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Marriage Rights and LGBTQ Youth: The Present and Future Impact of Sexuality Policy Changes


  • Michelle A. Marzullo,

  • Gilbert Herdt


Studying changing attitudes toward marriage rights in the United States, we consider how sexual and gender socialization and changes in values and beliefs regarding homosexuality and marriage influence lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) youth. We begin by presenting the cultural environment of policies, court decisions, and political maneuvers in response to the question of “same-sex” marriage. In this context, we examine fluctuations of public opinion polling from 1989 to 2009. These issues background our main focus, which is to comment on the emerging, positive research on the resiliency, strength, and future aspirations of LGBTQ youth. Such research was begun in the late-1980s with a significant community-based, ethnographic study on LGBTQ youth in Chicago. Although similar studies are being done now, more ethnographic research is necessary to build a catalog of data focused on positive traits in response to a deficiency model used in most psychological research on LGBTQ youth. We end by suggesting ways that psychological anthropologists might fruitfully engage with policy studies and advocates through such research.