Sexual Orientation

911Although leading medical and mental health organizations removed homosexuality from classification listings of mental disorders decades ago, equal rights for individuals regardless of their sexual orientation persists as a critical social justice battlefront.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals and families continue to face painful and widespread social stigmatization in their daily lives. Prejudice and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation are present in a broad range of important domains, including marriage and other legal rights, employment opportunities, school settings, media representations, and military service. In addition, anti-gay violence and hate crimes are especially heinous reminders of the adverse environment that threatens the physical, social, economic, and psychological well-being of members of the LGBT communities.

At the same time, contrary to prominent stereotypes and preconceptions, research by psychologists and other scientists has demonstrated that lesbian and gay couples do not differ from heterosexual couples in the quality of their relationships or their fitness and capabilities as parents. Recognizing the crucial role that psychology can play in obstructing or advancing campaigns for human dignity and equal rights, Psychologists for Social Responsibility is committed to assisting in efforts to address the many injustices linked to sexual orientation.

PsySR Statement Supporting Same-Sex Marriage

In response to the November 2008 passage of ballot initiatives banning same-sex marriage in California, Florida, and Arizona, PsySR’s Steering Committee has issued the following statement:

Psychologists for Social Responsibility Statement in Support of Same-Sex Marriage

In accord with the commitments to individual liberty and equal protection under the law enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Psychologists for Social Responsibility (PsySR) affirms its support for the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States. Keenly aware of the deeply destructive effects of prejudice, discrimination, and social stigma on unjustly marginalized members of society, PsySR stands opposed to any national or state legislation that seeks to deny same-sex couples the right to marry.

We further believe that psychological research provides compelling support for this clear social justice imperative. After reviewing the empirical evidence, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the National Association of Social Workers have concluded that (1) the institution of marriage offers social, psychological, and health benefits to couples, (2) lesbian and gay parents are as fit and capable as heterosexual parents, and (3) the children of same-sex couples and heterosexual couples are equally well-adjusted and psychologically healthy.*

Psychologists for Social Responsibility therefore strongly supports efforts by concerned citizens and social justice advocates to reverse current state bans and to advance the legalization of same-sex marriage.


*Conclusions presented in Brief Amici Curiae of the American Psychological Association, California Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, National Association of Social Workers, and National Association of Social Workers, California Chapter in Support of the Parties Challenging the Marriage Exclusion, Case No. S147999 in the Supreme Court of the State of California, In re Marriage Cases, Judicial Council Coordination Proceeding No. 4365 (2007).

Links and Resources to Learn More and Take Action

AFFIRM: Psychologists Affirming Their Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Family

AFFIRM is a network of psychologists who are coming out in open support of their lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender family members.

American Psychoanalytic Association Position Paper on Gay Marriage

The American Psychoanalytic Association supports the legal recognition of same-sex civil marriage. This position paper includes a review of the relevant psychological literature by Gary Grossman, Ph.D.

American Psychological Association

Based in Washington, DC, the APA is a scientific and professional organization that represents psychology in the United States; it is the largest association of psychologists worldwide. Issues related to sexual orientation are addressed by its Frequently Asked Questions on sexual orientation and homosexuality, by its program area on Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Issues, and by its Public Interest Policy Directorate.

APA Division 44: Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Issues

The Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Issues is interested in psychological research, education and training, practice, and advocacy on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered issues.

Freedom to Marry

Freedom to Marry is a gay and non-gay partnership working to win marriage equality nationwide.

Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation

GLAAD is dedicated to promoting and ensuring fair, accurate and inclusive representation of people and events in the media as a means of eliminating homophobia and discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

Human Rights Campaign

HRC seeks to improve the lives of LGBT Americans by advocating for equal rights and benefits in the workplace, ensuring families are treated equally under the law and increasing public support among all Americans through innovative advocacy, education and outreach programs.

Lambda Legal

Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.

National Center for Transgender Equality

NCTE is a social justice organization dedicated to advancing the equality of transgender people through advocacy, collaboration and empowerment.

National Coalition of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health

The National Coalition of LGBT Health is committed to improving the health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals and communities through public education, coalition building and advocacy that focus on research, policy, education and training.

What God Has Joined Together: The Christian Case for Gay Marriage

This book by PsySR member David Myers and Letha Dawson Scanzoni (HarperCollins, 2005) is an effort to bridge the divide between marriage-supporting and gay-supporting people of faith by showing why both sides have important things to say.