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Equal level of commitment and relationship satisfaction found among gay and heterosexual couples
Date:1/21/2008

in civil unions. This may be because those couples in Vermont who sought out the legal protection of a civil union might have legalized their relationship more for symbolic value than for commitment reasons, which did not affect their day-to-day interactions, said lead author Kimberly F. Balsam, PhD.

However, the same sex-couples who were not in civil unions were more likely to have ended their relationships compared to those couples in same-sex civil unions or heterosexual marriages. This suggests that the protections afforded by a legalized relationship may impact same-sex relationships, something the studys authors plan to follow up on in future research, said Balsam.

The findings also showed that same-sex couples, regardless of civil union status, were more satisfied with their relationships compared to married heterosexual couples. Same-sex couples reported more positive feelings toward their partners and less conflict than heterosexual married couples, said the authors. They theorized that there may be societal pressures and norms, as well as the presence of legal status as a couple, which may contribute to heterosexual couples staying together even when they are not happy. Alternatively, most long-term same-sex couples have to stay together by their own will and hard work since they dont have societys forces on their side, Balsam added.

This was the first study to follow same-sex couples in legalized unions over a period of time. This type of design allows the researchers to monitor changes in the relationships and compare them with changes experienced by both same-sex couples not in civil unions and heterosexual couples. All the couples were comparable with respect to race/ethnicity and age at the time of the study.


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Contact: Pam Willenz
pwillenz@apa.org
202-336-5707
American Psychological Association
Source:Eurekalert

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