The authors examined whether the perception of unequal relationship recognition ‐ a novel couple‐level minority stressor ‐ has negative consequences for mental health among same‐sex couples. Data were analyzed from a dyadic study of 100 same‐sex couples (200 individuals) in the United States. Being in a legal marriage was associated with lower perceived unequal recognition and better mental health; being in a registered domestic partnership or civil union—but not also legally married—was associated with greater perceived unequal recognition and worse mental health. Actor partner interdependence models tested associations between legal relationship status, unequal relationship recognition, and mental health (nonspecific psychological distress, depressive symptomatology, and problematic drinking), net controls (age, gender, race and ethnicity, education, and income). Unequal recognition was consistently associated with worse mental health, independent of legal relationship status. Legal changes affecting relationship recognition should not be seen as simple remedies for addressing the mental health effects of institutionalized discrimination.
Journal of Marriage and Family – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
Keywords: ; ; ; ; ;
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