Civil Union Participants Project
    Longitudinal Enhanced Study
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In July 2000, Vermont was the first U.S. state to provide legal recognition of same-sex relationships in the form of civil unions. Civil unions in Vermont were recognized before any other U.S. state or Canadian province recognized same-sex relationships, and before any nation in the world recognized marriages for same-sex couples. Over 2,000 same-sex couples took advantage of this new legislation during its first year. The majority of these couples came to Vermont from other U.S. states, despite the fact that civil unions were not recognized by their home state at the time.

In 2002, the CUPPLES Project investigators contacted and obtained information from same-sex couples who obtained civil unions in Vermont during that first year, same-sex couples in their friendship circles who did not have civil unions, and their heterosexual married siblings and spouses. We conducted a survey of these three groups focusing on demographic factors, length of relationship, social support from family and friends, contact with families of origin, social and political activities, degree of “outness,” and division of housework, childcare, and finances. Originally called the Vermont Civil Union Project, this was the first study to examine same-sex couples in state-recognized relationships. The “civil union couples” will always be the first “legal” same-sex couples in the U.S. We surveyed many of these same couples and their friends and siblings again in 2005 for a three-year follow up in which we focused on relationship quality and satisfaction.

In 2013-2014 we conducted a third study in which reached out to all of the participants from the original 2002 study. We successfully recruited 786 individuals across all three of the original groups to participate in an in-depth survey focusing on many of the original topics as well as health, mental health, and other challenges and strengths that couples and individuals may face. By this time, many of the same-sex couples had gotten married, and some of the same-sex and heterosexual couples had broken up. Additionally, we conducted 56 in-depth interviews with same-sex couples and with individuals who had previously been in same-sex couples that broke up. Interviews focused on the role of legal status in the lives of same-sex couples over the past decade. We are currently analyzing data from the survey and interviews and writing them up for publication. We plan to continue surveying and interviewing these participants in the future to examine health and well-being, stressors, resilience, and other issues facing individuals and couples in mid-life and older age.

This research has received funding from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (grant number R01HD069370), the Gill Foundation, the Scrivner Award of the American Psychological Foundation, the Placek Fund of the American Psychological Foundation, the University Committee on Research and Scholarship of the University of Vermont, and the College of Arts and Letters of San Diego State University.


What's New

We finished data collection for the 10-year follow-up study. Our preliminary results are summarized in this newsletter. Please check this website for further updates on our findings.


If you are a participant in the study and your contact information changes, please let us know by emailing or by submitting this form so that we can find you for future studies.