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


Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to M. V. Lee Badgett, CPPA, Gordon Hall, 418 N. Pleasant Street, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA 01002 [e-mail:].


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.