Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Two Studies Conclude Same Sex Relationships Are Healthy

There are two new papers from the Journal of Developmental Psychology that offers new evidence that gay and lesbian relationships are healthy:

As Science Daly reports:

Same-sex couples are just as committed in their romantic relationships as heterosexual couples, say researchers who have studied the quality of adult relationships and healthy development. Their finding disputes the stereotype that couples in same-sex relationships are not as committed as their heterosexual counterparts and are therefore not as psychologically healthy.

These results are from two studies featured in the January issue of Developmental Psychology.* Both studies compared same-sex couples with opposite-sex couples on a number of developmental and relationship factors. The first study examined whether committed same-sex couples differ from engaged and married opposite-sex couples in how well they interacted and how satisfied they were with their partners. Evidence has shown that positive interactions improve the quality of relationships in ways that foster healthy adult development.

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign compared 30 committed gay male and 30 committed lesbian couples with 50 engaged heterosexual couples and 40 older married heterosexual couples, as well as with dating heterosexual couples. All the partners responded to a questionnaire that documented how positively they interacted with one another on a day to day basis. The couples were also observed during a laboratory task and were monitored for distress by skin conductance and heart rate.

Results showed that same-sex relationships were similar to those of opposite-sex couples in many ways. All had positive views of their relationships but those in the more committed relationships (gay and straight) resolved conflict better than the heterosexual dating couples. And lesbian couples worked together especially harmoniously during the laboratory tasks.

. . .

In the second study, researchers from the University of Washington, San Diego State University and the University of Vermont wanted to examine how sexual orientation and legal status affected relationship quality. To do so, they followed 65 male and 138 female same-sex couples with civil unions, 23 male and 61 female same-sex couples not in civil unions and 55 heterosexual married couples over a three-year period. One member of each heterosexual couple was a sibling to a member of a civil union couple.

Both partners in all of the couples answered questions regarding their demographics, status of their relationship, number of children, sexual behavior, frequency of contact with their parents with and without their partners and perceived social support. Partners in same-sex relationships also answered questions regarding disclosure of their sexual orientation to their family, peers and work associates.

The researchers found that same-sex couples were similar to heterosexual couples on most relationships variables, and that the legalized status of a relationship did not seem to be the overriding factor affecting same-sex relationships.

What was also interesting from the study (but which should have been obvious) is the legal protections of civil unions may work to increase the commitment of same sex relationships:

However, the same sex-couples who were not in civil unions were more likely to have ended their relationships compared to those couples in same-sex civil unions or heterosexual marriages. This suggests that the protections afforded by a legalized relationship may impact same-sex relationships, something the study's authors plan to follow up on in future research, said Balsam.

Read it all here. The papers can be found here and here.

This research clearly has implications for the debate on same sex marriage.


JimII said...

A marriage license is not "just a piece of paper," is it? Like you, I am not surprised that formal recognition of the relationships allows them to be stronger.

I've been examining the slippery slope argument given by Huckabee, and less recently Justice Scalia, on Prophetic Progress.

My feeling was that morally, as the Beatles say it, "all you need is love."

Doorman-Priest said...

If I cut and paste this into my New Testament and call it Second Romans, do you think I'll get away with it?

Chuck Blanchard said...


Thanks for visiting! Uour short, but tongue in cheeck post raises, of course, the most serious issue here: to what extent can our experience and knowlede act as a source of authority when scripture seems contrary. Give the quite small number of New Testament statements on same sex relationships--all by Paul--and the high likelihood that Paul's comment reflected the prevalent cultural views against homosexuality and not any revalation, I think experience can and should be taken into account. Paul, after all, assumed the justivce of slavery, and we don't view his views as valid on that point do we?

Michael said...

Most Christians love to pick and choose whatever suits their prejudice in the Old Testament. None of them ever bring up the prohibition against wearing mixed fibers or the commandment by God to kill everyone who has ever worked on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2.

Those who proclaim the Bible to be the direct word of God seem to conveniently forget the really crazy parts.

I seem a little angry about this because I have been one the people that Evangelical Christians love to hate, a gay man.

Chuck Blanchard said...


I agree. Indeed, many opponents of same sex relationships ignor the Old Testement references for this very reason. As I note here and in othe rposts, there are many examples even in the New Testament where even orthodox Christians ignore scripture. If you have a mortgage, work for a bank, allow women to speak in church, or are divorced, but oppose gay relationships because of scripture, you are "picking and choosing" which scripture to follow and which to ignore.