LGBs think about love and marriage, carry extra significance because the data used to create them was collected right before the Supreme Court’s ruling. This data is now important from a historical perspective, acting as a baseline for how attitudes will almost surely evolve among both LGB’s and heterosexuals in America. Avvo will continue studying these attitudes to see what shifts occur as the nation wrestles with a new legal reality, and as many LGBs embrace what is, for many of them, a new option in their lives and how they connect with each other.

Not all Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals (LGBs) supported the legalization of gay marriage…

Though a large majority of LGB’s supported the legalization of gay marriage, almost one-fifth were neutral or not supportive:


…but then marriage may not be a primary life goal for many LGBs.

Half of LGBs disagreed with the notion that marriage should be a goal in life, compared to about one-third of heterosexuals:

marriage_life_goal_LGB_sizedAlso, marriage as an institution may not be as important.

More LGBs than heterosexuals were likely to believe that marriage is an outdated institution:

marriage_as_institution_sizedIt may also be the case that LGBs are more comfortable being independent…

More LGBs than heterosexuals reported they’d rather be alone and happy than in a relationship that isn’t fulfilling:

LGB_independence_sized…but this doesn’t mean LGBs are less likely to believe in love.

LGBs and heterosexuals were similar in their beliefs that relationships are meant to last:


Most LBGs did not equate formal marriage with love

Finally, two-thirds of LGBs said that they didn’t need a legal document to prove they loved their partner; this is a significantly larger proportion that the 50% of heterosexuals who said the same. Now that gay marriage is legal, will the difference in those percentages be as large this time next year?


Read the full Avvo Relationship Study