Any genealogy software support describing same-sex marriage?

While playing around with the genealogy software Personal Ancestral File (PAF), I accidentally set my sister’s sex to Male. Then, when I went to add a record for her husband, it forced his sex to be Female. I quickly corrected this, but it raised some questions.

What happens when a user of this software encounters a legal same-sex marriage, as happens now in Canada? Is there any genealogy software that supports describing same-sex marriages?

How about marriages of more than two people?

The software enables me to enter both of my father’s marriages, but not mark either of them as being divorced. This might be described as a ‘virtual’ marriage of more than two people, but it would be better to be able to put a divorce date on a marriage record, just to be clear.

Consider that Personal Ancestral File (PAF) was made for and by the LDS Church. The ability for it to record plural marriages would have been a requirement. I am LDS and my great great grandfather was a polygamist. But you are right it should also be able to record divorce dates.

Brother’s Keeper allows divorce dates. Also, if a couple with a child have never married, you can add a “Not Married” entry so that reports generated describe them as having “partnered” each other rather than “married” (eg “Jane Smith b. 1-1-1970 partnered John Jones b. 12-12-1970”). On other reports where the partners are connected by a line, it simply omits the word “married”. I find that second feature very useful nowadays.

BK doesn’t seem to allow same sex marriages, but as an awkward and unattractive workaround you could describe one or both parties as gender unknown. Not ideal, I know, and more than a little insulting. Perhaps John Steed might be willing to consider an alteration to the next version of BK that would make it possible? His email address is on his website at and I’ve known him to respond to requests before… though obviously this one is a little more controversial than most and will depend on his attitude towards GLBT rights.

The Master Genealogist has no problems with gay marriages. I just tested it and though it did display as a notification that both me and my (temporary and fictional) spouse were male the notification box just had the OK button, and not the “are you sure you want to do this? yes, no, cancel” that I get with date errors and such.

On an internet community I am a member of, concerning medieval genealogy, another member posted an interesting glitch in his PAF database which “divorced” King James III from his wives and “married” him to someone else, namely Franz Otto, Duke of Braunchsweig-Lüneberg. I’m sure James and Franz Otto would have found this surprising themselves!

Wars have been fought over less…

Family Tree Maker from Broderbund is a Mormon-derived application, but it has no problem with creating marriage (or divorce, separation, never married, etc.) relationship bonds between two people of the same sex. It also, not nearly so surprisingly, handles simultaneous (polygamous/polyandrous/etc.) pair-bonds quite well.