The American Academy of Pediatrics, which represents more than 60,000 professionals, for the first time has endorsed gay marriage, saying it is in the best interest of the children of gay parents.

The academy reviewed more than 60 scientific studies on the subject over the past four years, and the result is a 10-page report which concludes that such unions help guarantee rights, benefits and long-term security for children.

“There is an emerging consensus, based on extensive review of the scientific literature, that children growing up in households headed by gay men or lesbians are not disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents,” the academy said.

Dr. Nanette Gartrell, who led a 2010 study which looked at the outcomes of children raised by lesbian parents, told The New York Times that “Marriage strengthens families and benefits child development, and it also increases a parent's sense of competence and security when they are able to raise children without stigma.”

Dr. Ellen Perrin, a co-author of the academy's new policy and a professor of pediatrics at Tufts University School of Medicine, added that divorce is a critically overlooked component of marriage.

“If people can't get married, then they can't get divorce,” Dr. Perrin said. “That legal system that exists to protect our most vulnerable, namely children, isn't in play.”