Straight, LGB, Married, Living in Sin, Children Out of Wedlock: A Comparison of Attitudes Towards ‘Different’ Family Structures

Stephanie N. Webb, Phillip S. Kavanagh, Jill M. Chonody

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Australia is one of the last Western countries to legalize marriage between same-sex couples. Research suggests that the delay in marriage equality may be a consequence of societies’ conceptual connection between marriage and family being an ultimately heterosexual experience. The aim of this study was to investigate attitudes toward same-sex parenting within the marriage equality debate. Members of an Australian sample (n = 436) were randomly allocated to 1 of 9 conditions, where they received a vignette of either a heterosexual couple, a male same-sex couple, or female same-sex couple in 1 of 3 family structures (marriage/no children; marriage/children; no marriage/children). Participants rated their level of acceptance toward their allocated vignette, deciding whether the couple deserved the same rights as anyone else. Results demonstrated a significant division between acceptance of same-sex couples and heterosexual couples getting married and having children, with more negative attitudes toward same-sex couples present. Findings also highlighted a prejudice toward couples having children out of wedlock, regardless of sexual orientation of the couple. The implication for marriage equality advocates is challenging society attitudes toward marriage and family, by educating the community about same-sex parenting as well as parenting beyond marriage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-82
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of GLBT Family Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Feb 2020
Externally publishedYes


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