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Research Reveals Relationship Recognition Patterns of Same-Sex Couples

By Nottage and Ward on November 23, 2011

The Williams Institute, located at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Law, is a “national think tank” which advances sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy through independent research. It’s most recent research study, released this month, has identified patterns of relationship recognition by same-sex couples throughout the U.S. and came to some interesting conclusions.

According to the research study, 19 states and the District of Columbia have implemented new laws that extend legal relationship recognition to same-sex couples since 1997, either by marriage, state-registered domestic partnerships, civil unions, or limited-rights statuses. Illinois very recently joined this list of states after implementing its civil union law in June. Each type of legally recognized relationship carries different rights and responsibilities. The analysis of same-sex couples who have taken advantage of such laws revealed the following:

  • 22 percent of all same-sex couples in the U.S. have formalized their relationship.
  • Approximately 134,000 same-sex couples are currently in a legally recognized relationship.
  • Divorce, or dissolution, rates of same-sex couples are slightly lower than those of heterosexual couples.
  • Same-sex couples prefer marriage to legally recognized alternatives like civil unions or domestic partnerships, even if the alternatives extend almost all the same rights and responsibilities of a marriage.
  • Women are more likely to enter into a legally recognized relationship than men.
  • Same-sex couples can marry in six states and the District of Columbia. Most of the couples that marry in these states are from other states.

As the legal system and general awareness concerning sexual orientation and relationships evolve, there will be many more laws, research studies, and questions. At Nottage and Ward, our knowledgeable civil union lawyers in Chicago believe everyone should be given the opportunity to have a legally recognized relationship. If you are considering entering into a civil union in Illinois, we can help you understand your rights and responsibilities as a recognized couple. Call us today for a consultation at (312) 332-2915.

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