Printer Icon

Heterosexuals Support Legal Benefits for Same-sex couples, But Not Public Displays of Affection

By American Sociological Association - 2014-11-20

Summary

Study indicates heterosexuals have predominately egalitarian views on legal benefits for - but not public displays of affection (PDA) by same-sex couples.

"Interestingly, the researchers also found that, in some cases, gays and lesbians are less supportive of same-sex couples engaging in PDA than they are of heterosexual couples partaking in the same behavior"

Main Document

"We found that, for the most part, heterosexuals are equally as supportive of legal benefits for same-sex couples as they are for heterosexual couples, but are much less supportive of public displays of affection for same-sex couples than they are for heterosexuals," said Long Doan, a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology at Indiana University and the lead author of the study.

Titled, "Formal Rights and Informal Privileges for Same-Sex Couples: Evidence from a National Survey Experiment," the study, which appears in the December issue of the American Sociological Review, relies on a nationally representative dataset of more than 1,000 people.

As part of their research, Doan and his co-authors Annalise Loehr and Lisa R. Miller, who are also PhD candidates in Indiana University's sociology department, provided study participants with one of three scenarios featuring an unmarried couple who was currently cohabitating. The only difference between the scenarios was the sexual identity of the couple: gay, lesbian, or heterosexual. After reading their scenario, respondents were asked to answer questions about their perceptions of the couple. These questions included whether the couple should be granted legal benefits such as family leave, hospital visitation, inheritance rights, and health insurance. Other questions focused on the acceptability of the couple engaging in various forms of PDA, including telling others they are in a relationship as well as holding hands, kissing on the cheek, and French kissing in a park.

Among heterosexual respondents, the researchers found, for example, that 70 percent of those who received the scenario about the heterosexual couple supported inheritance rights for the couple, 69 percent of those who received the scenario about the gay couple supported inheritance rights for the couple, and 73 percent of those who received the scenario about the lesbian couple supported inheritance rights for the couple.

However, among heterosexual respondents, 95 percent of those who received the scenario about the heterosexual couple approved of the couple kissing on the cheek, 55 percent of those who received the scenario about the gay couple approved of the couple kissing on the cheek, and 72 percent of those who received the scenario about the lesbian couple approved of the couple kissing on the cheek.

"Support for legal benefits for gays and lesbians should not be conflated with favorable attitudes toward same-sex couples in general," Doan said. "We come to the conclusion that although heterosexuals may be increasingly willing to grant legal benefits to gay and lesbian couples, entrenched prejudice that takes on subtler forms may remain."

Interestingly, the researchers also found that, in some cases, gays and lesbians are less supportive of same-sex couples engaging in PDA than they are of heterosexual couples partaking in the same behavior.

"This was the most surprising finding in our study," Doan said. "Initially, it was counterintuitive because we expected gay and lesbian individuals to espouse egalitarian ideas about same-sex couples' right to express affection in public. However, we believe that gay and lesbian people were less likely to approve of certain same-sex public displays of affection due to safety concerns. Indeed, gay and lesbian individuals are all too aware that same-sex individuals are vulnerable to harassment and hate crimes."

The American Sociological Association, founded in 1905, is a non-profit membership association dedicated to serving sociologists in their work, advancing sociology as a science and profession, and promoting the contributions to and use of sociology by society. The American Sociological Review is the ASA's flagship journal.

Comments and Discussions

Do you agree, disagree, or want to add an opinion on this topic? We welcome relevant discussions and your unique insights.

Related Information on This Topic

Cite This Document

Real Estate Equality for Same-Sex Couples - Real estate brokerage provides a barometer of local economies, social and legal growth, as well as reflecting the state of society at-large


Challenges Affecting Female Same-sex Couples - Same-sex couples continue to face challenges such as discrimination, stigma and lack of role models in long-term relationships and marriages


Legal Issues That Affect Same Sex Married Couples - Matthew Brickman addresses some of the issues mediators, attorneys and judges are facing regarding same sex married couples


Gallup Survey Shows Over 10 Million American Adults Identify as LGBTQ - New Gallup survey reveals increase in United States adults identifying as LGBTQ - 10 million, or 4.1% of the population, compared to 8.3M 4 years ago


GLAAD Launches Trump Accountability Project - Trump Accountability Project (TAP) is a resource for news makers reporting on the Trump administration which catalogues anti-LGBTQ statements and actions of Donald Trump and those in or being considered for his administration


F*ck Without Fear Campaign to Reduce HIV Infection Rate by Promoting PrEP - F*ck W/Out Fear is the message of new Los Angeles LGBT Center Campaign to reduce HIV infection rate by promoting PrEP