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Conversation: Gay couples, choosing to say 'I don't'

By Cara Buckley
New York Times

bernstein_cover“For people in the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s, there was a feeling that LGBT people can do better than marriage, that relationships can be more egalitarian” when built around untraditional families, said Mary Bernstein, a professor at the University of Connecticut and an author of “The Marrying Kind?” which examines the marriage debate in the gay rights movement.

Or as the filmmaker John Waters once said: “I always thought the privilege of being gay is that we don’t have to get married or go in the Army.”

Longtime same-sex couples also have practical reasons for not marrying, Ms. Bernstein said, as their households and finances are already intertwined.

She cites herself as an example. Although Ms. Bernstein, 50, and her partner of 15 years, Nancy Naples, 61, are raising twin 9-year-old daughters, they see little tangible benefit in marrying. They already share legal rights as co-parents, the full support of neighbors and peers and an unwavering commitment to each other.

“Some people feel the need for external validation,” Ms. Bernstein said. “For us, I don’t think we could be more committed.”

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