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American Psychological Association body votes unanimously to support marriage equality

Marriage equality

By Adam Bink

157-0 says a lot.

WASHINGTON – The world’s largest organization of psychologists took its strongest stand to date supporting full marriage equity, a move that observers say will have a far-reaching impact on the national debate.

The policymaking body of the American Psychological Association (APA) unanimously approved the resolution 157-0 on the eve of the group’s annual convention, which opens here today.

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 resolution points to numerous recent studies, including findings 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.”

It adds that “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, gay and bisexual residents of those states and may have negative effects on their psychological well-being.”

Six states (Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont) and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriage.

“Psychologists have been very important in helping to keep the discussion at a fact-based level and not let it steer off into stereotypes,” says M.V. Lee Badgett, research director at the non-profit Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law & Public Policy at the University of California-Los Angeles.

Sociologist W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia-Charlottesville, says his board is divided on the issue and hasn’t taken a stance on same-sex marriage. He says the APA resolution will likely have a broad impact.

“I don’t think it’s very significant for the population at large, but I do think this move is significant for the ongoing public policy and legal battles in Washington and around the states,” he says.

Clinical psychologist Mark Hatzenbuehler, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar at Columbia University in New York City, whose new research is cited in the resolution, says the courts tend to look at these kinds of policy statements because “they’re really looking to see what social science research says about the influence on gay marriage and marriage bans on a whole host of outcomes.”

Badgett’s research of gay marriage across cultures is also cited in the resolution. She says the Netherlands was the first to allow gay couples to marry, and it showed “very little change in the overall society, but it was very important to gay couples themselves.”

Evan over at Freedom to Marry notes rightly in a statement:

“The American Psychological Association represents over 100,000 medical professionals who see day in and day out the real harms gay and lesbian people and their families experience when denied the freedom to marry.”

In other words, trained clinicians who encounter the hardships of their patients. It says a lot.


  • 1. Gregory in SLC  |  August 4, 2011 at 11:52 am

    Pretty awesome! (I read this earlier when Ronnie posted it). Sure makes opposed look like dummies! I wonder what all the Prozac users (Utah is a high-use state for Prozac) when they can no longer support psychologist because of their approval of equality of marriage? Hmmmmmmm….

  • 2. Alan_Eckert  |  August 4, 2011 at 11:59 am

  • 3. LCH  |  August 4, 2011 at 12:04 pm


  • 4. Ronnie  |  August 4, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    So awesome…..I love it……

    Subscribing & sharing…… Britt Morgan (True Blood) says "It Gets Better"……….. <3…Ronnie:
    [youtube 3T0v-c9uBJM&list=PLE5718B7AFD6342EE&index=161 youtube]

  • 5. ĶĭŗîļĺęΧҲΪ  |  August 4, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    Thank you for letting us know about this APA resolution!
    I translated the article into Russian and posted it for locals to read.
    They don't believe poor faggots have it bad even in the US, not to mention Russia.
    (Pardon my language: I'm mad at some homophobic idiots.)

  • 6. ĶĭŗîļĺęΧҲΪ  |  August 4, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Is that Debbie? I wish Lafayette would weigh in on this one… and maybe Jesus (not the Christ one). Oh oh… Lafayette and Jesus together — that video would be even more awesome!

  • 7. Phillip R  |  August 4, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    What wonderful news to start my work day with. I was really hoping to read a seething post over at NOM about it and was curious how they'd spin a unanimous vote. No mention as of yet.

  • 8. AnonyGrl  |  August 4, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    That is wonderful! A unanimous vote says a lot!

    Sadly, the NOM spin is going to be that the 154,000 members did not get to vote on it individually, but NOM is just spitting into the wind now.

