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September 29, 2023

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Speakers discuss same-sex couples

The Center for Family and Demographic Research welcomed three scholars to speak at the University on Wednesday during a symposium, titled “Same-Sex Couples: Frontiers in Measurement and Analysis.”

The event was one of the yearly symposiums held by the CFDR and has been in the works since October, according to Libby Allen-Dachik, who works within the department.

The six hour conference began with the registration of guests at 8:30 a.m. Allen-Dachik said that researchers of relevant studies from many universities were invited to attend, including schools in Michigan, Indiana and Illinois.

The first of the three speakers was demography expert Gary Gates from The Williams Institute and UCLA School of Law. Gates’ presentation was titled, “Measuring Same-Sex Couples in US Census Bureau Data: Challenges and Solutions.”

Liz Ela, BGSU alumna and current graduate student at the University of Michigan, said that she enjoyed Gates’ speech and found it interesting that he was an expert witness in a gay marriage trial in Michigan during which he testified on behalf of two Michigan women attempting to overturn the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

The second speaker was Esther Rothblum, professor of Women’s Studies at San Diego State University. According to SDSU’s website, Rothblum’s focal points in teaching involve the psychology of women, women’s mental health and lesbian studies. Her presentation at the symposium was titled, “Challenges and Opportunities in Studying the Longest “Legal” Same-Sex Couples in North America.”

The final speaker was Debra Umberson from the University of Texas. Her speech was titled “Marital Dynamics and Health: Gay, Lesbian and Heterosexual Couples” and included focuses on the health disparities of sexual minority populations, the idea that marriage and health are deeply correlated and the notion that gender relationship dynamics play a part in how spouses care for each other in both same-sex and opposite-sex marriages.

Sandra Faulkner, a researcher at the University, felt that the “different approaches to studying same sex partnerships” was very effective. Faulkner said that with the three different focuses of the presenters, she was able to get a “holistic picture” of the topic and the subtopics presented.

President Mary Ellen Mazey also gave a short talk before the final presenter. She began by stating the importance of not only students at a university but the staff as well and said, “faculty research is absolutely essential” in order for a university to be successful.

Mazey spoke briefly about the topic of same-sex couples and marriage.

“It is so important to research this, to talk about it and how the world is changing and we have to change with it,” she said

As the concluding presenter, Debra Umberson, finished her speech, she clicked to the final slide of her PowerPoint presentation. On the slide was a picture of a rainbow-colored, pro-gay bumper sticker that said: “If we can’t marry, you can’t divorce.”

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