Same-Sex Marriages

Executive Summary

The public policy explored in this analysis will include section one from the family code titles, marriage relationship. This issue is more prevalent than most would imagine. In 1990 the American bureau of census reported 145,130 same-gender unmarried couples living together. That number is reported to have increased to 594,691 by the year 2000 (Pawelski et al., 2006). According to President Bush, it is up to the individual state to determine any “legal arrangements other than marriage”. This leaves the definition of marriage up to the individual governments.

It is essential to define the different unions as well as have a strong understanding of the implications of each within the state of Texas. According to Bogenschnider, Theory of Paradox consists of three camps that view issues from different angles. The concerned camp tends to be more conservative with their views on the family. It also strives to protect the traditional family values. The sanguine camp is more concerned with the welfare of the children, as well as the individual rights of people of all sexual orientations. The impatient camp seeks progress and respects all members of the community regardless of the concern for the traditional family values.

The concerned camp views same-sex marriage as an insult to the historical family unit and the foundations from which the family system was derived. This group is concerned with the research indicating that many stressors responsible for creating significant amount of anxiety and distress for those in the homosexual relationships. This camp is also concerned that regardless of their lifestyle homosexual individuals are still required to “conform” to traditional heterosexual family styles in order to adopt, regardless of the findings. (I don’t understand this sentence, regardless of what findings?) The teenagers facing their homosexual lifestyle were also found to be more at risk for negative behaviors, including substance abuse and suicide. The concerned camp desires to see the traditional family unit remain intact for the welfare of all individuals, especially the children.

The sanguine camp views recent family changes positively as indicators of the capacity of families to adapt to new environments rather than symptoms of decline. The sanguine camp considers the positive results of these family changes for individuals, especially women. The sanguine camp contends that children have the capacity to overcome the emotional upheaval and long term consequences of divorce. They tend to focus on people who have thrived in the midst of family change.

The sanguine camp regards marriage, commitment and nurturance as unchanging core American values no matter what. Contenders of this view declare that the dramatic changes in the last quarter century were not about family value but about norms and standards regarding appropriate or inappropriate behavior. For example, cohabitation before marriage became common and one of four children born outside of marriage but majority still want to be married. Regarding policy-making, the greatest concern for the sanguine camp is individual freedom. They want to keep the American core values and establish the institutional supports to help families during rapid changes.

The impatient camp acknowledges the change and growth in the diversity of alternative families and their structure. Qualitative research is respected and much of the evidence regarding children's behavioral and cognitive outcomes incorporates teacher responses along with parent responses. The research supports the changes towards same-sex marriage and welcomes significant positive research findings that support their cause. This camp suggests that families do face challenges, but ultimately have numerous opportunities to demonstrate their resilience though this alternative lifestyle.

The recognition of same-sex marriages would alleviate significant amount of stress from those families who are a part of a homosexual partnership. The recognition of this partnership would allow for society to also recognize the partnership leading to a more accepted perspective. The children in these families, as demonstrated by the research results, remain near the average mark in development. However, they continue to have difficulty comprehending and accepting the lifestyle affecting their emotional and social developments. State of Texas can alleviate this stress for these individuals by recognizing these same-sex marriages and providing the same right to homosexual couples that it safeguards for heterosexual individuals. Providing this recognition will allow for all families in the state of Texas to have the same resources, rights, and privileges creating a stronger, more united state, community, and families.

Public Policy Project: Same-sex Marriages

The public policy explored in this analysis will include section one from the family code titles, marriage relationship. This issue is more prevalent than most would imagine. In 1990 the American bureau of census reported 145,130 same-gender unmarried couples living together . That number is reported to have increased to 594,691 by the year 2000 (Pawelski et al., 2006). According to President Bush, it is up to the individual state to determine any “legal arrangements other than marriage”. This leaves the definition of marriage up to the individual governments. It is essential to define the different unions as well as have a strong understanding of the implications of each within the state of Texas (question 1).

A civil union is a legal mechanism, sanctioned by civil authority, intended to grant same-sex couples legal status somewhat similar to civil marriage. In the United States, civil unions have been established only in Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. In theses tates, same-sex couples are granted the same state-level rights, benefits, and protections as those granted to heterosexual married couples. No other states recognize civil unions. As such, same-sex couples considered to be legally united in either of those states are treated as single individuals when they cross into other states.

