Same-Sex Marriages, Unmarried Partners, and Diverse Family Structures

Posted January 20, 2007 by Geni | 44 Comments

A number of users have inquired whether Geni supports same-sex marriages, unmarried partners, or families which bring together children from previous relationships.

1. Geni trees do support same-sex marriages. When spouses are added, their default sex is the opposite of their partner. But this default can be changed by clicking "edit info". We are working on a simpler way to add a same-sex marriage.

2. While unmarried partners can be added to the tree, they do not have their own label as of now. We will introduce the "partner" designation shortly.

3. Geni trees do support families that include children from previous relationships. To add a half-sibling or step-sibling, we recommend that first you add all the parents, then add the siblings. Geni will prompt you to choose the parents for each sibling. If you added the sibling before the parents (so Geni assumed it was a full sibling), you can make the correction by clicking "edit info".

In summary, our goal is to make Geni flexible enough to accomodate many different kinds of families. We are working to implement your feedback as soon as we can.


  • Sean

    “To add a half-sibling or step-sibling, we recommend that first you add all the parents, then add the siblings.”
    If this is even possible yet, it isn’t clear how to add more parents. For example, I can’t seem to add my mother’s current husband or my half brother’s father.

  • USTommyMC

    This is why I’m not too worried about a feature not being ‘there’ yet. You guys are awesome and are doing an even better job listening to your users. The ‘unmarried partner’ is one designation that I’m waiting for as my family has many of those.
    I’ve already gotten a dozen or so people to sign up and they love it as well. Thanks for this great site and service.

  • Ivar

    Hi, two questions / feature requests.
    1: Is it possible to create a new relationship between two people who are already in the tree?
    For example: the family tree was created, including 2 brothers. A woman first marries brother 1, then marries brother 2.
    2. I’d really like the option to merge trees. Now two times it happened that when adding a new person, including their email address, the email couldn’t be used because it was in the system already.
    In that case I’d really like merge our tree’s – perhaps without me being able to see the other person’s tree.

  • Ivar

    > 2. While unmarried partners can be added
    > to the tree, they do not have their own
    > label as of now. We will introduce the
    > “partner” designation shortly.
    Will you also support two people who have never been married (or partners) but who have children together?

  • MIke

    You folks will need a nap or two before this all quiets down… But first, let me drop a sizable pony request on you.
    How about adding a map function? It should be possible to use the City/State/Nation fields in the profiles, along with a Lat/long cross tab (Maybe GNIS [USGS] in the USA?) to create point locations to associate with individuals on a tree. Then it might be possible to display a tree geographically. That might be very interesting.

  • Atle

    I like Geni very much, but as many others have asked, can you comment something about merging trees. Since your logo says Everyones related, and your goal is to connect the world in a large family-tree, im sure you have thought about the possibility that two (or more) trees must join to grow further. Both me and a cousin of mine have started a family tree, and we ends up with two family-trees with many duplicates instead of helping each other.
    I have seen no comment from you on this, yet I would think its the most important key to make this site a success. Are we talking weeks, months or years before we can grow our trees furter?

  • Tom Oakes

    I have not seen adoption addressed in this blog yet. What about anonymous sperm/egg donation scenarios?

  • Sunny

    please also add the following information under profile:
    MD (medical doctorate) to the list of degrees
    DO (doctor of osteopathy) to the list of degrees
    perhaps the subject in which you recieved your degree in. A PhD in molecular biology is very different from a PhD in english literature
    It would be really slick to implement google maps integration into the contact section. Ideally, their would be a small icon beside “home” or “work” address when clicked, would bring up a google map of the location
    Adding captions to pictures uploaded would be great. I’d love to be able to upload pictures of my grandparents and parents at various points in their lives, with a little caption of how old they were etc. at that particular moment
    Please allow us to send reminder emails to family members who have email addresses entered, but who did not claim their profile yet.
    I’d eventually like to see statistics. One of the best uses for a family tree is to trace predisposition to specific diseases. From a tree we can find out if we are carriers for a multitude of diseases (i.e. color blindness, CF etc.). We can also find out if we are susceptible to heart disease, cancer etc. You can easily implement this by having users enter the information in “date of death”. You can ask them for reason behind their death.
    I would also like a way to export/import data. I have a massive family tree made using MacFamilyTree and would love to be able to import the Unicode / Ascii files that MFT exports data as.
    Thanks for an amazing addictive ste :)

  • Aaron

    Forgive my ignorance… but isn’t genealogy supposed to be the tracking of blood lineage?
    So a child of a same-sex couple shouldn’t be listed under them, it should be listed under the actual egg and sperm contributers (forgive the scientific terms)…difficult as it may be to track them down. Who raised them is good FYI type stuff, but not true genealogy.

  • Lance

    I’ve been very happy to sit on my feature requests as: (i) you seem to have your hands full; and (ii) as with Flickr, I haven’t minded waiting for something when the developers are clearly working hard to implement/improve features.
    Still, I feel I must say: RSS, por favor!

