Mental health impact of same-sex marriage denial
By Brigid Gaffikin, Bay City News Service
February 28, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - The inability to marry has a profound
impact on the mental well-being of gay and lesbian couples who
have a "deep cultural desire to marry" but who can't,
according to a new study to be released in March.
The study's lead author, San Francisco State University professor
and director of the National Sexuality Resource Center Gilbert
Herdt, said today that an analysis of 150 past studies of the
impact of marriage denial to same-sex couples demonstrates "there
is a heightened level of stress-related disorders" among
couples are denied the full legal recognition of their relationships
marriage would provide.
The accumulated stresses same-sex couples face of having to constantly
prove they are in real, committed relationships is a "legacy
of discrimination," Herdt said.
At a news conference today several people testified to the kinds
of stresses the study describes.
Teresa Weeks and Leah Crask said they faced difficulties dealing
with everyday experiences that heterosexual couples barely think
When they were expecting their son Caden, who is now 9 months
old, they had to carefully plan travel to a baby shower in St.
Louis for Leah's second trimester in case Caden was born in Missouri,
which would not have allowed Leah's name on Caden's birth certificate.
Stuart Gaffney described the "utopian moment in San Francisco"
in 2004 when he and his partner John were among the thousands
of gay and lesbian couples married at City Hall before the city's
decision to authorize the marriages was overturned in 2005.
"We experienced on that day full equality under the law"
and lost the sense of shame of being unequal, Gaffney said. Standing
up for equal marriage rights is a family tradition, Gaffney said.
His parents were only allowed to marry after California overturned
a law banning interracial marriages in 1948, he said.
Herdt and co-author Robert Kertzner examined studies of the mental
health impact of marriage on same-sex and heterosexual couples
spanning a roughly 30-year period. The study will appear in the
journal "Sexuality Research and Social Policy: Journal of
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