Belief in God, parenthood prompt gays to legalise partnerships

July 31st, 2008 - 5:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, July 31 (IANS) Lesbian and gay couples who believe in God and have children are more likely to formalise their relationship, according to a new study. “Opponents of relationship recognition for same-sex couples often say that we have to protect children, or that same-sex relationships are against God,” said Ramona Faith Oswald, a University of Illinois associate professor.

“But this study suggests that lesbians and gays who seek relationship recognition may be acting to protect their children and enact their own religious beliefs.”

In the study, 190 persons who were cohabiting with a same-sex partner in Illinois were surveyed. Within this group, a sub sample of those who had legalised their same-sex relationship by making a will or granting power of attorney to their partner was identified.

Length of relationship was the strongest predictor that a couple would legalise their relationship. They were more likely to belong to a supportive religious congregation than non-legalizing cohabiters, Oswald said.

“Faith communities may be important sources of legal education and advocacy for same-sex couples,” she noted.

From the legal followers, Oswald identified a still narrower group she called ritualisers, couples who had both legalised and participated in a commitment ceremony.

Having children and identifying religious beliefs as being very important in their daily life were the strongest predictors that a legalised couple would ritualise their relationship.

In fact, mothers and fathers in this study were 3.5 times more likely to have had a commitment ceremony than lesbians or gay men who lived together and had legalised their relationship but had not been part of a commitment ritual, she said.

Most children in this study were from partners’ previous relationships, she noted. Most children in the study were teenagers at the time of the commitment ceremony.

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