Columbia prof says Prop 8 adds to gay health woes

Jan 15, 2010 By LISA LEFF , Associated Press Writer
In this Jan. 11, 2010 file photo, couples from left, Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, and Jeffrey Zarrillo and Paul Katami leave the federal courthouse after their first day in court in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

(AP) -- A Columbia University social scientist says California's voter-enacted ban on same-sex marriages contributed to the social stigma that makes gay men and lesbians more susceptible to depression, suicide and substance abuse.

Testifying in the federal trial to decide if Proposition 8 violates the U.S. Constitution, Ilan Meyer said the measure sent a message of "You are not welcome here" to gay people by erecting a barrier to a "desirable and respected" institution.

"People in our society have goals that are cherished by all people, that are part of the social convention," Meyer said. "We are all raised to think there are certain things we want to achieve in life, and this Proposition 8 says if you are gay or lesbian, you cannot achieve this particular goal."

The trial, the first in a federal to examine the constitutionality of state gay marriage bans, is scheduled to resume Friday with testimony from Michael Lamb, a Cambridge University psychologist who will discuss gay and lesbian parenting and the benefits to children of allowing same-sex couples to marry.

During Thursday's session, Howard Nielson Jr., a lawyer for the measure's sponsors, mounted an exhaustive cross-examination, using Meyer's own research showing that black and Latino gays had fewer mental health problems than white gays to try to undercut the professor's assertion. Meyer had hypothesized in his study that black and Latino gays would have more because of their dual minority identities.

Nielson also challenged Meyer on his statement that California's domestic partnership law, which grants same-sex couples the same legal benefits and responsibilities as married spouses, was itself a source of stigma and emotional distress. Equality California, the state's largest gay rights group, sponsored the 2003 law.

"Do you believe Equality California would sponsor legislation that would stigmatize (gay) individuals," Nielson asked.

"No, but that doesn't change my answer," Meyer said. "Having a second type of an institution that is clearly not the one that is designed for most people clearly is stigmatizing."

Earlier Thursday, an economist for the city of San Francisco testified that preventing gays from getting married costs the city millions of dollars a year in lost revenue and increased services.

Explore further: Society bloomed with gentler personalities and more feminine faces

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Marriage's effect on lesbian and gay couples studied

Mar 17, 2009

Legal recognition of same-sex relationships, including marriage, influences how gay and lesbian baby boomers prepare for late life and end of life issues. Unmarried same-sex couples may suffer greater fear and anxiety around ...

AMA votes to seek repeal of 'don't ask,don't tell'

Nov 10, 2009

(AP) -- The American Medical Association on Tuesday voted to oppose the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, and declared that gay marriage bans contribute to health disparities.

Recommended for you

Soccer's key role in helping migrants to adjust

14 hours ago

New research from the University of Adelaide has for the first time detailed the important role the sport of soccer has played in helping migrants to adjust to their new lives in Australia.

Congressional rift over environment influences public

Jul 31, 2014

American citizens are increasingly divided over the issue of environmental protection and seem to be taking their cue primarily from Congress, finds new research led by a Michigan State University scholar.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

croghan26
not rated yet Jan 15, 2010
"Earlier Thursday, an economist for the city of San Francisco testified that preventing gays from getting married costs the city millions of dollars a year in lost revenue and increased services."

I read most of that testimony elsewhere and it seemed to me to be a very weak argument. It is positied on SF being unique in having SS marriages, as there would be an influx of gays going there to be wed.

If SS marriages were universal, as in throughout the state then it seems to me that this economic advantage would be canceled.