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Morgan Centre for Research into Everyday Lives

Gay marriage

1 November 2003 to 30 July 2006

Core research findings

  • Couples in our study were divided on whether it was preferable to have a special category of Civil Partnership or whether the existing legal form of marriage should be expanded to include same-sex couples
  • It was very important to the majority of our participants to involve their parents or other close kin in their commitment ceremonies
  • All the couples also invited friends (except two couples who held an entirely private ceremony)
  • It was often difficult for couples to mix their families of origin with friends, but they worked hard to sustain relationships even in the face of difficulties
  • Couples were aware they could be criticised for adopting the values of heterosexual couples, but this concern was outweighed by a desire to celebrate their commitment to each other
  • Few couples met with hostility but some found that either friends or family could be reserved in their enthusiasm about ceremonies or planned civil partnerships when told of the event
  • Couples welcomed the legal protections that civil partnership would provide, but 80% had already made wills to safeguard their partner in the event of death
  • New forms of kinship may be developing as same-sex partners are embraced by family as sons - rather than sons-in-law - or as sisters - rather than sisters-in-law.

Complete research findings.

Printed copies of these findings (or a large print version) are available from morgancentre@manchester.ac.uk.

Publications

'"It's made a huge difference": Recognition, Rights and the Personal Significance of Civil Partnership', Shipman, B, and Smart, C, Sociological Research Online (2007) 12 (1).  View article online.

Press articles and interviews

'Parental cloud over a gay day', Geary, J. The Birmingham Post, August 2006.

'6,500 couples opt for civil partnerships but ceremony creates new problems', Muir, H, The Guardian, 8 August 2006 (PDF opens in new window). Or view article online.

'Happy Ever After', Smart, C, New Humanist, July/August 2006. PDF (308KB), file opens in a new window.

'Unhappy Couples', Gilliver, A and Quirke, J, Pink Paper, 910, 5 October 2006. PDF (153KB), file open in a new window. 

Also reported in 'Families show acceptance of gay marriage', Manchester Evening News, 4 August 2006.

Research team

Carol Smart, Jennifer Mason and Beccy Shipman.

For enquiries about this project, please contact Carol Smart on 0161 275 0262 or email carol.smart@manchester.ac.uk

Funding

This project was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (Ref: R000-23-0418).