A domestic partnership is a relationship between two individuals, often but not necessarily of the same gender, who live together and mutually support one another as spouses but who are not legally joined in a civil marriage or a civil union. Some same-sex couples enter into domestic partnership agreements to create legally enforceable contracts involving property, finances, inheritance, and/or health care. Domestic partnerships do not reach the same legal threshold as civil unions or civil marriages and, accordingly, do not afford couples the rights, benefits,and protections of civil marriage (Pawelski et al., 2006).

The definitions are helpful but in the state of Texas any same-sex unions/marriages are banned. Protecting the sanctity of life and marriage at the 79th Texas state Congress 2005, Texans voted on a constitutional amendment defining marriage in fall of 2005. SJR 6 defines marriage as between one man and one woman. Texas voters adopted this amendment on November 8, 2005. Texas now joins 14 states that statutorily and constitutionally ban same-sex marriage. Significant research has been conducted on this topic from many perspectives. It is essential to understand the effect of same-sex relationships on the family system and the individuals within that system.

It is very difficult for those in a same-sex relationship to cope with the stigma that society has placed on these relationships. Same-sex relationships have many of the same characteristics that heterosexual relationships possess. According to the research of Todosijevic, Rothblum, & Solomon (2005) there are many factors contributing to the success of the same-sex relationship. Given the mixed results on demographic similarity and relationship satisfaction among same-sex couples, it is possible that couple similarity in level of outness may be more important for relationship satisfaction than couple similarity on demographic variables. For example, similarity on actual age (a demographic variable) may be less important than developmental stage in the coming out process (including level of disclosure to others).

Couples who are discrepant on outness may have conflict around such issues as where to live (e.g., in an obvious gay neighborhood), whether to bring a partner to work-related social events, and how to introduce their partner to family members. Beals and Peplau (2001) found that discrepancy in openness among partners was not predictive of relationship satisfaction. In another study on this topic, Jordan and Deluty (2000) investigated the correlation between openness and relationship quality in 305 lesbians in committed relationships. Their results indicated that the degree of openness regarding sexual orientation was positively correlated with relationship satisfaction.

They also concluded that discrepancy in openness in disclosure between partners was negatively correlated with relationship satisfaction. In addition, Jordan and Deluty (2000) discovered that negative affectivity (e.g., depression, anxiety, fear, anger, guilt, sadness, neuroticism) was not significantly correlated to relationship satisfaction. While, in a 45-year-long study of marital stability and marital satisfaction in 300 heterosexual couples, Kelly and Conely (1987) found that negative affectivity in both genders was negatively related to relationship satisfaction. This demonstrates the significance of same-sex relationships and how they appear much healthier than those of heterosexual partners.

It is important that same-sex couples experience satisfaction in their relationships, but also find acceptance within the homosexual community. They experience a significant amount of distress from outside of the homosexual community. As a result they rely heavily on their peers to provide support. The gay lifestyle is a stressful lifestyle. In a study by Todosijevic, Rothblum, and Solomon (2005), gay couples reported experiencing a significant level of anxiety regarding contraction of HIV/AIDS. Further, gay and lesbian couples indicated facing stress from their families due to disapproval of the lifestyle such as “rejection, lack of support, and lack of understanding by the family due to their sexuality” (p. 165.)

In their study of two hundred adolescents and early adult lesbians, Cantor and Neulinger (2000) reported that 47.5% of the interviewees disclosed having made some attempts at suicide at some point in their life. Thirty one percent of these lesbian adolescents and young adults who reported suicide attempts contributed it, at least partially, to their sexual orientation. Furthermore, in high school age males, 36% of the homosexual students surveyed reported having made a suicide attempt at some point in their life compared to 8.9% of their heterosexual counterparts (where is this information coming from?). Data such as this indicates the moral dilemma for the homosexual community, which creates unnecessary stress for homosexual individuals and their families.

There are many milestones in life that homosexual individuals have a more difficult time achieving. Society paints a particular picture within which individuals are anticipated to fit snugly. Society expects homosexuals to conform to the norms that it has diligently created over the course of the history. A study was done recently that examined how the courts evaluate same-sex couples when they are attempting to adopt children (Connolly, 1998). The researchers found that the courts expect same-sex couples to conform as best possible to the traditional model of families. Since these couples are not allowed to marry, they are expected to demonstrate their commitment to each other in ways that heterosexual couples do not have to exhibit. Homosexual couples must realize that their demonstration of commitment must be more pronounced than heterosexual couples. They must also work to overcome their persuasion into the model in which the rest of society fits.

