Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Elizabeth A Hoffman

Committee Member 1

Cheryl A. Cooky

Committee Member 2

Christie Sennott

Committee Member 3

Evelyn Blackwood


The legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015 in the United States has been a milestone for LGBTQ rights. Popular campaigns pushing for the legalization argued that “love is love” and the idea that same-sex marriage is the same as heterosexual marriage. While there have been surveys investigating popular opinions around same-sex marriage, not much research has been done on LGBTQ communities themselves and what they have to say about marriage. This dissertation obtains a clearer understanding of how LGBTQ individuals consider marriage at a critical moment in history. Specifically, this dissertation investigates how identity, place, and legal consciousness interact within LGBTQ communities to shape individuals’ ideas and understandings of marriage shortly after the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States. Using semi-structured interviews, this dissertation gives voice to the marginalized: the LGBTQ individuals that were, until recently, barred from getting married in the United States. The data show that the understandings of these individuals align with previous frameworks established in the marriage literature as well as the socio-legal literature. Additionally, the data provides a viewpoint on same-sex marriage that was unobtainable until recently: data collected in a time when same-sex marriage is legal everywhere in the United States. Suggestions for future research are also discussed in the hopes that we continue to study LGBTQ individuals as the social world changes around them.