141st APHA Annual Meeting

In This section

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

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 : 11:00 AM - 11:15 AM

Diana Romero, PhD, MA , Urban Health Program, City University of New York School of Public Health at Hunter College, 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.

Keywords: 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.