Marriage equality became national law in 2015 with a Supreme Court decision that affirmed same-sex couples’ 14th Amendment rights to equal protection under the law. Perhaps unsurprisingly, marriage between same-sex couples has increased significantly in the intervening five years. Prior to the ruling, only 38% of cohabitating same-sex couples lived with a spouse. As of 2017, that figure rose to 61%. 

Every couple has individual reasons for wanting to get married. For same-sex couples, these reasons almost certainly extend beyond the mere fact that they can do so legally. Do same-sex couples have different reasons for getting married than their different-sex counterparts? Pew Research conducted a survey of both LGBT adults and the general public to find out. 

The survey listed reasons for getting married, such as financial stability, legal rights and benefits, love, companionship and having children, asking respondents to rank them as either very important, not important or somewhat important. 

Nearly half of LGBT respondents, 46%, ranked legal rights and benefits as a very important reason to get married. This was twice the rate for the general public, 23%. By contrast, 30% of the general public ranked having a religious ceremony to recognize the relationship as a very important reason to marry, while that number dropped to 17% among the LGBT population. 

However, some of the reasons were similar between LGBT adults and the general public. More than 70% of respondents in both groups cited companionship as an important reason to get married, and well over 80% of both groups cited love as very important. 

Nearly 50% of the general public cited having children as a very important reason to marry, while a plurality of LGBT adults, 41%, described it as a somewhat important reason.