Online Program

For or against same-sex marriage and meanings ascribed to “family” among heterosexual adults

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 : 11:00 a.m. - 11:15 a.m.

Diana Romero, PhD, MA, Community Health and Social Sciences, City University of New York Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, New York, NY
Amy Kwan, MPH, Department of Community, Society and Health, The Graduate Center, CUNY School of Public Health, New York, NY
Background: The meaning and nature of intimate relationships is inextricably connected to attitudes about “family” and family-formation. We explore how heterosexual individuals' positions on same-sex marriage policies align (or not) with their definitions of “family,” prior to passage of the NYC Marriage Equality Act.

Methods: We used data from 200 in-depth interviews with a diverse sample of women and men in NYC and NJ. Interviews explored factors influencing family formation focusing on intimate relationships (dating, cohabitation, marriage) and childbearing. We asked: “If you were voting today on whether same-sex marriage should be legal, would you vote in support of or against it?” Additionally, we had individuals define “family.” The analysis centers on definitions of family vis-à-vis positions on same-sex marriage, including stratification by gender, race/ethnicity, income, and relationship status.

Results: The majority (78%) were in support of same-sex marriage. Sub-group analysis indicated those more likely to be opposed included men, African-American/Black, and married respondents; a larger proportion of Hispanics were unsure of their position. Respondents' definition of family suggests three themes: general notions of family values, or what one “gets from or does for” family; “goals” or importance of family formation based on ideals or reality; and, composition of family (ie, who “counts”). We further explore the extent to which these themes align with language used to describe same-sex marriage viewpoints.

Conclusions: Greater knowledge of contemporary definitions of “family” and political stances on marriage across sexual orientations and identities will inform a deeper understanding of family formation in this country.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe positions on same-sex marriage via-à-vis definitions of "family," among a diverse sample of young adult heterosexual men and women in NYC and NJ. Compare how young women and men of differing sociodemographic and racial/ethnic backgrounds define “family.” Assess the relative importance of gender, race/ethnicity, income, and relationship status on influencing attitudes about “family” and same-sex marriage.

Keyword(s): Partnerships, Policy/Policy Development

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to be an abstract Author on the content I am responsible for because I am the Principal Investigator of this research project. My research interests and expertise are on issues around domestic reproductive-health and poverty policy; factors influencing fertility and family-formation decision-making; and, Latino health issues.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.