On Sunday, a major national mental health organization approved a statement supporting the legalization of same-sex marriages.
Members of the American Psychiatric Associations (APA) Assembly met for their 158th annual convention in Atlanta, Georgia. On the first day, a majority of the Assemblys 250 members voted in support of a statement endorsing same-sex marriage.
Throughout its history, APA has taken a progressive stance toward homosexuality. In 1973, APA removed homosexuality from their list of mental disorders, and in 2000, the organization publicly supported same-sex civil unions.
The most recent statement goes even further by endorsing same-sex marriage, arguing that discrimination based on sexual orientation is detrimental to mental health.
The statement reads: The American Psychiatric Association supports the legal recognition of same sex civil marriage. Heterosexual relationships have a legal framework for their existence through civil marriage. Same sex couples therefore experience several kinds of state-sanctioned discrimination that can adversely affect the stability of their relationships and mental health."
Sundays decision sparked conflicts within APA. The APA Council on Psychiatry and Law opposed the statement. The Council on Children, Adolescents and Their Families also declined to support it. Those against the endorsement argued that APA should not get involved in political issues such as same-sex marriage.
Peter Sprigg, Senior Director of Policy Studies at the Family Research Council, spoke up in opposition to APAs stance.
"The theory that being denied the right to 'marry' same-sex partners damages the mental health of homosexuals and the children they raise is a convenient one--but unsupported by research," Sprigg said.
Sprigg continued, "The mental health benefits of marriage result from the natural union of a man and a woman, not from the granting of government benefits upon any household that demands them."
At the same time, gay rights groups applauded APAs decision, calling it a step in the right direction, away from discrimination and toward the recognition that same-sex families also need protection.
If the APA Board of Trustees approves the statement in July, APA will be the first major medical association to publicly support same-sex marriage.