As more and more same-sex couples are adopting or having children through artificial insemination, concerns regarding the integrity of family structure and developmental outcomes of children in these alternative families are brought to discussion. Golombok, et al. (2003) examined the quality of parent-child relationships, socioemotional and gender development in a community sample of lesbian parents with seven-year olds, and had a control group of heterosexual two-parent families. Demographics of both the lesbian and heterosexual families were similar. There were no statistically significant differences in mother-child relationships with regard to warmth toward child or emotional involvement.

Family structure, not mother's sexual orientation, showed significant effects for overall parenting quality and enjoyment of motherhood. There were also no statistically significant differences in the frequency of conflicts with the child. Family structure, with single mothers, having more severe disputes (It seems like this sentence is missing something). Lesbian mothers also reported smacking their children less than heterosexual mothers. Lesbian mothers also engaged in more imaginative play with their children than heterosexual mothers, as single mothers did more often than heterosexual mothers.

Fathers showed statistically significant higher levels of emotional involvement and frequency of smacking with their children than co-mothers. Socioemotional development showed no statistically significant difference in conduct problems, hyperactivity, emotional symptoms or positive social behavior as reported by mothers and teachers. The study also showed no differences in children’s behavior according to gender when comparing boys and girls in both heterosexual and lesbian families (Golombok, et al., 2003).

Flaks, Ficher, Masterpasqua, & Josephs (1995) compared lesbian couples with heterosexual parents and their children, ages three to nine. Their study found that sexual orientation of custodial parents is not a significant variable in successful development of the child and that there were no differences in children coming from divorced heterosexual or same-sex parent families. The purpose of their study was to address concerns of the courts when involved in custody cases. They showed no significant differences with parents' sexual orientation or gender of child in outcomes of cognitive development or behavioral adjustment. The study did find that lesbian parents had more parenting awareness skills than heterosexual parents; this was statistically significant. This finding, with further statistical analysis, was shown to be related to gender, with mothers having better parenting skills than fathers.

Wainright, Russell, & Patterson (2004) examined family type - heterosexual parents and same-sex parents, and outcomes in school, psychological adjustment and romantic relationships. Romantic relationships and sexual behavior was not associated with family type. The quality of the parent-child relationship determined better school adjustment. Anderssen, Amlie, & Ytteroy (2002) reviewed twenty-three evidenced-based research studies from 1978 to 2000, assessing outcomes for children with lesbian or gay parents. Historically, the Scandanavian courts have not ruled against custody related to sexual orientation of the parent.

However, evidenced based research regarding outcomes of children of same-sex parents is needed, since legal rights to adopt or become foster parents is not afforded to same-sex couples as they are to heterosexual couple. Emotional functioning was the outcome most often studied, followed by sexual preference, stigmatization, gender role behavior, behavioral adjustment, gender identity and cognitive functioning. No differences in emotional functioning were shown between same-sex (lesbian) parents and heterosexual parents.

There were no differences in sexual preferences in offspring with parental sexual preference. Due to expressed negative attitudes which was received from outsiders, children of same-sex parents experienced stigmatization and teasing. The studies showed that few youngsters were teased no more than other children, and they developed stable relationships with peers as children of heterosexual parents (who said this?). There were no differences in gender role behavior, behavioral adjustment, and cognitive functioning.

This significant research shows that the homosexual community faces difficult boundaries, restrictions, and stereotypes, but this community still manages to maintain relationships, raise their children, and live out daily life with less negative outcomes than heterosexual individuals. This leads into the Theory of Paradox with three stances on the subject of same-sex marriages showing negative and positive conclusions (question 6).

Striving to protect the traditional family values, the concerned camp tends to be more conservative with their views on the family. The sanguine camp is more concerned with the welfare of the children, as well as the individual rights of people of all sexual orientations. The impatient camp seeks progress and respects all members of the community regardless of the concern for traditional family values.

The concerned camp views same-sex marriage as an insult to the historical family unit and the foundations from which the family system was derived. The research indicates many stressors that are responsible for creating significant amount of anxiety, distress, and other negative reactions for those in the homosexual community. The research indicated that regardless of the homosexual lifestyle these individuals are still required to “conform” to traditional heterosexual family styles in order to adopt, regardless of the findings (This sentence is not clear. Regardless of what findings? Are there findings contrary to the outcome of court decisions on qualification of homosexual parents to adopt?). The teenagers living a homosexual lifestyle were also found to be more at risk for negative behaviors, including suicide. The concerned camp desires to see the traditional family unit remain intact for the welfare of all individuals, especially the children.

