Policy Alert

Marriage Equality and Its Impact on Child Wellbeing

Yesterday, the Respect for Marriage Act was codified into law and it will go a long way toward protecting families and promoting child wellbeing. The recognition of same-sex marriages allows children to be raised by loving same-sex parents who are committed to one another and to their children.

It contributes to a stable and supportive home environment for children, which is critical towards their emotional and social development. Furthermore, marriage equality provides children with more legal and financial protections, such as access to health insurance and other benefits, which can help to ensure their physical and financial security.

Denying LGBTQ+ families equal protection under the law sends a harmful message to their children and to society as a whole. It suggests that LGBTQ+ people and their relationships are somehow inferior to those of heterosexual couples, which can lead to feelings of shame, isolation, and discrimination. This can have a negative impact on the mental and emotional well-being of LGBTQ+ parents and their children. Marriage equality can help to reduce stigma and discrimination against LGBTQ+ people. Ultimately, it promotes diversity and inclusivity, which can benefit children by teaching them to be accepting and respectful of others who are different from them. 

Even with the passage of the law, there is still uncertainty. At least one Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States has stated a willingness to revisit the Obergefell ruling, which guaranteed the right of same-sex couples to marry. Should that ruling be overturned, it would validate laws in states like Missouri that prohibit the issuing of marriage licenses to same-sex couples. These states would be required to recognize the marriage licenses from other states. However, same-sex couples who want to get married would have to travel to a state that will issue them a marriage license. 

That said, Respect for Marriage Act is a giant step in the right direction. In order to promote equality and support strong, healthy families, it is important that LGBTQ+ families be given the same respect and protections under the law as any other family. This includes the right to marry, access to benefits and protections, and the ability to make decisions about their children’s lives without fear of discrimination.  


Parker, G. (2022). Marriage Equality and its Impact on Child Wellbeing. St. Louis, MO: Clark-Fox Policy Institute, Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis.