New trends in marriage: Who takes whose last name?

Survey reveals big gaps between straight and gay couples

Three years after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, the number of Americans saying they support legal gay marriage has continued to rise. In 1996, just 27 percent supported marriage rights, and today 67 percent, more than two-thirds, support it.

With the rise in support has come a rise in the number of same-sex couples opting to take the plunge and grab their marriage certificates. In 2013, just about 132,000 same-sex couples were married in the U.S. That number nearly doubled to 250,500 in 2015, the year the high court made its landmark ruling. Today, about 61 percent of all cohabiting same-sex couples are married, up from just 38 percent before the Supreme Court’s ruling.

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With such drastic changes in the lives, relationships and demography of LGBTQ people in the U.S., it should come as no surprise that the U.S. Census will for the first time ever ask directly about same-sex marriage in its 2020 national count of the people. It’s one step closer in a long-fought effort to have LGBTQ people counted in the census, though it stops short of directly asking about sexual orientation or gender identity.

All these changing demographics beg the question, though: How do same-sex couples feel about some of the stereotypical traditions which have come with marriage throughout the centuries?

A new survey from YouGov, a private international surveying and data organization, has sought to find out in a new survey of American couples released this July.
By far, Americans continue to believe it is more important for heterosexual couples to share the same last name than it is for same-sex couples — 43 percent for heterosexual couples and just 20 percent for same-sex couples. And, sorry, straight women, you’re still giving up your last name, according to 44 percent of respondents.

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Results for same-sex couples differ significantly.

In female same-sex couples 18 percent say that women should keep their last names and 13 percent say a new hyphenated last name should be created from the two partners’ last names.

For male same-sex couples, 19 percent say that men should keep their last names and 11 percent would opt for a hyphenated name.

A third option exists, too, for same-sex couples: Twenty percent say female couples should share whichever last name sounds best, compared to just 11 percent of male couples.

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Posted by Matt Comer

Matt Comer is a staff writer for QNotes. He previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015.

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