Marriage equality improved security, stability, and life satisfaction for same-sex couples

New research by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law finds that marriage equality has had a profound positive effect on the security and well-being of LGBTQ+ people.

Many married same-sex couples surveyed said marriage improved their sense of safety and security (83%), life satisfaction (75%), and relationship stability (67%). In addition, marriage has influenced how same-sex couples support and depend on each other. Approximately one in five couples have contributed to each other’s education costs, provided caregiving for health issues, disabilities, or aging, or relocated when their spouse got a new job.

In June 2015, the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges extended marriage equality throughout the U.S. Almost two-thirds (63%) of the couples surveyed married post-Obergefell.

About 80% of the couples surveyed were very (41%) or somewhat (38%) concerned that the Obergefell decision would be overturned. One-quarter (25%) had taken steps to protect themselves and their families, such as speeding up the timeline for marriage or parenthood, securing second-parent adoptions, and considering a move to another state or country.

Using data gathered from 484 married LGBTQ+ people living in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., researchers examined couples’ reasons for getting married, their perspectives on marriage equality, and how marriage has impacted their lives.

“The many material, emotional, and symbolic benefits associated with marriage seem to have significant impacts on the lives and well-being of LGBTQ+ people,” said study author Abbie E. Goldberg, Affiliated Scholar at the Williams Institute and Professor of Psychology at Clark University. “While many LGBTQ+ people did not consider marriage a possibility growing up, it has made a profound difference in their lives, offering a greater sense of security, the ability to make important decisions together, and increased acceptance from both society and family.”

Additional Findings

  • When asked why they got married, the vast majority of same-sex couples said love (93%), companionship (74%), and legal protections (75%).
  • Over 30% of the same-sex couples surveyed have children, and 25% want children in the future. Twenty percent said that marriage affected their plans to parent.
    • Of those with children, 58% said that marriage provided more security for their children by providing legal protections, offering a greater sense of legitimacy, and conveying a sense of stability in their family.
  • Almost 60% said marriage affected their financial planning in terms of saving, investing, and planning for retirement, the ability to care for each other in case of illness, buy a house, and afford to have children.
  • Over half (52%) of couples said that marriage equality provided them access to workplace health insurance benefits previously unavailable to them.
  • Most (93%) couples surveyed lived with their spouses before getting married, with 70% seeing living together as a step towards marriage.
    • Married same-sex couples were more likely to buy a house together (47%) and have a shared bank account (68%) than when they were living together or engaged.
  • 15% of respondents reported that they were a caregiver for their spouse, and 12% reported that their spouse was a caregiver for them.
  • Of respondents who had a wedding (77%), more than one-third (36%) said their family helped pay for the wedding, and 29% said their spouse’s family helped pay for the wedding.
  • 11% of couples who had a wedding said they experienced discrimination while planning their wedding, including from churches or synagogues, city officials, and wedding vendors.

Read the report

June 20, 2024

Media Contact: Rachel Dowd
Office: 310-206-8982
Cell: 310-855-2696

Next Press Release

Despite supportive policies, LGBTQ people in LA County struggle with cost of living, safety, and discrimination

New series of studies looks at the lived experiences and needs of LGBTQ people, and trans and nonbinary adults, in Los Angeles County