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LGBTQ+ community: Finding same-sex premarital counseling

Updated: Jun 30

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month is celebrated every June in remembrance of the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York's Greenwich Village neighborhood. The Stonewall riots are often known as a turning point for the LGBT movement in the United States. Since then, there have been state and federal efforts to increase equality and safety for the LGBT community. However, the community still faces many obstacles.


FINDING SAME-SEX PREMARITAL COUNSELING CAN BE A CHALLENGE


"My partner and I are getting married this year and would like to receive premarital counseling. We're having some difficulty finding anyone who has the necessary curriculum for gay couples. Do you have any advice? We're feeling a little outcasted in our search for resources."

Up until 2013, marriage was not a federal right for gay couples. The Defense of Marriage Act, passed in 1996 and in effect until 2013, stated same-sex marriages would not be recognized on a federal level, but every state could pass its own laws regarding the issue. In 2003, Massachusetts became the first state to allow same-sex marriage. It wasn't until 2015 that Florida began issuing marriage licenses for same-sex couples. Because of this, services such as premarital counseling for same-sex couples are lacking.


While opposite-sex marriages and same-sex marriages face many of the same challenges, same-sex couples often face the added challenge of lacking familial or social support. A curriculum specifically designed to incorporate a discussion about such challenges is beneficial in same-sex premarital counseling. Premarital counseling is offered by a variety of people and organizations. Therapists often provide same-sex premarital counseling services as part of their practice. You may also be able to find workshops or community programs that use a same-sex premarital counseling curriculum. There are several churches that offer premarital counseling services to same-sex couples as well. Equality Florida (eqfl.org) has compiled a list of resources that may help in your search for therapists or churches. The Unitarian Universalist Church of St. Petersburg and King of Peace Metropolitan Community Church in St. Petersburg are known for offering a multitude of services to the LGBTQ community. The Unitarian Universalist Church has developed a same-sex premarital guide and has posted it on its website (bit.ly/2sqVCQh).


The LGBT movement has come far in the past several decades. Try not to feel discouraged; rather, make your needs known in the community so more services can be established.


Dr. Katie Schubert has master's and doctorate degrees in sociology and gender studies from the University of Florida and a master's degree in clinical mental health counseling from Adams State University in Colorado. She completed her postgraduate studies at Florida Postgraduate Sex Therapy Training Institute and is a certified sex therapist, providing therapy to individuals, couples and families on issues related to sexuality, sex and gender in St. Petersburg. She also is a professor of sociology at the University of Tampa. Contact her at Katie@Cypresswellnesscenter.com

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