Michelle Brown

Document Type

Honors Project

First Advisor

Dr. Harriet Hayes

Degree Award Date

Spring 1997


Parenting, Sexual Orientation, marriage, adoption, custody


Gender and Sexuality | Inequality and Stratification | Politics and Social Change | Sociology


American society is constructed on the hegemonic ideology of heterosexuality and thus defines familial relations and marriage in terms of heterosexuality. Because American society is slow at engaging in social change in regards to gays and lesbians and the family; gays and lesbians continue to be denied some of their fundamental civil liberties such as the legal right to marriage, and the right to engage in certain sexual behaviors ( sodomy) and denied the right to adopt or to gain custody of their children. As a sociologist, I am interested in researching and analyzing arguments for and in opposition to same-sex marriages, the gay liberation and feminist struggles for gay and lesbian civil liberties, and legislation which deals with gay and lesbian rights in regards to marriage, adoption, and custody. I will also research and analyze past empirical research on gay parenting and its effects on children.

The literature review of past research will be accompanied by qualitative research on couples considering adoption or in the process of adopting children as well as couples who have used or are pursuing alternative forms of insemination. If feasible, research will include homosexual individuals who have been involved in custody battles. Data will be obtained through interviews with gay and lesbian couples. Approximately five or six couples, a total of ten to twelve interviews will be conducted. The research design involves developing a questionnaire from which all interviews are conducted. After the data is collected, I will analyze the data in the form of a research report. Research, literature review, and qualitative research findings will be integrated in a final written paper.