  • 9. Ronnie  |  August 4, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    Yeah, that's her. I posted the video that Nelsan Ellis (Lafayette) did yesterday here:


  • 10. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  August 4, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    In 1973 the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from the official manual that lists mental and emotional disorders. Two years later, the American Psychological Association did the same.
    In all these years people STILL insist homosexuality and bisexuality are 'disorders'.
    I sadly doubt those that hate us already will care one flying flip about how the APA views Marriage Equality.
    But I sure am happy with the announcement 😉

  • 11. pgbach  |  August 4, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    I've been a member of APA since 1983. I've witnessed lots of votes over the years at our annual convention. Each year has included a supportive vote for varies LGBTQ issues. However, this year, THIS VOTE, seems more important. 157-0 is significant.

    In the early 80s, my doctoral committee was not 100% supportive of my dissertation topic: gay bullying.

    When I was in law school in the late 80s, views on the awfulness of Bowers vs Hardwick was mixed.

    Things are changing. Things have changed.

    Keep up the good work.

  • 12. ĶĭŗîļĺęΧҲΪ  |  August 4, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Oh, thanks, Ronnie! I missed that.

  • 13. Sheryl_Carver  |  August 4, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    You're right, Mark M, there will always be people who cannot get past whatever mental blocks they have on the subject. Which is why the KKK still exists. However, I believe our country has a majority of essentially fair-minded folk, & they are more likely to at least reconsider their opinions when a reputable organization like the APA makes such a move. Of course, they have to HEAR about it first. Not too sure how much the MSM will broadcast this. At the very least, it should help us with all the court cases that are still wending their way through the system.

  • 14. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  August 4, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    Those are VERY true statements Sheryl. I hadn't really thought about how this might play out and help us in the court cases. Certainly will make it harder for 'THEM' to claim the icky Gays will ruin marriage and destroy the Earth LOL

  • 15. Adam Bink  |  August 4, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    Thanks for the comment, pgbach.

    The note about your dissertation is fascinating.

  • 16. Chris in Lathrop  |  August 4, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    “The American Psychological Association represents over 100,000 medical professionals who see day in and day out the real harms gay and lesbian people and their families experience when denied the freedom to marry.”

    See, NOM? You're not just bigots, you're causing profound psychological harm! INEXCUSABLE!!! Shame on you for each and every penny you've taken in promoting this harm on your fellow citizens, for each and every lie you've spewed about LGBT persons, and doubly so–no, make that triply!–for each and every person you've duped into supporting the filth you peddle! And damn you for every poor soul who has ended their life because of the torment people and organizations like yours cause!

  • 17. Sheryl_Carver  |  August 4, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    Or NOM will claim that this is just another case of "pandering to the homosexuals." NOMies are not very bright, but like the wheels on their tour bus, they sure can spin.

  • 18. Sagesse  |  August 4, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Has the APA also published a position on LGBT parenting/adoption? The two positions together are stronger than marriage equality alone, which doesn't address the 'protect the children' hysteria.

  • 19. Sagesse  |  August 4, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    Lesbian Soldier Caught Up in DOMA Red Tape

  • 20. Sagesse  |  August 4, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    Sort of OT, but the latest from the annals of political money laundering.

    Mystery company dissolves after giving $1 million to PAC backing Mitt Romney

  • 21. American Psychological As&hellip  |  August 4, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    […] August 5, 2011 157-0 says a lot. WASHINGTON – The world’s largest organization of psychologists took its strongest  stand to date supporting full marriage equity, a move that observers say  will have a far-reaching impact on the national debate. The  policymaking body of the American Psychological Association (APA) unanimously approved the resolution 157-0  […] You may view the latest post at… […]

  • 22. Sagesse  |  August 4, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    This is a NOM pledge… different from the Iowa pledge, but revolting in its own NOM-like way.

    Mitt Romney pledges opposition to gay marriage

  • 23. Sarah  |  August 4, 2011 at 5:17 pm


  • 24. Sagesse  |  August 4, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    Republican lemmings. The culture war hysteria can't be sustainable.

