Trending News: Study offers good news for LGBT persons
A recent study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships reveals that same-sex marriage has improved the quality of life for many LGTBQ individuals. Negative stigmas, that were once powerfully attached to same-sex couples, have become less intense, according to the research.
To gain insight, Men’s Variety spoke to Stan Sloan. He's the Chief Executive Officer with the Family Equality Council, an LGBTQ advocacy organization based in New York.
“Family Equality has seen a marked change for LGBTQ families and for LGBTQ people planning on forming families as a result of the 2015 Marriage Equality decision,” said Sloan.
“Most notably, Millennial LGBTQ people now see their opportunities for their futures in perspective with their straight peers, including traditional rites of passage like getting married, having children and raising families,” he added.
Investigators evaluated longitudinal data from 279 individuals collected before and after same-sex marriage became federally legalized in June of 2015.
Prior to the famous court decision in Obergefell vs. Hodges that paved the way for marriage equality, levels of internalized homonegativity, feelings of isolation, and secondary trauma were positively associated with psychological distress.
After the ruling, data revealed a reduction of psychological distress for people who had previously reported higher levels of internalized homonegativity, isolation, and vicarious trauma.
Additionally, the life satisfaction of participants increased over time after the Supreme Court’s ruling. Secondary trauma, also known as vicarious trauma, also lessened.
Jenny Lawal, a mental health clinician in Chicago who works with both heterosexual couples and same-sex couples shared the following with Men’s Variety.
“It cannot be overstated how profound the 2015 Supreme Court ruling was on the collective mental health of people who identify as LGBTQ, particularly couples and children.
I am not saying everything is perfect and that discrimination doesn’t still happen because it most certainly does. But the legalization of same-sex marriage has made life a lot easier for LGBTQ people and families big time,” said Lawal.
When asked if she has noticed a change in perceptions among heterosexual clients towards LGBTQ persons and couples, Lawal said the following.
“Many of the heterosexual couples I work have shared that they feel freer to talk about their friends and family members who are married that happen to be same sex.
I’ve also seen family members become much more accepting of their LGBTQ children with some inviting a once shunned child back into the family. And not just their child but also their partner or spouse,” Lawal adds.
Brian Ogolsky, a study author and associate professor of human development and family studies at the University of Illinois-Urbana, shared the following in a press statement about the findings.
“The most pronounced improvement was for those who were worse off in the beginning,” says Ogolsky. “If you experienced higher levels of stigma related to sexual orientation before Obergefell, then you had a larger reduction in minority stress, and larger gain in psychological well-being, after the decision.”
Ogolsky adds, “We don’t want to overstate the findings and say that legalizing same-sex marriage made everybody in this country supportive. Levels of psychological distress dropped, but symptoms are still there. Just because a person goes from highly traumatized to less traumatized is not necessarily reason to celebrate, but it is a reason to feel that there is something to be said for public acceptance. It makes it easier for individuals in same-sex relationships to feel okay in their relationships.”
Men's Variety contacted Ogolsky through email and asked him if he felt the court's ruling helped LGBTQ people on the whole. He replied with the following, “It would appear that marriage equality improved well-being of LGBT people in the short-term,” Ogolsky said. In the same reply, he also cautions, “We do not know how the current political climate may or may not undermine the advances that occurred as the result of this Supreme Court ruling.”