QUESTION: Can Gays and Lesbians Save the Institution of Marriage?

same sex marriageIn The Atlantic article “The Gay Guide to Wedded Bliss,” writer Liza Mundy points to a growing swath of research that indicates that gay and lesbian married couples are more happy than their heterosexual counterparts, with some even going so far as to suggest that gays and lesbians are “making marriage sexy again.”  Through various studies, Mundy is able to pinpoint some very interesting facts about how gays and lesbians are approaching marriage.

Among some of the more intriguing findings are:

  • Gays and lesbians divide familial responsibilities more equally because of a lack of pre-existing gender norms and expectations about who does what.
  • Lesbians are almost twice as likely to get divorced than gay men.
  • Some countries in which same-sex unions have been legal for 10 years or more have seen a rise in marriage rates overall.
  • (Surprise, surprise) Straight women and lesbians are more monogamous than gay men. 14% of straight women and roughly 8% of partnered lesbians reported sex outside of their relationship, as opposed to 15% of straight husbands and  roughly 60% of gay men in partnerships and civil unions.

Though gays and lesbians are taking their unions seriously, not all is perfect in their marriages.  The studies found that about one third of gay male couples with children had one partner who is a “stay at home dad,” and sometimes these arrangements were fraught with feelings of a loss of status and prestige by the stay at home partner.  Also, in both gay and lesbian couples, the partner who makes the most money tended to take the lead on the major financial decisions of the family, which also led to tension in the marriage.

So the question is, Queerty readers, can gays and lesbians help save marriage?  By bucking outdated gender norms, becoming de facto activists just by entering into marriages with our partners, and re-writing the rules of those marriages once we put a ring on it, can we help stem the tide of divorce rates in America and prove to straights (and ourselves) that we can be in happy, loving relationships?

Or, are we just involved in a hopeless and ultimately futile push to emulate straight culture while roughly 60% of the gay male couples surveyed were open about getting sex outside of the relationship.  Are we ready to make the real commitment, or are we just caught up in marriage fever?

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  • ouragannyc

    I don’t think so.
    The divorce rate/lenght of marriage for gays and lesbians will be about the same for str8s.

  • miagoodguy

    Roughly 60% of gay men in civil unions have sex with someone other than their partner? Why do gay men want marriage again then? smh

  • ouragannyc

    I’m for marriage equality, even if I think that gay marriage won’t contribute to save the institution.
    60%? where did you find this percentage?

  • miagoodguy

    It’s in the article.

  • ouragannyc

    Thanks M.
    seems like I answered you w/o reading the whole article.
    Interesting that Lesbians were twice as likely to get a divorce than gay men but only 8% of partnered lesbians reported infidelity.
    MORE than 15% are not faithful.
    I guess the operative word in this article is “report”.

  • miagoodguy

    As usual, a gay man making excuses for gays in so called “committed” relationships that have an open marriage. Marriage means you only want to be with that person. An open marriage is an oxymoron. Don’t bother getting married if you aren’t truly in love with the person to be faithful

  • miagoodguy

    If you were truly committed to him, you wouldn’t have sex with anyone else. Open relationships is just people wanting to have their cake and eat it too.

  • miagoodguy

    I’m perfectly happy with my partner (totally faithful), with family that loves me, great friends, a job I love, and financially comfortable. Thanks for hoping I find hapiness though.

  • Pitou

    @miagoodguy: I’m sorry, but I do believe you have not been annointed the morality police.
    YOU are not to say that anyone’s open marriage is less than yours. That is your opinion, yet you state it as fact. I really don’t care how long you’ve been with your partner and how many men you haven’t had sex with outside that partnership, but the fact remains that what might work for you, may not necessarily be what works for all others.
    I’m not sure that you realize that even though we like to think that our marriages and relationships are not inherently different from a heterosexual union, they are. They’re VERY different indeed. A Gay couple seems better able to differentiate the physical needs from the emotional needs of their relationship. Sometimes the spontaneity and excitement of a different sexual partner works for a couple, and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes there are extrenuating ciscumstances that may not allow much satisfying physical interaction between the partners be it maybe different HIV status, or a difference in age, or the top had his prostate removed, or maybe they’re just bored with the routine of each other.. there are a whole wide range of reasons why a couple may seek sex outside their relationship. But it does NOT, at all, negate the emotional and financial commitment they have to one another. There is no rule to marriage that says the only person you may have sex with for the rest of your life is your husband, etc. I do believe the vows are: “To have and to hold, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, from this day forward,’till death do us part”. No where does that mention sex.

    So I say, as a 27 year old, never-married, single gay man, who has never been in an open relationship, ever, that you do not have any athority to demean anyone else’s relationship and commitment to their partner… whatever their terms are.
    That you do, only goes to show your own lack of understanding and tolerance of other peoples lives.. which I’m sure you play victim to when an intolerant bigot wants to do the same thing to you and demean your very existance. Shame on you.

