A new study shows that marriage significantly lowers psychological distress for people who are gay, lesbian, and bisexual. Researchers note that marriage provides the same “higher perception of social integration and support” for same-sex couples as it does opposite-sex couples. According to the study’s abstract, the benefits of legally recognizing same-sex couples were indistinguishable from the benefits for heterosexuals:
Results. Same-sex married lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons were significantly less distressed than lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons not in a legally recognized relationship; married heterosexuals were significantly less distressed than nonmarried heterosexuals. In adjusted pairwise comparisons, married heterosexuals had the lowest psychological distress, and lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons who were not in legalized relationships had the highest psychological distress (P < .001). Psychological distress was not significantly distinguishable among same-sex married lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons, lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons in registered domestic partnerships, and heterosexuals.
Conclusions.Being in a legally recognized same-sex relationship, marriage in particular, appeared to diminish mental health differentials between heterosexuals and lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons. Researchers must continue to examine potential health benefits of same-sex marriage, which is at least in part a public health issue.
According to study author Allen LeBlanc, the research suggests that policies banning same-sex marriage “may indeed harm sexual minority populations.” Conservatives often boast the importance and benefits of marriage for opposite-sex couples, but it seems gay couples can expect the same from their marriages.