The sanguine camp views recent family changes positively as indicators of the capacity of families to adapt to new environments rather than symptoms of decline. The sanguine camp concerns the positive results of these family changes for individuals, especially women. The sanguine argue that children have the capacity to overcome the emotional upheaval and long term consequences of divorce. The contenders of this view tend to focus on people who have thrived in the midst of family change.

The sanguine camp believes marriage, commitment and nurturance to be unchanging core American values no matter what. According to the sanguine, the dramatic change in the last quarter century was not about family value but about norms and standards regarding appropriate or inappropriate behavior. For example, cohabitation before marriage has become common and one of four children is born outside of marriage but majority still want to be married. Regarding policy-making, the greatest concern for the sanguine camp is individual freedom. They want to keep the American core values and establish the institutional supports to help families through rapid changes.

The impatient camp acknowledges the change and growth in the diversity of alternative families and their structure. Qualitative research is respected and much of the evidence regarding children's behavioral and cognitive outcomes incorporates teacher responses along with parent responses. The research supports changes towards same-sex marriage and welcomes significant positive research findings to support their cause. This camp finds that families do face challenges, but ultimately have numerous opportunities to demonstrate their resilience through this alternative lifestyle (question 7).

The families affected most by the failure to recognize same-sex marriages are those homosexual couples who have children. The family members of homosexual couples are also affected by the stereotypes that are involved with the homosexual lifestyle. Principle one addresses the question of if policies or programs set unrealistic expectations for families assuming financial and caregiving responsibilities of dependent, seriously ill or child with special needs. Principle two addresses family stability and explains that policies and programs should help maintain the stability of couples' relationships, especially when children are involved (Bogenschneider, 2002).

When looking at the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) from the perspective of a homosexual family, it does allow for incentives to marry in the state that recognizes homosexual marriages. With the current statue of DOMA, children may not have continued financial support from one of the parents if the homosexual parents separate (NCRF, 2004). Massachusetts legalization of same-sex marriage allows for the children of these families to have some financial security if their parents should divorce or if one of the parents were to die. The issue with the DOMA policy is that it does not allow for financial protection to non-biological children of same-sex relationships (Coolidge & Duncan, 2001).

Carlson (2004) found that DOMA actually protects the sanctity of heterosexual marriages by not allowing homosexuals to marry legally. The justification here is that homosexual relationships are sterile and that the children from these relationships will not have any kinship to, at a minimum, one of the parents and it could possibly be both of the parents. Carlson (2004) also found that marriage is an evolution in itself (questions 2-3).

  • Question 4: Examine the Implementation of the Policy and Statute (p. 307) – how has the Department implemented this policy? How has subsequent legislation (if any) revised this policy? Note: This flows right into question 5 below.
  • Question 5: Go to page 306 and answer question #1 (Family Impact Questions): Reviewing rules, legislation, and laws to point out how legislation does or does not address families’ needs.

The goal of the previous research and the comprehension of the policy is to allow the policy holders to see the detrimental results that have occurred as a result of the failure to recognize same-sex marriages. Homosexual families are suffering as a result of the failure to acknowledge the relationships that are closest to them. Children, according to the research, are well adjusted and develop normally but they are not able to develop socially because of the limitations that are placed on them from being a part of a homosexual family system.. They encounter numerous roadblocks and challenges as a result. The systems that surround them are also aversely affected creating much distress for all individuals that come in contact with each member of the family.

The homosexual partners also experience significant distress as a result of the failure of the state of Texas to recognize any union between two individuals of the same sex. These individuals fight uphill battles daily with the simplest household activities, such as medical care/insurance, monetary matters, and significant custody concerns if children are involved. The recognition of same-sex marriages would allow these homosexual families to experience more acceptance and give them the opportunity to continue with normal, daily activities without hindrance (question 8).

The recognition of same-sex marriages would alleviate significant amounts of stress from those families who are a part of a homosexual partnership. The recognition of this partnership would allow for society to also recognize the partnership leading to a more accepted perspective. The children in these families, as demonstrated in the research results, remain near the average mark in development, but continue to have difficulty comprehending and accepting the lifestyle affecting their emotional and social developments. Texas can alleviate this stress for these individuals by recognizing these same-sex marriages and providing the same right to homosexual couples that is provided to heterosexual individuals. Providing this recognition will allow for all families in the state of Texas to have the same resources, rights, and privileges creating a stronger, more united state, community, and families.

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