The North Carolina Psychological Association has released a position statement against the 2012 ballot to modify the state’s constitution to outlaw same-sex marriage, listing a number of reasons against codifying the state’s existing statutory ban.
The position statement, which you can read in full here(.pdf), lists the following as reasons why the amendment should not be enacted:
1. There is no empirical evidence that supports the denial of marriage rights to people in same-sex relationships.
Briefly, the document notes: “Mental health professionals and researchers have long recognized that being homosexual poses no inherent obstacle to leading a happy, healthy, and productive life, and that the vast majority of gay and lesbian people function well in the full array of social institutions and interpersonal relationships.”
The statement concludes this first point: “Thus, the only reason for according same-sex relationships a different legal status than heterosexual relationships is ultimately the fact that the relationship is homosexual rather than heterosexual. This differentiation based on sexual orientation is an expression of prejudice and leads to stigma.”
2. There is empirical evidence that denial of marriage rights to people in same-sex relationships is damaging to their psychological health.
The Association offers that gay and lesbian people are subjected to “minority stress” which may lead to higher levels of illness and psychological distress. The position statement goes on to highlight:
“Emerging evidence suggests that statewide campaigns to deny same-sex couples legal access to civil marriage are a significant source of stress to the lesbian and gay residents of those states and may have negative effects on their psychological well-being (Hatzenbuehler et al., 2010; Rostosky et al., 2009;Russell, 2000);”
3. There is empirical evidence that opposing denial of marriage rights initiatives has beneficial psychological effects.
Supportive policies lead to positive psychological benefits — obvious, but it is worth pointing out that there is evidence to support this assertion.
The fourth reason is rather more personal:
4. Psychologists have colleagues and we have clients for whom this issue is relevant and important, andwho appreciate representation. From a social justice perspective, significant benefits accrue to all of uswhen diverse families are legally and socially sanctioned.
This policy statement is a powerful response to the North Carolina GOP who have been widely criticized for claims that gay marriage will damage so-called traditional marriage in the state, and that gay marriage will hurt children. Legislators have also claimed that gay marriage would be the same as legalizing bestiality and polygamy.
The ballot question to enshrine a statutory ban on same-sex marriage in the state’s constitution, which will be put before voters in May, has itself been the target of fierce criticism because the language would appear to ban not just same-sex marriage but civil unions and all domestic partnerships whether between same-sex or opposite sex couples, something that legal commentators have warned could have costly and damaging repercussions for many residents in North Carolina.