  • joe

    @aaron – the definition of “genealogy” may be just tracking blood relationships, but with today’s complex family situations, i think people are more inerested in tracking family relationships, blood or not.

  • Aaron

    @joe (and geni team) – That is all well and good. If that is the how the site is going to be built out, to support these “complex family situations”, then I guess an “is blood” flag needs to be made available to differentiate from blood lineage and “complex family situations” lineage.
    If I were a child of one of these situations I would like to be able to look back at my true blood lineage to know if I were of Norwegian, African or whatever decent.
    Not being from one of these situations, I don’t know if someone who is, would care what their great great great great grandpa that isn’t a blood relative is of X decent. I would think they would just be interested in those that they actually know face to face in their lifetime.
    Also continuing down this path… does that mean that the potential for a given individual to have one set of “complex family situation” parents, and another of “blood” parents needs to be created? In case the person wants to know of their blood history.
    If this individuals “complex” parents divorced and remaried when they were 10 (so they remember them together and apart) does each of those new tracks need to also be taken into account?
    A given individual, if tracking all “complex” situations could theoretically have dozens of parents depending on how many divorces and remarryings there are.
    Yet another complication could be added if I wanted to add just a family friend that was considered an uncle.
    This all sounds quite complicated to track.
    It’s not that I am against “complicated” situations… but I am against complicating the process. As this develops, I don’t want to have to take extra steps to make sure blood relatives are marked as such. I don’t want to be following a given blood lineage and run into some spaghetti bowl of a a person having 15 “care givers” and have to determine which is actually blood.
    Continuing down this path needs to be given careful consideration to the complexities it will introduce. Is this a genealogy site, a social networking site or both?

  • Mark

    Why bother making the addition of same-sex partners a feature that everyone has available right out of the box?
    If you add same-sex support it should be an option that a user must dig into their account preferences to enable.
    There’s no reason to make everyone have to select (or even have the option of selecting) whether their spouse is of their same sex or not.

  • Confused

    My thinking is that it personal preference as to which line to follow (blood or legal)? I was adopted at birth so I instinctively put my adopted parents down. Yet, I have met my birth parents and would also like to track that lineage and invite them to participate. I’d like to see an option to “link” both birth and legal parents. Maybe the option to have many different trees.
    Also, an option to save my tree on my computer would be nice.

  • Corey

    I think it would be really nice if the persons whole name was displayed, even if the box has to be elongated on the display page. Seems to be limited to 15 characters, and as you go back in history (1600′s in Norway) the names tend to get a bit long…

  • Phil

    How do you add a non-married partner — especially one who has child(ren) with the partner?

  • Izo

    What about two brothers married to two sisters. I would like to create a new relationship between two people married to two of my uncles. Those aunt are sisters, but not from my family. Is it possible to make a relationship between them ?

  • Thomas

    First, I’m French so please excuse my English.
    In my family, there is a marriage between two cousins. How can I implement that?

  • Erin Lamson

    I am adopted and have relationships with my birth families and would like to add them. How can I do that? Hmmm. Thanks!

  • Alejandro

    I have a really weird problem, take a look at this picture and tell me if this is possible:
    Also, use an alreday created relative to link him/her to another…but I think the picture explains it better.
    Thanks ;)

  • OffBeatMammal

    I’d love to see the ability to add dotted connections.
    For instance I have details of my Fathers cousin, but not the lineage that connects them right now so no way to add their related but not directly connected family.
    I’d also like to give a +1 to the ability to Geotag people, ideally a multiple of times… I was born in one country, lived for a decade in a second and now reside in a third. My Wife has lived in 4 countries and our daughter two… would be great to track moves both local and international

  • a

    On a related subject, I notice only females have the “maiden name” field, so how are name changes handled in a same-sex relationship?
    …or one where the guy changes his last name?…
    …or more generally, where someone changes their first/last name for a reason other than marriage?

  • Mike

    Great project… very cool! Three points -
    1) Can you add as a child or spouse someone who is already in the database somewhere else? If not, this would be a good idea.
    2) Adoption is very important to implement…in my family, I have 5 cousins that all consider themselves siblings even though they are from three marriages between four individuals. My aunt and her second husband each adopted their stepkids. The way it is now, my cousins aren’t listed as my cousins.
    3) Shouldn’t the default for every entry be maiden names? That’s the way that it is done for most genealogy programs. If you want to identify an individual, especially one in the distant past, you really go by the maiden name. The way it is now the tree lists the married name (which is usually the same as the husbands), and the maiden name is hidden… just a suggestion for consideration..

  • Jess

    I think I’m not understanding how to add 1/2 brothers and sisters and their parents etc.? I thought it said you could do this by editing their specific info…but i’m not seeing how…

  • Dan

    My mom’s brother married my dad’s sister. Is there anyway to enter that? If it would make it more clear:
    Jack and Jill Jones are siblings.
    Bob and Barb Brown are siblings.
    Jack married Barb and Bob married Jill.

  • barca1

    I have the same problem as Alejandro.
    Also, use an alreday created relative to link him/her to another…problem on his picture is my problem too.

  • M

    Hi Geni!
    What a fun site, I really enjoy digging into my history.
    I have one question. By defalt, only women get “maiden name”. Is it possible to add that to men aswell? I have one such case in my family tree + it’s quite common here a married couple they take a new name here.

  • Kurt

    How can I remove persons from the tree that simply do not exist because they are filled in by mistake?

  • Jörgen Björkman

    Feature Request:
    I have added my grandfather and my grandmother.
    I have added my grandfathers parents.
    I have added my granmothers first husband,
    he is a halfbrother of my grandfather and therefore already exists in my family tree.
    I want to add a relation between two existing persons in my family tree
    (ie the first husbands father is someone already in the three).

  • Sven De Coster

    Hi team
    Great job! Thumbs up from Belgium! Just found out about Geni yesterday, and allready full steam ahead to add my tree :-). Guess you will have more visitors from Belgium as you were featured in a local newspaper.
    As some other posts: please add adoption, as three of my cousins/nephews are adopted. I’d like to have that somehowe “on record”.
    Another point I saw: in my profile, I’m listed as father of my current partner’s daughter. It’s clear that I am not her father, but stepfather. Guess you can correct that in a future version.
    As your site will become more and more known over the world, I guess you’ll need to add some “complexity” as to “local habits”. Here in Belgium, e.g., married woman keep their name (emancipation? ;-) so no need for “maiden name” field. Also, we have a different school system. We now use the Bachelor/Master system as well, but it’s abbreviations are not well known yet.
    Thanks for this great site!

  • Jörgen Björkman

    Feature Request:
    When you have found that a person has been registered twice it would be nice to be able to merge these two persons into one including their relationships.

  • Meera

    Can you show uncle-niece marriages and first cousin marriages? how do you connect two people by a new relationship? i have a problem deleting an inidividual who appears to have got entered twice. also does it take longer to update the ifo as the famly gets bigger?

  • June

    First, I love this site! It is already awesome, and can only get better.
    Q: How can I list birth parents and adoptive parents, especially if both sets are precious? Because the adoptive father isn’t listed as FATHER, the siblings aren’t related!

  • Geni Team

    The Geni Team is working on a way to handle adoptions on your Geni Family Tree — we hope to have this available soon.

  • Rebecca

    I want to weigh in on the side of distinguishing between blood relationships and legal or emotional ones. Those of us doing genealogical research will be very thankful if it remains possible to tell genetic relationships from the equally important ties of adoption.

  • AH

    I like this site but as someone with 3 step siblings I don’t see those connections showing up on my tree- when “my page” shows up it only includes my biological family, I can’t seem to alter it so that it shows my relationships to my step-sibs, it’s as if they’re not in my immediate family. How do you fix this?

  • Lanette

    I am also interested about the adoption issue. I do understand that this is “blood lines” however as someone else stated there are complex families. While I can add my parents former spouses who are not related to me but are my siblings biological parents and are shown on my tree, I can’t add my cousins who were adopted by my uncle unless I list them as blood which isn’t accurate. But I will not exclude them cause there are my family. My grandparents from the former marriages treated me as family regardless of blood. You have red dotted lines for former spouses why not blue dotted lines for adoption for example then that way they can be included as the family but show that they have there own line as well.

  • Glen

    My dad’s elder brother and mum’s elder sis are married. is there a way i can link this properly so that i dont hv to repeat information.

  • Tim

    My Mum will be so excited by this! :)
    However, I noticed that only females can change their name when married (there is a maiden name field). But what about us blokes? I changed my name when I married, yet I have to either put my married name OR my “bachelor” name. :(
    I guess the same issue would also apply to people who changed their name by either means…

  • pheisholt

    Almost 5 years have passed since this was posted, but I can’t see that the ‘partner’ designation has been added yet. What happened?

    • Anonymous

      Hi pheisholt,

      We’ve had the “Partner” designation for a while. To designate a partner for a profile, click “Edit” and select the Relationship tab. Next, select “Partner” from the drop down and save your changes.

    • pheisholt

      I finally did find partner under Relationships. But ‘partner’ ought to have been an option when you add a new family member. In addition to His/Her Sister, His/Her Brother etc. there should have been a ‘His/Her Partner’.
      The way it works now you first have to select fo instance ‘His Wife’/’Her Husband’ when adding a family member, and then open Edit Profile, select the Relationship tab and finally change ‘Husband’ to ‘Partner’.
      Why make it so difficult?

      • Anonymous

        If you want to add a partner to a node, select Add Husband/Add Wife. You will have the option to choose Partner from the drop down.

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