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The Rights and Responsibilities of Gay and Lesbian Parents: Legal Developments, Psychological Research, and Policy Implications


*Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Jared Chamberlain, Grant Sawyer Center for Justice Studies, University of Nevada, Reno Mailstop 313, Reno, NV 89557 [e-mail:].


With the growing number of same-sex unions, the legal system must determine the rights and responsibilities of gay parents who decide to end a relationship. In 2005, the California Supreme Court found that a child's lesbian caregiver was a legal “parent” despite having no biological or adoptive relationship, while the Massachusetts Supreme Court in 2004 concluded the opposite. Psychologists can inform this debate by presenting research demonstrating that (a) children benefit from contact with two parents, and (b) children's well-being is unaffected by their parents' sexual orientation. Psychologists can further assist the legal system by conducting future research. In order for psychologists to impact laws and policies, legal actors must utilize this expertise.