Same-Sex Marriage and Mental Health

Same-Sex Marriage and Mental Health

The recent ruling supporting supporting same-sex marriage will have significant implications for the emotional well-being of many gays and lesbians and their children.  Same-sex couples were demeaned and their children humiliated by barring federal recognition of same-sex marriage.  Historically, same-sex couples were stigmatized and discriminated against in child rearing and adoption, putting a strain the couple and the family.  Civil marriage confers a sense of legitimacy to same-sex couples, and their children, which was not afforded under the lesser status of civil unions.  The legal recognition of both partners’ parental status granted by civil marriage will lessen the stigma experienced by the children of same-sex parents and add stability and security to family life.  Legal recognition of both parents’ rights further supports children’s well-being during times of unplanned life events such as medical crises and relationship dissolution.

This supreme court passage now helps to lift some of the psychosocial stress associated with having a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender identity, as there are studies showing increased rates of mood and anxiety disorders in states where same-sex marriage bans were implemented compared with lesbians and gay men living in states without constitutional amendments allowing same-sex marriage.  The passage also affords same-sex couples with the multitude of tangible and intangible benefits inherent to marriage, including financial advantages, legal protections, and psychosocial gains such as increased support during times of crises.  The initial research on same-sex marriage has identified comparable effects of these benefits, such as decreased psychological distress and an enhanced sense of meaning in life.

The legalization of same-sex marriage will have a positive impact on the mental health of gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender individuals across the nation.  To receive counseling regarding your same-sex relationship, or regarding the humiliation or stigmatization that you wish to relinquish, please contact me for assistance.

About sfoppe

Dr. Markheim is a health psychologist and LGBT specialist located in Denver, CO.

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