    Gov. Perry Sets Forth His Criteria for Federalizing an Issue

  • 25. JonT  |  August 4, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    My guess is that they'll be called 'radical liberals'.

    There will be expressions of 'disappointment' over the resolution. Much hand-wringing will ensue.

    Yeah, I think that's about it. :)

  • 26. Ronnie  |  August 4, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    *cough *gestapo*cough*……..wait, what was I talking about?……Oh, that's right, revolting is an understatement……….. <3 …Ronnie

  • 27. Ronnie  |  August 4, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    You're welcome……………… ; ) …Ronnie

  • 28. Sagesse  |  August 4, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    This is a couple of weeks old. An insight into the 'gay can be cured' school of thought.

    Meet the Bachmanns' "Ex-Lesbian" Friend

  • 29. Sagesse  |  August 4, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    A counter-prayer meeting.

    Americans United For Separation Of Church And State And Texas ACLU Sponsor Alternative Event To Gov. Perry’s Christians-Only Rally

  • 30. Phillip R  |  August 4, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    Well still no word on the NOM site itself but the CNN article on the APA vote has a quote from Maggie.

    Maggie Gallagher, chairman of the board of the National Organization for Marriage, takes issue with the assertion that legalizing same-sex marriage would improve community acceptance of homosexuality.

    "There is no evidence that gay teens are better off in Massachusetts, a state that has gay marriage, than they are in Wisconsin, a state which has passed a marriage amendment defining marriage as one man and one woman," she said in an e-mail response to CNN.

    Gallagher continued, "The release of this statement is unfortunately going to undermine confidence in APA statements generally, I would predict."

  • 31. Sheryl_Carver  |  August 4, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    Try page 13 of this link:

  • 32. Sheryl_Carver  |  August 4, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    Here's another link on the APA site:

  • 33. Petr Tomeš  |  August 4, 2011 at 10:03 pm

  • 34. _BK_  |  August 5, 2011 at 1:39 am

    Focus on the Family posted an article on their Citizenlink website that basically did call them radical liberals. They attempted to paint the APA as a left-wing liberal anti-conservative polititically-correct organization. No surprise there, though.

  • 35. _BK_  |  August 5, 2011 at 1:39 am

    Lol, good one.

  • 36. _BK_  |  August 5, 2011 at 1:41 am

    Sheryl, what is the "MSM"? I don't know that acronym.

  • 37. _BK_  |  August 5, 2011 at 1:43 am

    Ah, but to NOM, it's their religious professionals who matter. I'd bet they hold much more weight in what Diaz says. I mean, who cares what 100,000 medical professionals think?

  • 38. Johnny Z  |  August 5, 2011 at 3:53 am

    It means "Main Street Media". :)

  • 39. Johnny Z  |  August 5, 2011 at 3:58 am

    I wonder what the response would be (and what the answer is to this question) if we turn this around. "What is the evidence that traditional marriage is better off in states that have bans on SSM, then states where marriage equality exists??" I wonder how Maggs will try to spin that one! LOL :)

  • 40. Sagesse  |  August 5, 2011 at 4:54 am

    "Gallagher continued, "The release of this statement is unfortunately going to undermine confidence in APA statements generally, I would predict."

    Riiight. The 157 member governing body (not 8, or 10, or even 25) of the professional organization representing virtually all of the qualified psychologists in the United States (154,000 of them) voted unanimously, and has just shot its credibility to smithereens :).

    It is an understandable proposition I suppose, for any religiously based cause. Science is definitionally 'not faith' and therefore not trustworthy. NOM is an advocacy organization, and they diminish and dismiss any professional organization (or academic expert witness) as just an 'advocacy' group for the other side.

    I'll never understand how some on the right are so proud of being uneducated and illiterate. Just to be able to say everyone else is an 'elite'.

  • 41. Sagesse  |  August 5, 2011 at 5:05 am

    Thanks for the references. The important, compelling argument is about family… LGBT families raising 2 million kids in the US, and other families raising LGBT kids.

