John M. Becker

Report: Marriage Equality is Good for Family Health

Filed By John M. Becker | April 15, 2014 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: gay marriage, health care, health disparities, healthcare, LGBT healthcare, marriage equality, public health, same-sex marriage

According to an article published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine -- an esteemed academic publication that's the world's oldest peer-reviewed medical journal -- marriage equality is good for public health, as it results in better health care and less anxiety, depression, and other negative health outcomes for families headed by same-sex parents.

Author Gilbert Gonzalez, MHA, notes that a 2011 report from the Institute of Medicine found that LGBT people face significant health disparities and poorer health outcomes "largely as a result of the stress caused by being a member of a stigmatized minority group or because of discrimination due to sexual orientation or gender nonconformity":

Discriminatory environments and public policies stigmatize LGBT people and engender feelings of rejection, shame, and low self-esteem, which can negatively affect people's health-related behavior as well as their mental health. LGBT people living in states that ban same-sex marriage, for instance, are more likely than their counterparts in other states to report symptoms of depression, anxiety, and alcohol use disorder.

Gonzalez then points out that marriage equality and other public policies expanding protections for LGBT people contribute to markedly better health outcomes. In Massachusetts and California, for example, studies show that marriage equality reduced psychological distress among married LGB adults and led to fewer mental health expenditures for gay men.

He also notes that legalizing same-sex marriage often allows LGB people to cover their same-sex spouses and their children under their employer-sponsored health insurance plan. "[D]isparities in insurance coverage are narrower in states that permit same-sex marriage or civil unions that guarantee complete spousal rights to same-sex couples," Gonzalez writes.

He concludes:

Same-sex marriage, therefore, remains an important health policy issue and relevant to the public policy goal of expanding access to health care through employer-sponsored health plans... I believe that the health benefits associated with same-sex marriage should be considered in the ongoing debates occurring in legislative chambers, election contests, and federal and state courtrooms.

There you have it, folks: marriage equality is a public health good.

h/t: David Badash, The New Civil Rights Movement.

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