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Gay couples face new pressure to marry, conform to societal norms

DH Vancouver Staff Jan 27, 2016 11:44 am

With the legalization of same-sex marriage came a new problem for LGBTQ couples – they’re feeling pressure to pop the question, according to a new study from UBC.

With same-sex marriage having been outlawed for so many years, gay couples largely developed relationship models that didn’t conform to societal norms, reads the study. Now that it’s legal, some same-sex couples feel the need to obey the status quo.


A lot of participants came of age when coming out meant letting go of access to marriage,” said study co-author Katherine Lyon. “On a legal level, same-sex marriage is essential. But socially, when you get access to a new rite or institution like marriage, it can change how people think about themselves and their relationship. ”

Part of the reason gay couples might be feeling pressure to get hitched is to legitimize their relationships, especially when facing prejudice. Even as an increasing number of couples of all kinds are living together before marriage, this shows marriage remains the relationship standard in Canada, according to the study.

“It was surprising how prominent marriage became in participants’ lives,” said Lyon. “Suddenly more people wanted to talk to them about their relationship and getting married.”

Some participants say they are making an active choice not to marry, as they don’t agree with the institution.

Twenty-two people in same-sex common law relationships were interviewed by researchers from UBC’s Department of Sociology.

DH Vancouver Staff
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