Friday, March 5, 2010

The Psychiatric Damage of Banning Same-Sex Marriage | Gay Rights |

This is an important study

The Psychiatric Damage of Banning Same-Sex Marriage | Gay Rights |

There's a reason why professional health associations like the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Psychological Association (APA) support same-sex marriage. Sure, it could be that both of these organizations like to support civil rights, and believe in the dignity of all loving relationships. In addition, it could also be that these organizations recognize that when you ban same-sex marriage, you send a message that could have disastrous effects on a person's or a couple's psychiatric well-being.

Such is the conclusion of a new study issued by the Columbia University School of Public Health, in co-operation with Harvard University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Those are three pretty big names, lending their reputations to support findings that indicate an increase in psychiatric disorders among the lesbian, gay, and bisexual population living in states that ban same-sex marriage.

No surprise, eh? You tell two people that their relationship doesn't mean anything and shouldn't be legally recognized, and you can almost predict the negative consequences that arise. Depression, isolation, sadness, and anxiety ... and that's just to name a few. That makes banning same-sex marriage not only damaging to moving civil rights forward, but also bad for public health, too.

The study itself looked at states that banned gay marriage in 2004 and 2005. Researchers looked to see if gay, lesbian and bisexual people in these states experienced higher degrees of psychiatric disorders over the past five years.

"Before this study, little was known about the impact of institutional discrimination toward lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals in our society," said Deborah Hasin, a Professor at Columbia University and the senior author behind the study. "The study highlights the importance of abolishing institutional forms of discrimination, including those leading to disparities in the mental health and well-being of LGB individuals."

Incidentally, the authors also found that psychiatric disorders rose slightly among heterosexual couples in states that ban gay marriage. Though rates for straight couples weren't nearly as high as for same-sex couples, the point is pretty clear: there are just no good psychiatric side effects from criminalizing gay marriage, both for straight and queer folks.

This goes hand-in-hand with countless reports, mostly authored by the Williams Institute at UCLA, that show how economically speaking, banning gay marriage hurts states. States lose out on money from same-sex weddings and tourism, not to mention costs related to marriage applications and license fees.

Couple that with this psychiatric study, and really: Is there one good reason to ever ban same-sex marriage?

Opponents of same-sex marriage may be vocal. But let's see them turn up one reputable study that suggests their position has any scientific or economic gravitas behind it.

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