It’s a hot button issue in the news to be sure – whether or not the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, is constitutional. Today an appeals court in Boston has decided that DOMA discriminates against gay people and that it’s not constitutional.
We’ll be watching the news to see what’s next, and how health insurance coverage factors in, but in the meantime we thought we’d discuss one of the less talked about issues surrounding gay marriage – it’s healthy!
For many gay Americans, the issue of legalizing gay marriage is about so much more than being able to file a joint tax return at the end of the year – it’s about mental and physical health and wellness. The ripple effect of sanctioning gay marriage could improve the health of the gay population in ways you may never have thought of.
As USA Today reported late last year, a study conducted by the American Journal of Public Health concluded that gay men who live in states where same-sex marriage is legal:
- are healthier
- have less stress
- make fewer doctor visits
- have lower heath care costs
The study was based on health statistics among gay men in Massachusetts 12 months after the legalization of gay marriage compared to 12 months prior.
You’ll notice that less stress is highlighted as a positive result in this study. Stress can have a huge impact on anyone’s well-being, gay or straight. However, there are specific stresses that could be lessened among the gay community if full marriage equality existed.
It’s no coincidence that LGBT teens and young adults have one of the highest rates of suicide attempts per year. Being validated and recognized as a dignified segment of the population would instill confidence in our gay youth and build better self esteem and mental wellness in the future.