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2 men on a wedding cake

Same-sex marriage label changes support

June 28, 2007

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Controversy aside, support for same-sex marriage tends to increase when the label becomes "civil union." SFU researcher Michael Schmitt has found that’s due in part to a perceived threat to heterosexual identity when the term "marriage" is used.

Schmitt, an assistant professor of psychology, presented two hypothetical state laws—one legally recognizing same-sex civil unions and the other, same-sex marriage—to 115 U.S.-based heterosexual psychology students (67 males and 48 females).

Participants considering the marriage law supported it less and found it more threatening to heterosexuals’ rights and social status. The threat partially mediated support for the law.

Schmitt’s research will be published in the journal Group Processes and Intergroup Relations. Schmitt is an internationally known expert in social identity theory and responses to discrimination.

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