Marriage equality symposium helps shape national policy
By Anthony King | GSD Editor
Representatives from Alliant International University’s Rockway Institute for LGBT Psychology & Public Policy, a research arm of the university’s California School of Professional Psychology (CSPP), attended the American Psychological Association (APA) annual convention to present research findings at a symposium focusing on marriage equality. The convention was held in Honolulu, Hawaii July 31 – Aug. 4.
The Rockway Institute is a “national center for LGBT psychology research, education and public policy,” a press release stated, and uses research and advocacy to “counter anti-gay prejudice” as well as influence public policy on issues relevant to the LGBT community. The institute serves Alliant’s seven campuses, including San Diego, located in Scripps Ranch.
Dr. Robert-Jay Green, founder and senior research fellow of the institute, chaired the symposium in Hawaii. Green is a distinguished professor emeritus of Alliant’s clinical psychology doctorate program.
“It is a testament to the growing influence of our institute and its staff that this research was accepted by the APA for its annual convention,” Green said in the release. The annual convention is called the largest gathering of psychologists and psychology students in the world, and attracts approximately 14,000 attendees.
Called “Same-sex marriage: New research and implications for marriage policy,” the Alliant symposium was part of a larger APA conference focus on LGBT topics. APA conference papers presented included “Addressing Clinical and Policy Issues Related to LGBT Service Members,” “Navigating the Complexities of Friendships Across Sexual Orientation,” “Mental Health of Bisexual People Across the Life Span – Three Countries” and “Toward LGBT-Affirmative Psychology in Asia,” among others.
Joining Green were Alliant doctoral student Erica Kornblith, alumni Anna Bailey and Justin Castello, and professor Quyen Tiet. The group presented three papers for the symposium, touting research that supports the psychological benefits of marriage equality.
“This is a timely and controversial subject, given the U.S. Supreme Court’s June ruling that married same-sex couples are entitled to federal benefits and declining to rule on California’s Prop. 8, effectively allowing same-sex marriages in that state,” Green said.
Bailey’s paper outlined links related to personal desire and political attitudes toward marriage equality, while Castello’s focused on whether being legally married altered a couple’s commitment to and overall satisfaction with the relationship.
“Married couples showed the highest levels of psychological commitment and relationship satisfaction, and the lowest levels of relational ambiguity,” Castello’s abstract stated. During the symposium, implications for both further research and marriage policy were discussed.
Green and Kornblith presented the study findings of the third paper, titled “Relationship status, social support and depression in lesbian and heterosexual women.” The paper examined levels of depression based on sexual orientation, social support from family and friends, and relationship status, including legal marriage, civil partnerships and single.
“For lesbians, subgroup comparisons … revealed that single lesbians had significantly higher levels of depressive symptoms than married lesbians,” the release stated. “Married women report fewer depressive symptoms than single women, regardless of whether the women are lesbian or heterosexual.”
Green said the findings from all three papers would potentially be published in several reports pertinent to marriage and marriage equality.
“We are honored to have been selected to participate this year,” he said. “It adds a new level of stature to the California School of Professional Psychology and the Alliant University system, and will enable us to attract leading academics in LGBT and related studies in the years ahead.”