Same-sex marriages and partnerships in two pioneer countries, Canada and Spain

Benoît Laplante, Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (INRS)
Clara Cortina, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)
Ana Fostik, Programa Población Facultad de Ciencias Sociales
Teresa Castro Martin, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)

The legalisation of same-sex marriages in 12 countries around the world, together with the legal recognition of same-sex partnerships in other 21 countries has considerably changed the marriage institution worldwide (Cherlin 2004). Some authors consider that same-sex marriage is not only a major legal change but also a real new social phenomenon (Chamie and Mirkin, 2011). Nevertheless, the difficulties in enumerating same-sex couples with available official data (Festy 2007) make it difficult to evaluate really the incidence of same-sex nuptiality. In this paper, we focus on Canada and Spain, two countries that legalized same-sex marriage in 2005, just after the two pioneers, Belgium and The Netherlands. We use marriage records (2005-2010) and census microdata (Spain 2001 and Canada 2006). First, we review previous literature in order to discuss the limits of enumerating same-sex couples with census data and marriage records. Second, and taking these limitations into account, we try to understand how prone are gays and lesbians to marry when they have the choice to do so by comparing the incidence of heterosexual and homosexual non-marital cohabitation. Third, we analyze the socio-demographic profiles of same-sex partners and spouses.

Presented in Session 30: Same-sex and Living Apart Together relationships