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Same-Sex Relationships and Dissolution: The Connection Between Heteronormativity and Homonormativity


  • Associates in Behavioral Health, Seattle, Washington, and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington, 818 12th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98122.

  • School of Social Work, University of Washington, 915 North 77th St., Seattle, WA 98103.

  • Human Development and Family Studies, University of Missouri, 314 Gentry Hall, Columbia, MO 65211.

Department of Human Environmental Studies, 412L EHS Building, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, MI 48859 (


A queer feminist lens is used to present a selected review of the demographic and descriptive literature related to how same-sex couples in the United States begin and dissolve relationships. We argue that despite research suggesting a uniformity of same-sex coupling that reflects a heteronormative nuclear family, there is actually great diversity in same-sex relationships. As legal recognition of same-sex couples increases from state to state, however, the dissolution of same-sex relationships has become as challenging as legally establishing them. This review explores several current cases representing the difficulties experienced by couples who marry or have a civil union in states requiring residency prior to dissolution and try to dissolve a relationship when they reside in a state that does not recognize same-sex unions.