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Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-02-22



Forum: Marriage changing gays or gays changing marriage
by Matt Simonette

This article shared 3184 times since Sun Jun 8, 2014
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A forum sponsored by Northwestern University's Family Institute and held at Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted St., June 5 addressed the changing implications of the marriage institution as gays and lesbians gain access to marriage rights.

Taking part in the panel were Dr. Cheryl Rampage, a licensed clinical psychologist and executive vice president of The Family Insitute; Licensed Clinical Psychologist Dr. Aaron Cooper; Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Shayna Goldstein; and research fellow Dr. Steve N. Du Bois. All participants were affiliated with The Family Insitute, which, though it is affiliated with Northwestern, is independent and responsible for its own funding.

Patty Dillon of Equality Illinois, which co-sponsored the panel, was moderator.

Rampage, who has a gay son, said that, for many LGBT individuals, the decision to marry leads to a second "coming out" dynamic as family and friends, who may have struggled to accept that person being gay, might go through the same process to accept that person's relationship.

Rejection of that relationship, Rampage said, can have disastrous implications for the family, not only resulting in the alienation of affections for the gay individual but also sending the message to other members that they too can be cut off for implied transgressions.

"That is why so many gay people have formed 'chosen families,'" Rampage said. "They give the sense of belonging that we all crave."

Cooper admitted that he thought that marriage rights might ultimately undermine relatively unique characteristics of gay male relationships as more gay couples begin to appropriate heteronormative values of fidelity and monogamy.

"I don't think we are hard-wired for sexual monogamy," Cooper said, adding that monogamy was a convention that grew out of the shift from nomadic to agrarian cultures. A large number of gay men choose to be non-monogamous in their primary relationships, and Cooper said that decision often comes along with productive discussions about the couple's expectations of one another.

Cooper, who said that he was non-monogamous in his relationship with his partner of many decades, was asked how he would advise a couple who did choose that monogamy was the right course for them. He answered that there was nothing wrong with that decision, as long as it was mutually agreed upon by both partners: "I think that if two partners want to be monogamous, I say, more power to them. I would not discourage them."

Goldstein focused her comments largely on lesbian couples, and discussed how passion can change over time.

"I would say that, in thinking about the sexual relationships between women, we need to broaden the paradigm that's been defined by male sexuality and heterosexuality. Passion and desire can take many forms; there is no one way of thinking about I," she said, adding that most relationships can go through many stages.

"There will be different strengths and there will be an ebb and flow in intimacy, passion and commitment" Goldstein noted. "It's difficult to quantify what a healthy sexual relationship between women should look like."

Goldstein further suggested that the institutional stability of marriage can bring stability to individual relationships, an idea that has been backed up by Du Bois' research. His work addresses how marriage does seem to lead to more physical health benefits for individuals.

"There's a social support mechanism built into marriage," Du Bois said, also noting that populations in states with gay marriage bans were often less healthy, while populations in states open to marriage equality were usually in better health. He suggested that other negative factors impacting LGBT health, such as higher rates of depression or smoking, might mitigate the long-term benefits of marriage. Nevertheless, he noted, gaining access to marriage rights is tantamount "to gaining access to health care and insurance."

This article shared 3184 times since Sun Jun 8, 2014
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