In this paper we present the framework, design, and methods of a new study designed to explore how lesbian and gay couples in Massachusetts, including families with children, have experienced the legalization of same-sex marriage. According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health: Registry of Vital Records and Statistics, 5,994 same-sex couples were married in Massachusetts in the year the court ruling was enacted (May 17th to December 31st, 2004). For our research study, we gathered data from 50 couples, both married and unmarried, in committed relationships within this historic time. While much has been written about the political maelstrom surrounding the court decision, there has been little scientific investigation into its potential impact on individual and family relationship processes. As part of a group of papers prepared to present preliminary findings, this one is focused specifically on quantitative description of the sample from data gathered in the form of a short questionnaire and a qualitative analysis of interviewees' responses to questions about the effect of the legalization of marriage in Massachusetts. Newly married couples reported that the legal ceremony granted their relationship legitimacy, benefits, and protection, albeit limited to the state of Massachusetts. Unmarried couples in committed relationships remarked on changes for the LGBT community, as the marriage movement brings individuals more into the mainstream while also exposing them as vulnerable targets for homophobia. Whether or not they decided to marry, participants agreed that the legalization of same-sex marriage is an important civil right.
Project: Exploratory Study of Same-Sex Marriage