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Contributing to the debate over same-sex marriage

 
By Dr. Gwendolyn Puryear Keita, APA Executive Director For The Public Interest

Among APA's primary roles is increasing and disseminating knowledge about human behavior and applying what we know about psychology to address human concerns.  A recent example of our work in these areas was our filing an amicus curie brief, along with the California Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association and the National Association of Social Workers, in the California case that challenged the decision to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The court found that restricting marriage to same-sex couples violates the state constitution. In its decision, the court cited only APA's brief - one out of the 45 submitted. APA offered rigorous psychological evidence emphasizing the major impact stigma has on well-being, the benefits of marriage, and the lack of difference between lesbian and gay parents and heterosexual parents.

According to the brief:

1. Homosexuality is neither a disorder nor a disease, but rather a normal variant of human sexual orientation. The vast majority of social prejudice, discrimination and violence against lesbians, gay men and bisexuals takes a cumulative toll on the well-being of members in each of these forces, structural stigma "represents the policies of private and governmental institutions that restrict the opportunities of stigmatized groups groups. "Minority stress" is the term used by researchers to refer to the negative effects associated with the adverse social conditions experienced by those belonging to a stigmatized social group.

As a product of sociopolitical." By legitimating and reinforcing the undesired differences of sexual minorities and by according them inferior status relative to heterosexuals, structural stigma gives rise to individual acts against them, subsequently increasing levels of stress as a result.

2. Substantial...
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