Same Sex Relationships and Genealogy Software

Same Sex Relationships and Genealogy Software

Thomas MacEntee of has asked us to write about genealogy and Gay ancestry for National Coming Day.  While I don’t have any Gay ancestors (that I am aware of…yet), I have several Gay relatives within my tree.

I am happy to add all relationships to my genealogy database.  I enter those who are married, those who are living together–whether they are in straight relationships or same sex relationships.  Everyone in my family makes up family tree and I don’t want to leave anyone out.

Since I’ve been researching (about 25 years) I’ve run into the same problem.  Most genealogy software assumes that a spousal relationship is between a male and a female.   Most do not give you a choice to enter in the sex of the partner.  It is assumed that the spouse is of the opposite sex.

Take RootsMagic 3.0, which I currently use.  Once I enter the individual and then go to enter the spouse, the sex field is already filled in and blocked so that I cannot edit it.  I still enter the person though now they’ve got the wrong sex attached to them.

Granted, I have an older version of the software, so perhaps this issue has been cleared up in newer versions.  My hope is that genealogy software makers will continue to adapt to the realities of the modern family and will make it easier to enter the information as it should be.  I should be able to enter two male partners or two female partners if I so desire.

If anyone knows of genealogy software that will allow this, please let me know.  We should applaud those companies that are keeping up with the times and making it easier to show our families as they are.

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3 thoughts on “Same Sex Relationships and Genealogy Software

  1. Tried to add a same sex spouse in RM4 just now, added a female spouse to an existing female on my data base. It allowed me to say the new spouse was a female. However, when I opened up the two people as a family, it had the new female spouse showing as the “Father”. Not sure that is an issue, if they let you add two females or two males as a partner/couple.

    I too have the had the issue of having some gay couples in committed relationships, and have never been able to show those “families” correctly. They are a family, they deserve to be listed in my data base as one. I did not enter one with the wrong sex tho, so, now, comes the chore, I have to try to remember who they are so I can adjust the data.

  2. Carol, your comments make me wonder if it would be easier if they gave us the option to use traditional relationship terms, or generic ones like partner 1 and partner 2.

    I think this gets confusing especially if there are names that could be female or male. I have 2 males in my database with female names. One is Carroll (two l’s) and Bernice. Now if those had been same sex relationships, someone might have thought I got the sex designation wrong and changed them. It does complicate things without having an option to denote a same sex relationship in some way.

  3. Though the software frustrates me on other levels, MacFamilyTree does have a setting in the preferences to change it from Husband/Wife to Partner1/Partner2. I have yet to confirm a LGBT relative so I haven’t switched it over for my own tree, but I’d hope it would then change the Father/Mother labels to Parent1/Parent2. The only issue I find is that I would rather that be setting I could change for the couple rather than tree-wide. And I have yet to see any software that makes a distinction between a biological sex and gender for transsexuals in our trees.

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