Regardless of whether you believe that individuals in a same-sex relationships should be allowed to marry or raise children, currently same-sex marriage is legal in the United States, Canada, the UK, and other countries, and children are raised in these unions. To record an accurate genealogy, you must acknowledge these facts. I believe recording biological parents is very important, whether an individual ever actually knew or associated with their birth parents or not. But I also believe that the individuals a child was raised by are equally important to provide an accurate depiction of the child’s life and who their loved ones are, no matter what gender or sexual orientation they may be. If you have homosexual relationships in your family tree and would like to add them to your genealogy database, continue reading and I will help you figure out how.
Homosexual marriages and partnerships can be tricky to manage in genealogy software. As they are not “traditional,” many programs do not support them. Spouses are automatically recorded as opposite genders which cannot be changed. Fortunately, some developers have realized the need for homosexual relationship support and have included it in their software. According to Wikipedia, desktop programs that have the ability to record homosexual marriages include:
- Brother’s Keeper
- Family Historian
- Family Tree Builder
- RootsMagic 7
- My Family Tree
- The Master Genealogist
I have personally tested for this capability in RootsMagic 7, Ancestry.com, FamilySearch Family Tree, and MyHeritage. It is built into MyHeritage, RootsMagic 7 and Ancestry.com, but not FamilySearch Family Tree. Awhile back there was a rumor that this feature would be added to FamilySearch Family Tree. Thomas MacEntee wrote a good discussion of that in this blog post. As a frequent user of FamilySearch, I trust that this feature will be available on Family Tree eventually, but I think it is not currently a high priority to the programmers, as there are other bugs that need to be worked out of the system first.
On Ancestry.com, you can add two parents of the same gender to a person, or add a spouse of the same gender to a person. All you have to do is change the gender when you are entering the person’s information. This is what it looks like on the new Ancestry interface (which will officially replace the old interface on Tuesday):
A few weeks ago, I looked and could not find a way to add alternate parents to a person on Ancestry. Whether it is a new feature or I just could not find it before, I don’t know, but it is available now. If you go to the person’s main profile page, and look in the right hand corner where it says “Edit,” click on that and it will bring down a menu with an option to “Edit Relationships.” I circled the button for you here:
You can add an alternate father or an alternate mother, and change the relationship type for each parent. You can also choose which set of parents shows up in the main tree view by clicking on “set as preferred.”
So in this example, “Test Test” was born to John Doe and Hannah Sample, but his biological parents were either divorced or his father died when he was very young. His mother remarried to a woman named Jane Test, who became his stepmother. See my articles on divorced, remarried, and never married couples for more explanation on this aspect. Adopted relationships can also apply here.
As with my previous posts, I showed you in pictures how to do it in one program and hope you will be able to apply the same principles in whatever program you are using. It’s actually very simple to add parents of the same gender to your database, if the program you are using supports it. All you have to do is change the gender of one of the individuals. Some programs will not let you do this, or will give you an error message if you do. There is a workaround for these programs: simply make one of the couples the wrong gender and attach a note explaining that they are actually male/female and the program won’t let you change the gender. There are obvious problems with this approach. I recommend that if you use this workaround, you only use it in a database that you plan to keep to yourself, so that others don’t get confused about the genders of the people involved.
I hope this series on recording nontraditional families has been helpful. Feel free to comment with questions or discussion of my tutorials.
More articles in this series: