APA Resolution Supporting Marriage Equality

Yesterday the American Psychological Association passed a resolution supporting full marriage equality for same-sex couples by a unanimous vote of 157-0. Although the full text of the resolution is not yet available, the APA has supported same-sex marriage for several years, always citing peer-reviewed research to support their views. This quote from The Examiner is an excerpt from the proceedings of the 2010 annual convention (held last year during the California Prop 8 battle):

Research has shown that marriage provides substantial psychological and physical health benefits due to the moral, economic and social support extended to married couples. Conversely, recent empirical evidence has illustrated the harmful psychological effect of policies restricting marriage rights for same-sex couples. Additionally, children raised by same-sex couples have been shown to be on par with the children of opposite-sex couples in their psychological adjustment, cognitive abilities and social functioning.

APA has been a strong advocate for full equal rights for LGBT people for nearly 35 years, based on the social science research on sexual orientation. APA has supported legal benefits for same-sex couples since 1997 and civil marriage for same-sex couples since 2004. APA has adopted policy statements, lobbied Congress in opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act and the Federal Marriage Amendment, and filed amicus briefs supporting same-sex marriage in legal cases in Oregon, Washington, New Jersey, New York (three times), Maryland, Connecticut, Iowa, and California. In California, the APA brief was cited by the state Supreme Court when it ruled that same-sex marriage was legal in May 2008.

This resolution marks another important step in moving towards marriage equality in all 50 states, not just the 6 states and 1 district that currently do. Whatever your opinion on the rightness or wrongness of same-sex marriage, it’s important to acknowledge that rigorous research has been conducted NOT to actively prove a point in someone’s agenda but instead to carefully examine the real effects of same-sex relationships, whether they be positive or negative. And the results are clear: from a psychological standpoint, denying same-sex couples the right to marry has harmful effects while allowing marriage provides psychological benefits. Of course there is more to the issue than psychological outcomes alone, but in this area the findings show clear benefits of marriage equality and a resolution of this nature is not something that the APA takes lightly.

The entire field of research on this issue is too large to be discussed in one blog post, but if you are interested in learning more, I would recommend beginning with these articles:

  • Solomon, S. E., Rothblum, E. D., & Balsam, K. F. (2004). Pioneers in Partnership: Lesbian and Gay Male Couples in Civil Unions Compared With Those Not in Civil Unions and Married Heterosexual Siblings. Journal of family psychology 18(2): 275-286.
  • Kurdek, L. A. (2004) Are gay and lesbian cohabiting couples really different from heterosexual couples? Journal of Marriage and Family 66(4): 880-900.
  • Balsam, K.F., Rothblum, E. D., & Beauchaine, T. P. (2005). Victimization over the lifespan: A comparison of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and heterosexual siblings. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 73(3): 477-487.

Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions in the comments. There will be more discussion to come after the full text of the resolution is released…