Windsor and Perry: Reactions of Siblings in Same-Sex and Heterosexual Couples

Journal of Homosexuality coverBy Esther D. Rothblum
April 2015

The U.S. Supreme Court decisions in U.S. v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry created a focal point for public discussion of marriage equality for same-sex couples. This article reports the results of an exploratory study of the reactions of individuals currently or previously in same-sex couple relationships and a heterosexual sibling who is currently or previously married to the Supreme Court decisions. Thematic content analysis was used to explore participants’ responses to an open-ended question on a survey. Reactions of individuals from same-sex couples revealed the following themes: (1) longitudinal perspectives on the advancement of rights for same-sex couples; (2) emotional responses celebrating the decisions or expressing relief; (3) affirmation of their relationship or rights; (4) practical consequences of the extension of rights; and (5) minority stress related to anticipation of future prejudice or discrimination. Themes in the heterosexual siblings’ responses were (1) ally support; (2) flat support without emotion or elaboration; (3) indifference to or ignorance about the decisions; and (4) disapproval of the decisions. These themes are compared and discussed in light of prior research on reactions to marriage restriction debates and marriage (in)equality and family relationships.

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