Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download campus access theses, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.
Non-UMass Amherst users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this thesis through interlibrary loan.
Theses that have an embargo placed on them will not be available to anyone until the embargo expires.
Master of Arts (M.A.)
Year Degree Awarded
Month Degree Awarded
same-sex marriage, gay marriage, marriage, weddings, marriage equality
While same-sex marriage rights have expanded to twelve states, the time-lag in research and publishing has meant that most published studies on same-sex relationships has relied on a hodge-podge of same-sex relationship types. This study uses interview data with same-sex couples who have wed in the years after marriage became available and examines their incentives to wed and the decision making process they go about in planning their weddings. Against a backdrop of larger debates in the queer community surrounding assimilation and access to benefits, couples are changing how we must think about marriage and creating new norms for the institution. This study seeks to answer the following questions: This raises the following questions: How do a group of people previously barred from a legal institution make the decision to enter into that institution? Do they consciously see the act of marrying as a political decision, as a flouting of convention or as a reproduction of it? Does this shift to marriage represent an assimilationist tendency on the part of participants, or are they changing relationship norms and the institution of marriage itself? Studying the ways in which same-sex couples answer these questions allows us to see the meaning making that those couples do when engaging in public rituals and they will be shaped by access to this institution while changing marriage itself.
Naomi R. Gerstel