Study Suggests Marriage Brings Mental Health Benefits for Same-Sex Couples

A new study - "Same-Sex Legal Marriage and Psychological Well-Being: Findings from the California Health Interview Survey," published in The American Journal of Public Health - suggests that psychological distress is lower among gay, lesbian and bisexual people who are legally married - compared with gay, lesbian and bisexual people who are not in unions respected by their states. 

The press release from the Williams Insitute reads:

A large body of research has shown that lesbian, gay and bisexual people generally experience higher distress levels than heterosexuals due to social exclusion, stigma and other stressors. Research also shows that, on average, married heterosexuals experience better mental health outcomes than their unmarried counterparts. Since most lesbian, gay, and bisexual people are denied the opportunity to legally marry a same-sex partner, they are potentially denied the positive emotional benefits of the institution of marriage and they appear to be dually disadvantaged in terms of their psychological well-being.

"Same-sex or different-sex, there appear to be positive mental health benefits associated with legal recognition of one's relationship," said Wight. "Mental health benefits of extending marriage to same-sex couples might be derived from a heightened sense of social inclusion concomitant with the social institution of marriage."

The study was based on data from the 2009 California Health Interview Survey, the nation's largest population-based state health survey. Respondents between the ages of 18 and 70 were asked about their sexual orientation and same-sex relationship status. The study also included measures of psychological distress and multiple socio-demographic controls.

The study was led by Richard G. Wight from the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and the UCLA Williams Institute. You can read more about it here