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LGBTQ Divorce: Why Gay Couples are Less Likely to Divorce Than Lesbian Couples

Published July 7, 2021
New data indicates that lesbian marriages are more likely to end in divorce than gay marriages. Experts are looking for explanations for this phenomenon, especially as women tend to be the instigators of divorce in heterosexual marriages as well. 

Now that several years have passed since same-sex marriage was legalized in the U.S. (and in other countries, too), data is slowly starting to indicate that, while more lesbians marry than gay men, their divorce rates tend to be higher. That is, while lesbian couples are more likely to take a walk down the aisle, they are also more likely to eventually seek a divorce. As more data emerges, researchers, therapists, and social scientists are trying to interpret what exactly is behind these numbers. What stories do they tell? Let’s take a look at how two professionals are attempting to explain this trend.

What the Numbers Say

The Netherlands, the country that first allowed same-sex marriages to be legally recognized, has the most data. Between 2005 (the year same-sex marriage became legalized in the Netherlands) and 2015, a full 30 percent of lesbian marriages failed, while only 15 percent of gay marriages did. In Britain, of the 900 same-sex couples who divorced by the end of 2018, almost 75 percent were female. Interestingly, while more men entered into civil partnerships within the last fifteen years, more women dissolved their unions.

Insights and Explanations

Whenever data becomes available, people rush to determine what it means. According to Lisa Power, one of several founders of a gay-rights charity called Stonewall, there are several explanations as to why more lesbian marriages end in divorce. For instance, she points out that lesbian couples are more likely to enter into marriage quickly, which leads many to later regret this decision. Power also looks to heterosexual marriages for comparison and finds that women are actually more likely to pursue a divorce. Within the last ten years, almost two-thirds of heterosexual divorces were actually instigated by the woman. So, Power reasons, perhaps two women are more likely to start the divorce process than two men are.

Other Potential Factors

One other contributing factor could be age. As lesbians who enter into marriage tend to be a bit older—with many of them having been married before—these lesbian marriages are more likely to be second marriages. Historically speaking, second marriages are more likely to end in divorce than first marriages. According to Ayesha Varday, president of a divorce law firm, the reason for pursuing a divorce is also highly significant. For example, women seem to be much less tolerant of infidelity than men are, and more women cite their partner’s infidelity as a reason for divorce than men do.


Whether you are in a heterosexual or same-sex marriage, the divorce process can seem stressful and intimidating. At Lee Tyler Family Law, P.C., we are committed to serving all of our clients with the compassion and support they need to build a brighter future. Call our Portland office today at (503) 233-8868 to schedule an appointment with a knowledgeable divorce and family law attorney.

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