A new study, conducted by the Center for Research on Gender & Sexuality at San Francisco State University, has concluded that around 50% of gay couples have agreed on some form of an open relationship.

The New York Times reports that The Gay Couples Study, which followed 556 male couples for three years, found that around half of the participants “have sex outside their relationships, with the knowledge and approval of their partners”.

It also found that there was little difference in the happiness of those couples compared to couples that are monogamous.

“With straight people, it’s called affairs or cheating, but with gay people it does not have such negative connotations,” Colleen Hoff, the study’s lead author, told the newspaper, noting that transparency and consent between the partners was key.

In the New York Times article, titled Many Successful Gay Marriages Share an Open Secret, journalist Scott James writes that “none of this is news in the gay community, but few will speak publicly about it”.

He also cites a 1985 study which suggested that “open” gay relationships lasted longer than monogamous pairings.

The results are sure to add to the debate over the “legitimacy” of same-sex marriages and relationships in the US, and specifically California. The state is in the midst of a high profile court bid to overturn its Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage.

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