Faculty Publications

Document Type


Publication Date

January 2020

Publication Title

Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity




sexual minority women, gender nonbinary, transgender, marriage legalization


Gender and Sexuality | Law and Gender | Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies


This mixed-methods study explored perceptions of the impact of marriage legalization in all U.S.states among sexual minority women and gender diverse individuals. Survey data were collectedfrom a nonprobability sample of individuals 18 years or older who identified as lesbian, bisexual,queer, same-sex attracted or something other than exclusively heterosexual—as well asindividuals who identified as transgender or gender nonbinary (for example, genderqueer, transwoman, trans man, nonbinary, or gender non-conforming). The analytic sample included 418participants in an online survey who responded to open-ended questions about the perceivedimpact of marriage legalization. Qualitative analyses revealed perceptions of marriagelegalization that situated individual meanings in the context of broader political and socialfactors. Four themes represented the complex perceptions of participants about marriagelegalization: 1) establishing a victory in civil rights, social inclusion, and acceptance; 2) creatinga paradox between positives of legalization and limitations of marriage as an institution; 3)amplifying concerns for unaddressed safety and rights issues; and 4) contributing to the erosionof queer identity and community. Quantitative analyses revealed several differences bydemographic characteristics, such as greater concern about the erosion of community amongunmarried participants compared to participants who were married. Findings underscore theimportance of policies that advance equality for sexual and gender minorities (SGMs), as well asthe importance of research exploring how policies are perceived by and impact SGMsubpopulations.Abstract 2 – Short statement of Significance:Legalization of marriage for same-sex couples in the United States was generally perceived bysexual and gender minorities (SGM) as a civil rights victory and marker of increased socialinclusion and acceptance. At the same time, findings underscore remaining concerns such asinconsistent policy protections against discrimination, structural stigma and stigma from familyand extended networks, and how centralizing marriage may undermine SGM communityconnectedness and appreciation for diverse relationship structures.


© 2020, American Psychological Association. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the final, authoritative version of the article. Please do not copy or cite without authors' permission. The final article will be available, upon publication, via its DOI: 10.1037/sgd0000375