By: Shannon Ralph
A recent study published in the journal Family Process finds that couples in heterosexual, gay, and lesbian relationships are more monogamous today than they have been in the past. The study of more than 6,800 men and women in 1975 and 2000 finds that there is dramatically less extra-relational sexual behavior in 2000 than in 1975 for all couple types.
The percentage of heterosexual men who reported having sex with someone other than their wife dropped to 10% in 2000 from 28% in 1975; among married women, it declined to 14% from 23%. Among gay men, the percentage who cheated on a partner they lived with dropped to 59% from 83%; for lesbians it declined to 8% from 28%. Half the gays and lesbians in the study were in civil unions, half were living together in committed relationships, the researchers say.
The authors of the study speculate that the awareness of HIV/AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases has led couples to be more cautious and conservative about sex outside of their relationship. However, the researchers also feel that the findings can be in part attributed to greater acceptance of same-sex relationships.
Emily Hecht-McGowan of the non-profit Family Equity Council, which works toward equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender families, agrees. “As public opinion has shifted about gay people and the LGBT community overall, I think same-sex couples are more comfortable living openly in their communities and building families,” she says.
I love it when clinical research supports common sense. Of course societal acceptance strengthens same-sex relationships. Of course any relationship that is forced to be clandestine and hidden from society will suffer. Monogamy suffers. Families suffer. As same-sex couples find more societal acceptance, our relationships will have the freedom to thrive. And everyone, gay and straight alike, benefits from strong families.
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