American Foundation for Equal Rights

Marriage News Blog

Witness Testimony: Letitia Anne Peplau

On the third day of trial, UCLA psychology professor Letitia Anne Peplau testified about benefits of marriage for gay and lesbian couples.  She explained that marriage equality would help gay and lesbian couples and their children, while having no negative impact on stability of marriage as an institution.

Professor Peplau is the co-author of Social Psychology, an text book used in many introduction to social psychology classes, now in its twelfth edition.

Testimony Highlights

“[I]t is very hard for me to imagine that you would have a happily-married couple who would say, ‘Gertrude, we’ve been married for 30 years, but I think we have to throw in the towel because Adam and Stuart down the block got married.’”


“I think [marriage equality] would have no impact on the stability of heterosexual marriages.”


“We know a lot about factors that lead relationships to fall apart. The immediate cause is, usually, that the couples are having conflict; they are arguing; the relationship has gone sour. If they are not arguing, it feels empty. They feel that their needs are not being met in the relationship. They are very personal reasons for getting divorced.

“We also know that some of the people who are at greater risk of divorce, people with low levels of education, people who are poor, whose relationships are under great stress and may not have the resources to meet those stress.”


“There is a very large body of research on the impact for heterosexuals of marriage on health.  These are studies that have compared the health of married individuals to the health of other adults who are not married.

“And the very consistent findings from th[at] research are that, on average, married individuals fare better.  They are physically healthier.  They tend to live longer. They engage in fewer risky behaviors. They look better on measures of psychological well-being.”


“I would predict that in states in the United States that permit same-sex marriage, that we would not see any change either in the rate of people getting married or in the rate of people getting divorced.”


“[T]he consistent finding, time and again, has been that, on average, same-sex couples and heterosexual couples are indistinguishable.”


“[R]esearchers have been able to rely on large-scale surveys, some of them now representative surveys, that address this question, and that have really provided evidence that a substantial proportion of lesbians and gay men are in relationships, that many of those relationships are long-term.”


“My opinion, based on the great similarities that have been documented between same-sex couples and heterosexual couples, is th[at] if same-sex couples were permitted to marry, that they also would enjoy the same benefits [from marriage].”


“I have great confidence that some of the things that come from marriage, believing that you are part of the first class kind of relationship in this country, that you are … in the status of relationships that this society most values, most esteems, considers the most legitimate and the most appropriate, undoubtedly has benefits that are not part of domestic partnerships.”


“I really believe that we know a lot about the impact that stigma and being second class have on people and have on relationships.


“And, it seems to me, that being prevented by the government from being married is no different than other kinds of stigma and discrimination that have been studied, in terms of their impact on relationships.”


“Civil unions, without question … are not equivalent to marriage.