But, then there is still North Carolina. Ah, North Carolina, our southern friends who just banned gay marriage. And, even as a native Californian, I still can’t figure out what is going on in California. Recent reports suggest that the infamous Proposition 8 ban may be headed to the Supreme Court.
So, there is still work to be done. Although many U.S. citizens are becoming increasingly open to understanding and tolerance, the public needs to be educated. They need to be familiarized with the data suggesting that LGBT relationships aren’t all that different from straight relationships. Love is love. Jealousy is jealousy. Commitment is commitment. It doesn’t matter much the gender of your partner.
What can you do to help the public understand all of this? Not all of us have the time or energy to be activists. But, there is still something you can do: Contribute to research aiming to understand LGBT relationships.
Unfortunately, very little research has examined LGBT relationships in an attempt to understand relationship dynamics relevant to health and well-being. However, in the midst of ongoing debate about marriage equality, evidence of the potentially health-promoting nature of LGBT relationships needs to be documented. Currently, a large portion of the population relies on inaccurate stereotypes about LGBT relationships. We need research to show how and why those stereotypes are wrong.
If you are looking for an easy (and local) place to start, consider the Couples’ Health Study at Rutgers-Camden (that’s just 5 minutes from downtown Philly). Participants are paid generously for their help and can feel good about contributing to ongoing efforts at Rutgers-Camden to study and educate others about diverse relationships. It is entirely possible that you will find being a part of this study to be fun, interesting and an opportunity to learn more about your partner.
Currently, the Couples’ Health Study is recruiting men in relationships with men. This will add to their research from the past decade that focuses on lesbian and heterosexual couples. Earlier findings have been published in academic journals, presented at national and international scientific meetings, discussed in major media outlets and are accessible by the public at www.ScienceofRelationships.com.
To learn more or to sign up to participate, go to www.HealthyDevelopmentLab.com. If you have questions, email RUHealthyLab@gmail.com.
Dr. Charlotte N. Markey is Associate Professor of Psychology and director, Healthy Development Lab at Rutgers University at Camden.