The Psychological Benefits of Gay Marriage

October 10, 2014
H. Steven Moffic, MD

The legal benefits of marriage are clear and well-known. But what are the psychological benefits?

PSYCHIATRIC VIEWS ON THE NEWS

Recent news headlines include the Supreme Court’s decision to allow the removal of restrictions for same-sex marriage in 5 states, thereby paving the way for many more.

The legal benefits of marriage are clear and well-known. But what are the psychological benefits? Isn’t that obvious, given all the happy-looking same-sex couples lining up to get married?

Well, we unfortunately know of the psychological pain involved in the divorces of half of heterosexual marriages, and the harmful absence of biological fathers in many others. Certainly, the kind of love involved is similar.

Time will tell, but from what I know of the ever-increasing evidence to date, there are many potential psychological benefits not only to the gay married couple, but to their children, their families of origin, and possibly even heterosexual marriage. Some of these specific benefits are:

• a reduction of destructive direct psychiatric and indirect physical effects of the stigma from being unable to marry

• over half of children of same-sex parents are adopted, reversing the children’s sense of rejection

• desiring same-sex marriage implies the potential value of all marriages and may also present different models of sharing marital functions that might work better

Where the legal and psychological benefits seem to merge is in the most famous statement of our Declaration of Independence:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident . . . that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

In our modern sense of happiness, though it is not my call to make, perhaps the term “gay” marriage is preferable over “same-sex” marriage. May we all be as gay as possible in our marriages, as well as in other intimate relationships.

Further reading:

Same-Sex Legal Marriage and Psychological Well-Being: Findings from the California Health Interview Survey