Publication Date

5-2016

Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)

3-9-2016

Type of Culminating Activity

Thesis - Boise State University Access Only

Degree Title

Master of Arts in Communication

Department

Communication

Major Advisor

erin d. mcclellan, Ph.D.

Advisor

John G. McClellan, Ph.D.

Advisor

Manda Hicks, Ph.D.

Abstract

Interpretations of what constitutes marriage have changed at state and federal levels, marking a unique time in U.S. history when discourses of marriage are malleable and shifting. With the recent Supreme Court decision to uphold marriage equality, it is timely to inquire about how same-sex married couples experience the impact of these decisions in their everyday lives. By engaging in qualitative interviews with six same-sex married couples that reside in the State of Idaho, participants were asked to reflect on the ways they communicate about marriage. Questions focused on participant couples’ perceived similarities and differences in communication about marriage amidst the changing legal discourse of marriage and marriage equality. Through explanations of their own personal experiences of marriage, participants revealed how their understandings of marriage influence and are influenced by larger legal and socio-cultural discourses. Interpretive qualitative analysis of participant interviews revealed a complex and dynamic connection between legal discourses and socio-cultural discourses of marriage that constitute the ways that same-sex married couples make sense of (their own) marriage in addition to the ways that they communicate with others about (their own) marriage. Therefore, to understand the significance of any major change to the legal discourse of marriage, we must also understand its relationship to various connected socio-cultural discourses of marriage in order to discuss its impact on individuals’ everyday lives.

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