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Marriage, Registration and Dissolution by Same-Sex Couples in the U.S.

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Publication Date: June 2008

Author(s): Gary J. Gates; M.V. Lee Badgett; Deborah Ho

Funder(s): Merrill Lynch Co. Foundation

Funder(s): Merrill Lynch Co. Foundation

Topic: Social conditions (Marriage and family life)

Keywords: marriage; domestic partnership; gay; sexual orientation

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


This study analyzes data from states that have extended legal recognition to same-sex couples. Analyses show that same-sex couples want and use these new legal statuses. Furthermore, they react more enthusiastically when marriage is possible. More than 40% of same-sex couples have formed legal unions in states where such recognition is available. Same-sex couples prefer marriage over civil unions or domestic partnerships. In the first year that marriage was offered in Massachusetts, 37% of same-sex couples there married. In states that offered civil unions, only 12% of same-sex couples took advantage of this status in the first year and only 10% did so in states with domestic partnership registries.