We at Sage Neuroscience Center see the struggles and difficulties our LGBT community in New Mexico endures on a daily basis. As an outpatient mental health clinic, we witness the harmful impact discrimination can have on a person’s life. For this reason, we are especially proud of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling today that gives same-sex couples the constitutional right to legally marry in all 50 states.
The majority opinion, written by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, accentuated the fundamental right gay and lesbian couples have to marry. He highlights the deep union of marriage, applauding the decision of two people becoming one entity to uphold the “highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family.” Justice Kennedy goes on to say gay and lesbian couples cannot possibly disrespect the concept of marriage. Instead, “Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”
With over 80 Thousand New Mexicans in the LGBT population, Justice Kennedy’s words ring that much louder for our community. Our mission here at Sage is to make every single person who walks through our doors feel seen, heard, and valued no matter the race, religion, age, identified gender, or sexual orientation.
New Mexicans in the LGBT community come from all walks of life. According to the New Mexico Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Report (2013):
- Among people who identify as gay or lesbian, 9% are between 18 and 24 years old, 34% are in the 25-34 age range, 12% are 35-44, 22.9% are 45-54, 16% are 55-64 and 7% are aged 65 or older. This is compared to 47% of people who identify as bisexual who are 18-24 years old, 22% are 25-34, 6% are 35-44, 9% are 45-54, 8% who are 55-64, and 8.5% are aged 65 or older.
In NM, lesbian and gay adults are more likely to have a college education than straight adults (41% compared to 33%). Bisexual and straight individuals had similar rates of educational achievement.
- Lesbian and gay adults have similar household incomes as straight adults. Lesbian women were more likely to have an income of $50,000 or greater compared to straight women.
- Lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults have similar racial/ethnic profiles as straight adults in New Mexico.
- Only 4% of lesbian and gay adults and 22% of bisexual adults are married compared to almost 60% of straight adults who are married, which makes today’s national ruling that much more poignant.
Mental health disparities between LGBT individuals and straight individuals highlight the significance of this historic day. Lesbian and gay adults in NM are more than twice as likely to report having attempted suicide as straight adults. Bisexual adults report having attempted suicide at four times the rate of straight adults. LGBT adults are also more likely to have ever been diagnosed with depression and anxiety.
The Supreme Court ruling that a ban against same-sex marriage is unconstitutional gives people in the LGBT community validation they are no different than anyone else. Hopefully, this empowerment of national acceptance will reduce the risk of developing mental health issues. In Justice Kennedy’s words, the dynamic of marriage “allows two people to find a life that could not be found alone, for a marriage becomes greater than just the two persons. Rising from the most basic human needs, marriage is essential to our most profound hopes and aspirations.”
Sage celebrates this momentous day not only for our patient population, but for our community, country, and our world.