The American Psychological Association, the world’s largest organization of psychologists, on Wednesday voiced its support for “full marriage equality for same-sex couples.”
The resolution states that “many gay men and lesbians, like their heterosexual counterparts, desire to form stable, long-lasting and committed intimate relationships and are successful in doing so.”
The policy making arm of the APA unanimously approved the resolution 157-0 on the eve of the group’s annual convention, which opened in Washington on Thursday.
The group, with more than 154,000 members, has long supported full equal rights for gays, based on social science research on sexual orientation. Now the nation’s psychologists — citing an increasing body of research about same-sex marriage, as well as increased discussion at the state and federal levels — took the support to a new level.
“Now as the country has really begun to have experience with gay marriage, our position is much clearer and more straightforward — that marriage equity is the policy that the country should be moving toward,” says Clinton Anderson, director of APA’s Office on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns.
The timing of the resolution is an indirect result of several states’ legalization of marriage, said Anderson. Now that six U.S. states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriage, researchers have been able to conduct studies with those couples.
The research, Anderson said, indicates that marriage “does confer the same sense of security, support, and validation” to same-sex couples as to heterosexual ones.
The resolution also points to evidence that ongoing political debate about marriage creates stress for gay men and lesbians and perpetuates stigmas and prejudice about their communities. This stress can make people physically and psychologically sick, the APA says, calling the link between stress and illness “well established.”
This is not the first time the APA has weighed in on issues affecting the LGBT community, notes the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).
In 2009, the APA released a report on the controversial gay-to-straight “reparative therapy,” concluding that efforts to change one’s sexual orientation are not only unlikely to be successful, but may also cause harm and mental anguish. The APA also supports second parent adoption for same-sex couples.
And in 2004, the APA adoted a similar resolution opposing discrimination against same-sex relationships.