Adam Isaiah Green, sociologist and theorist on gender issues, describes marriage as a stabilizing state in which legal impediments to separation provide a sense of security. As well, the state of marriage provides for a life structure in which the course of life is somewhat mapped out, despite ignoring the pitfalls that might come. As well, marriage binds sexual attraction to a stable social form, thus defining aspects of social interaction, creating frameworks for explaining behaviors, and providing for a sense of security. In studying the differences between the expectations of heterosexual men in comparison to those of homosexual men, heterosexual men had a far greater need to enter into marriage than did homosexual men. Heterosexual men found marriage to be a signifier of a reduction in sexual partner exchange, a controlling transition in the development of the libido, and transformation from the desire to retain bachelor hood to the desire to become engaged in a social connection in which procreation and monogamy were core elements of the attachment. However, Green did not find these transitions to be as important to homosexual men, thus suggesting that marriage did not provide the same social meaning as it did for heterosexual men.
Andrew Cherlin, from the department of sociology at John Hopkins University discusses the idea that by the changes in beliefs and behaviors in the last century, American marriage has undergone a deinstitutionalization. He defined this concept as “the weakening of the social norms that define people’s behavior in a social institution” (848). Two aspects of social behaviors have affected the concept of marriage. The first aspect that has weakened marriage is that of co-habitation, which resulted in marriage within 3 years 60% of the time in the 1970s, but by the 1990s had decreased to 33%. However, the other social relationship that has contributed to the deinstitutionalization of marriage is that of same-sex marriage. The idea of same-sex partners becoming bonded in marriage changes the social identity of marriage. Cherlin states that “Lesbian and gay couples who choose to marry must actively construct a marital world with almost no institutional support” (851). In doing so, they are constructing what sociologists refer to as a “family of choice”, which is a way of defining something that does not hold the same value as a traditional family structure (Cherlin). Lifestyle choice, while not invalid, does not constitute the same nature as socially constructed interrelations that have specific parameters in which to function. Society constructs its roles through specific frameworks, and those roles of husband and wife are defined as they relate to the opposite sex. There is no doubt that the roles of men and women within marriage have changed. Where once there was a distinct division, as in the ideology of separate spheres where the woman’s domain was the domestic sphere with the man’s domain that of the public sphere, those roles within spheres have been dramatically altered. In the past century, women have burst the bubble that prevented them from having the legal status in which to function in the public sector. While it might be said that men and women