Attitudes toward Union Formation at the Intersection of Gender and Sexual Identity

Timothy Ortyl, University of Minnesota
Kathleen Hull, University of Minnesota
Ann Meier, University of Minnesota

The last several decades have brought significant social changes in the industrialized West that may influence young adults' attitudes about union formation. We use data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) (N=14,121) to compare men to women, and sexual minorities to heterosexuals on attitudes toward cohabitation and ratings of the importance of lifelong commitment and marriage. We find that compared to heterosexuals, sexual minorities hold more accepting attitudes toward non-marital cohabitation and report that marriage is less important to them. Regardless of sexual identity, all young adults give high ratings to the importance of lifelong commitment. However, interactions with gender indicate that straight women rate lifelong commitment exceptionally high, significantly higher than straight men and sexual minorities of both genders. We discuss possible reasons for the differences we reveal including the ambiguity of contemporary survey questions on marriage and cohabitation for sexual minorities.

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Presented in Session 94: Multiple Contexts of Union Formation