Melissa Mulick, Psy.D., is a 2017 graduate of the PsyD Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, Seattle.

Dissertation Committee:

  • Dana Waters, Psy.D., ABPP, Committee Chair
  • Bill Heusler, Psy.D., Committee Member
  • Tasmyn Bowes, Psy.D., Committee Member


descriptive phenomenology, same-sex marriage, lesbian, legalized same-sex marriage, female same-sex marriage, lesbian relationship, qualitative research, lesbian marriage, legalized lesbian marriage, female same-sex relationship

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In June 2015 the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage. While same-sex marriage had previously been legalized in individual states, this ruling effectively increased the population of women legally married to other women. A review of research historically conducted on female same-sex relationships indicated that they were often fraught with heteronormative assumptions and biases, leaving the conclusions questionable at best. This dissertation used Amedeo Giorgi’s (2009) qualitative methodology of Descriptive Phenomenology in order to explore the essence of the experience of female same-sex marriage. Ten cisgender women who were legally married to cisgender women were recruited as participants. As a result of open-ended qualitative interviews, the following twelve psychological meanings were determined to be essential to the description of the experience of same-sex marriage: (a) individuality, (b) commitment, (c) communication, (d) enjoying shared time, (e) gratitude for current times, (f) legitimacy and validation, (g) legal security, (h) differences, (i) comfort, (j) support, (k) lack of gender roles, and (l) stigma. The findings from this study supported the need for additional qualitative, open-ended research into female same-sex relationships.


Melisssa Mulick, 2017

ORCID Scholar # 0000-0001-6044-7275