A new study finds that the health of gay men who live in states that possess laws permitting same-sex marriage improves their health, whether or not those men choose to marry.
The study, entitled “Effect of Same-Sex Marriage Laws on Health Care Use and Expenditures in Sexual Minority Men: A Quasi-Natural Experiment,” found that the number of times gay men visited local health clinics showed a marked decrease after Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage in 2004.
The BBC reports that researchers from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health compared the need for medical and mental health care among just over 1,200 gay men based in Massachusetts. The men had registered with a particular health clinic during the 12 months prior to same-sex unions being allowed, as well as the 12 months after.
The researchers discovered a 13% reduction in the number of healthcare-related visits among the group after the law was passed. There was a likewise drop in blood pressure-related issues, as well as depression and “adjustment disorders.”
Study leader Dr. Mark Hatzenbuehler told the BBC “Our results suggest that removing these barriers improves the health of gay and bisexual men,” adding that “marriage equality may produce broad public health benefits by reducing the occurrence of stress-related health conditions.”
HealthDay reports that gay women weren’ t included in
the study because there were too few of them who visit the Massachusetts clinic, which was the subject of the research.
Dr. Hatzenbuehler also conducted research between 2006 and 2008 of nearly 32,000 Oregon high school students. The subsequent study, published in April in the journal Pediatrics, showed that both gay and straight teens who live in socially and politically conservative places are more likely to attempt suicide, with the measure of an region’s conservatism reflected in to what degree teens, gay or straight, are likely to try suicide.