Study Finds Increase in Psychiatric Disorders in Gay and Lesbian Populations After Gay Marriage Bans

Although the legal and pragmatic ramifications of institutional discrimination against gays and lesbians is frequently discussed in the public arena, the psychological aftermath of anti-gay ballot measures receives less attention. Homosexual populations face elevated rates of alcohol abuse and suicide even in relatively accepting environments, but evidence suggests the rates are exacerbated in areas where bans of same-sex marriage are enacted.  Researchers from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions report increased levels of alcoholism, mood and anxiety disorders in states after constitutional amendments banning gay marriage were passed.  Diagnoses of generalized anxiety disorder increased by over 200 percent.   The March issue of the American Journal of Public Health describes institutional abuse as “societal-level conditions that limit the opportunities and access to resources by socially disadvantaged groups” and describes the importance eradicating institutional discrimination to rectify ”disparities in the mental health and well-being of LGB individuals.”  A report from the American Psychological Association states that the impact on the mental health of GLBT citizens in states that recently passed discriminatory statutes is not attributable to preexisting problems, but is the direct result of the hostile political climate portraying GLBT citizens as subhuman and unworthy of the same rights as heterosexuals.  The APA also found that negative affects were ameliorated in those with stronger social support networks.

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