How Marriage Equality Is Good For Public Health

President Obama came out in support of marriage equality on Wednesday, saying that it was important to him to “go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.” His position is also good for public health. Studies have shown that legalizing same-sex marriage helps improve mental health. In one Massachusetts study, it led to fewer visits to health clinics, and all gay men saw benefits, according to the Los Angeles Times:

A study published in February by the American Journal of Public Health found that gay men in Massachusetts were in better physical and mental health after that state became the first to recognize same-sex marriage in 2003. Researchers examined the medical records of 1,211 gay and bisexual men who went to “a large, community-based health clinic” in a “large metropolitan city” and compared the patients’ use of medical services before and after the law went into effect. […]

Overall, the number of visits to the clinic fell by 13% after gay marriage was legalized — and both partnered and single gay men benefited, the researchers found. “One mechanism that may explain these findings is a reduction in the amount and frequency of status-based stressors that sexual minority men experience when institutionalized forms of stigma are eliminated,” they wrote.

Researchers in California found that married gay men were more relaxed and less depressed than gay men in domestic partnerships. And legally married same-sex couples rely on welfare less than single people, according to another Massachusetts study. “Marriage appears to confer a number of benefits, psychological and otherwise,” Letitia Anne Peplau, a social psychologist at UCLA, told Science. “There isn’t anything in the scientific literature that suggests that gay or lesbian people would benefit less or differently than heterosexual people from access to the institution of marriage.”