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Heteronormativity and heterosexism are pervasive facets of the cultural context; heterosexuality remains the dominant mode of relating, the standard against which 'others' are measured. This has exerted pressure on individuals and families to assimilate to heterosexual norms and it is precisely because of the stated that the words marriage and family are central to of one of the most fiercely debated issues of our time.


Despite the increased visibility of gay men and lesbian women, there remains no definition of family in the public consciousness that refers to same-sex couples with children. In fact, in the not too distant past, the notions of lesbian mothers/homosexual fathers or lesbian/homosexual families would have been nonexistent. This culture of heteronormativity (Gamson, 2000) dictates that a viable family consist of a heterosexual mother and a father raising children together. Heterosexuality and heterosexual forms of relating are the norm.1 All other forms of relational experience are thus viewed in contrast. For example, the descriptive term "couples" means heterosexual couples, then, there are gay and lesbian couples. Families are nuclear and headed by two heterosexual parents, then, there are gay and lesbian families. Similarly, "woman" means a heterosexual woman, then, there is the lesbian. Heteronormativity supports the dominant norm of heterosexuality by marginalizing any relational structure that defies it.2
A review of the family therapy literature bears this out; until recently the concept of the gay/lesbian family has been virtually unheard of in the family therapy field. This fact was confirmed by two research studies. ...
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