Social Inclusion and the Value of Marriage Equality in Massachusetts and the Netherlands

By M.V. Lee Badgett
July 2011

Much of the debate about marriage rights for same-sex couples has focused on material and legal benefits. However, some of the primary benefits of marriage equality for same-sex couples and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people might be psychological. The two studies presented draw on qualitative data from 19 same-sex couples in the Netherlands and 556 people married to same-sex partners in Massachusetts (United States). The right to marry and exercising the right to marry were associated with greater feelings of social inclusion among people in same-sex couples. The Massachusetts data find that White, male, high-income respondents reported greater feelings of inclusion than other groups. Individuals with more accepting families and people with more wedding guests reported more feelings of social inclusion. On a policy level, the social inclusion effect suggests marriage may have significant psychological benefits for same-sex couples.

*Published in the Journal of Social Issues (Volume 67, No.2)

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