Same-Sex Relationship Behaviors: A Comparative Analysis of Those in Marriages and Relationships
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This study examines the legitimization of relationship status and its impact on risky behavior and stigma in same-sex couples. Using recent national data (N = 153), behaviors of those in same-sex committed relationships are compared to the behaviors of those in legally recognized same-sex marriages. There is little research done on the differences in behavior between those in same-sex marriages and those in same-sex relationships. This is a topic of sociological interest as it has long been believed that the institution of marriage confers several protections that increase the health, both mental and physical, for married individuals and that sexual stigma, when internalized, can impact behavior. It has yet to be determined if these marriage protections apply to those in non-heterosexual marriages and how stigma is related to marital status for same-sex couples. Results show that those in same-sex marriages are less likely to engage in certain risky health behaviors such as binge drinking. Those in legal same-sex marriages experience lower levels of stigma across all life stages than those that are not married, though experiences of stigma are significantly high for both groups. A longitudinal study is suggested so that the behavior of newly married gay men, lesbians and bisexuals can be studied over the course of their same-sex marriages.