    It's a crumbling argument, but it still is trotted out way too often, when they can get away with it: LGBT couples are selfish adults who are jealous of heterosexuals, and want marriage 'cause they can't have it, and want the financial benefits to line their pockets. Pretend the families don't exist.

  • 42. Chris in Lathrop  |  August 5, 2011 at 5:17 am

    Oh, I know I'm ranting at the human equivalent of a brick wall here (and yes, I'm probably giving them too much credit, knowing brick walls are actually worthwhile in their own right!). But I can't leave such a wonderful opportunity to slam them unused! 😀

  • 43. _BK_  |  August 5, 2011 at 7:09 am

    You're spot-on right there – it's too difficult to refrain from pointing out all their fallacies! I just wish more of my comments made it through the moderators. Now, all of my comments are blocked. : \

  • 44. Sheryl_Carver  |  August 5, 2011 at 7:09 am

    Close, Johnny. :-) It's "Main Stream Media" – news sources that the average person reads/watches.

  • 45. _BK_  |  August 5, 2011 at 7:15 am

    Thanks, both of you. : )

  • 46. _BK_  |  August 5, 2011 at 7:29 am

    You said the APA represents "virtually all the qualified psychologists in the United States", but the Focus on the Family affiliate Citizenlink has this to say about the APA:

    Richard Williams, professor at Brigham Young University, said to take the resolution with a grain of salt.

    “It does not represent all psychologists,” he said. “I don’t know if it represents even a majority.”

    That's a direct quote. If the APA represents most psychologists, then Citizenlink is deliberately attempting to misinform its visitors.

  • 47. Sheryl_Carver  |  August 5, 2011 at 8:22 am

    I couldn't find any current data on the number of licensed psychologists in the US, so we could compute the proportion that are members of the APA. However, the US gov't refers people who want to find a psychologist to the APA's site, so it looks like the gov't thinks they're a major organization.

    And here is Wikipedia's page on the APA:

  • 48. fiona64  |  August 5, 2011 at 9:01 am

    Of course Citizenlink is deliberately attempting to misinform its visitors. It's part of Focus on the Family, which has long been on SPLC's watch list for hate groups. Dobson founded a known hate group, the Family Research Council, when he left FotF.

  • 49. Rich  |  August 5, 2011 at 9:04 am

    I looked for it too, but, as you say, nada. But, I did read their encouragement to watch Brian Brown on the Thomas Roberts show (MSNBC). They shouldn't have done that. Brian was blown out of the water. As usual, he came across as mean-spirited and spiteful. He was so bad he had to resort to old canards: teach gay marriage in schools etc. Roberts did ask the panelists about the APA vote. Brian was beat out by the other panelist who touted his hugh positive message. Yes, Maggie, it was fun to watch. Thank you for asking.

  • 50. Sagesse  |  August 5, 2011 at 9:15 am

    Also the home of Tom Minnery, of some renoun for knowing how to skim a research report and cherry pick quotes out of context while carefully skipping over the definitions.

  • 51. Rich  |  August 5, 2011 at 9:48 am

    I just e-mailed him to alert him that, in joining forces with NOM, Tony Perkins et al, he may find that his integrity and independence is diminished, his somewhat centrist cultural stands (at least a while back in MA) is now over and, in the end, those "Christians" have no intention of supporting him due to his own religion. Would love to see him backtrack on this.

  • 52. Greg  |  August 5, 2011 at 11:17 am

    Maybe an "unelected clique of activist shrinks"? (Did I get enough buzzwords in there?)

  • 53. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  August 5, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    Brick walls at least serve a purpose :-)

  • 54. Johnny Z  |  August 5, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    Oh, geez…it was soo early in the morning when I responded…LOL! Of course….it's Main Stream Media". Thanks, Sheryl, for saying correctly what I meant!! :)

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