  • miagoodguy

    Sorry, but I never play victim to anyone. Never have and never will. Nice Try though in excusing bad behavior.

  • Pitou

    @WranglerID: He does seem a bit angry, frustrated and repressed. He seems to live his life based on victorian era idiological values, rather then living in 21st century reality. Its unfortunate too, because I’m sure there are many people NOT a part of his life due to exactly that. Last person anyone really needs is the Morality-Police.
    In stead of attempting to rebut any single thing I’ve said except the part about playing a victim, he continues with his brand of nonsense.
    @miagoodguy: You should come out from your rock with an open mind, but I fear a lonely and miserable old age is in store for you. I hear there’s quite a bit of neglect and mistreatment in nursing homes.

  • ouragannyc


  • miagoodguy

    lol People making up stuff that they know who i am. Funny

  • Windsor519

    For us to even see if gays can save marriage, we’d have to be interested in each other first! Hardly any gay men have any interest in each other to even message or speak; it’s nearly impossible to find ‘dates’ now that social activity has all moved online, allowing us to project our unrealistic expectations of perfection and setting up filters so we only speak to those worthy of our time; because the majority of us missed out on normal emotional development between 13-25 we also missed out on how to date, how to ask someone out, how to make mistakes and simultaneously learn from them, instead we are trying to do this 15-20 years later and it’s just too late.

    Most of us missed out on really important years of relationship building, and I am not seeing the proof that you can learn this many years later after you form your shell and your personality where you’re gonna do whatever you want anyway. We are too independent and expect way too much out of one another. We set ourselves up for failure because we expect standards that either we ourselves can’t meet, or they’re purely physical and self-serving, and bound to bring disappointment or boredom when the newness wears off. Go through this a few times and you end up with metro areas of gay men who want absolutely nothing to do with each other…they look at images of straight, college athletes taking their clothes off and expect that the next gay men they meet is going to look like that. Meanwhile, no thoughts to marriage or a future in any relationships are considered because we simply use each other until we get bored or ‘someone better’ comes along.

  • Tackle

    Absolutely not. Gays and Lesbians cannot save marriage. No ones “sexual” orentation can save or break the institution of marriage.

  • Niall

    Gays and lesbians(especially gays) save marriage? About as likely as the kardashians saving television.

  • GayTampaCowboy

    WOW! Heated comments all over the place on this article! That’s a GOOD thing! Why? Because the gay community is actually TALKING about the subject (for obvious reasons) and communications is the key factor in the life and longevity of marriage!

    Ok, so first let me answer the question posed in this article. I believe that once gay marriage is legal in all 50 states, gay marriages will (for the most part) reinvigorate the institution – even among str8 couples. Why? Because we had to FIGHT for the right to codify our relationships! The legal fights, and the discussions that come with this fight, have sparked conversations among all Americans about what the word “marriage” means.

    I was having a drink with a str8 couple last week (great friends of my partner and I) and they told us that the whole gay marriage debate really got them thinking about how they had taken their marriage for granted. And, how having gay couples as friends also impacted their relationship. They said that their gay couple friends seemed so much more happy and dedicated to make each other happy. They said that perhaps because gay’s didn’t have the burden of “traditional male/female roles” was part of the reason, but they admitted that most of their gay couple friends had been together longer than their str8 couple friends.

    So, i really do believe that gay marriage rights will be GREAT for marriage in general, and that gays will “raise the bar” when it comes to reinforcing what the committment of marriage really means to the two people (and the community as-a-whole).

    Now, let me close with all the commentary about “open relationships.” Look, i was married for 12 years, and if you think for one second that there aren’t millions of heterosexual couples in some form of “open relationships,” you’re nuts! Don’t belive me? Go ahead and google the words: swing club . I’ll be that you’ll see that there are probably 3-7 clubs and organizations within 100 miles of where you live. The thing is, the gay community actually TALK about open relationships. They come in all shapes and sizes, with differing rules and guidelines – but the bottom line is that its UNFAIR to bash gay couples who chose to live THEIR lives the way that makes THEM happy. To overlay “traditional heterosexual norms” of the “marriage=monogamy” hasn’t worked for heteros (str8 marriages continue to fail at a rate of 50%) and gay’s, have seen what’s happened to their parents, family members and friend’s marriages – and most end due to infidelity (followed closely behind by substance abuse and money issues).

    So, while drugs/booze and money are universal stresses on all relationships, open and honest discussions about monogamy and some form of “openness” is more due in part to the fact that the gay community isn’t afraid to disclose being “open” as an option – or a reality.

    Judge not-lest you be judged!

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