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Same-Sex Couples

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Same-Sex Couple

Many lesbians and gay men are involved in or seeking a committed relationship.

And aside from facing more discrimination and less access to legal recognition and marriage in most of the country, lesbian and gay couples generally have the same relationship goals and face the same relationship challenges as people who are straight do. They also have the same rates of relationship success and failure. The benefits of lasting intimate relationships apply equally whether the couple is straight or same-sex, and the same good communication skills help make a relationship work

Commitment and satisfaction

According to the 2000 census data, there are nearly 400,000 same-sex couple households in the United States—likely an underestimate. And surveys show that between 40% and 60% of gay men and between 45% and 80% of lesbians are currently involved in an intimate relationship.

Within these committed relationships, couples report similar levels of satisfaction and commitment as their heterosexual counterparts, with the added benefit that same-sex couples tend to focus more on equality and resolve conflict more effectively than opposite-sex couples.

The gay couple’s advantage
“Gay and lesbian couples are not only more honest with one another, they are also more likely to exhibit affection and humor in negotiating relationship stressors, according to John Gottman, emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Washington.” In this article from Psychology Today, learn more about the results of studies about honesty and harmony in same-sex relationships.

Stability and discrimination

As of 2011, as many as 28% of gay couples and 21% of lesbian couples had lived together for 10 years or more. Relationship stability within this group might be even higher if same-sex couples enjoyed the same support and recognition of their union as heterosexual couples do.

People who feel stigmatized or discriminated against because of their sexual orientation, who have to hide their homosexuality, or who are discouraged from associating with other lesbian or gay individuals report increased stress and mental health problems. This added stress naturally adds pressure to relationships.

In addition, although families headed by same-sex parents are just as healthy as other families, the entire family is at a higher risk for being the target of bullying, hate crimes, and violence involving themselves or their property.


American Psychological Association's position on same-sex marriage
In the California case that challenged the decision to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples, the American Psychological Association (APA) submitted a brief to the court that offered psychological evidence emphasizing the benefits of marriage, the lack of difference between lesbian and gay parents and heterosexual parents, and the impact that a social stigma has on well-being. The brief informed the court’s opinion that restricting marriage to same-sex couples violated the state constitution. Read an article about this issue at APA Online, written by APA’s executive director Dr. Gwendolyn Puryear Keita. She focuses on what she describes as “applying what we know about psychology to address human concerns.”


Benfits of a legally recognized union
With marriage being the natural course for so many straight couples, few may stop and consider the many benefits that a legally recognized union offers. In addition to the public commitment marriage represents within a community of friends and family, there are more than 1,000 federal legal benefits including taxes, federal loans, survivor benefits, healthcare, health insurance, health emergency decision making, child custody, property rights, retirement benefits, and more.

Domestic partnership and civil unions are not an option everywhere and do not have the same cultural and legal benefits as marriage. Full domestic partnership or civil union laws make no difference on the more than 1,000 federal benefits of marriage.

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