A number of studies have illustrated the many positive benefits of marriage. Research has shown that married people are less likely to get cancer, less likely to have heart attacks, and also have a lower risk of developing dementia later in life. Studies have also found that married people are less likely to suffer from depression.
However, in the past, all of this research has focused on heterosexual couples. Now, a new study led by researchers from San Francisco State University and UCLA has found that homosexual marriages can offer many of the same benefits.
The researchers relied on data from almost 47,000 LBGT and heterosexual couples. Their findings, which were published in the American Journal of Public Health. showed that both heterosexual and homosexual couples benefited greatly from marriage, and that not straight couples are not the only ones who benefit from tying the knot. In fact, compared to unmarried LGBT couples, LGBT couples who were wed were significantly less likely to suffer from psychological distress or issues such as anxiety and depression.
The findings are crucial for so many reasons. Many people wrongly believe that gay marriage is a ‘non-issue’ and that civil unions and other similar gestures should be enough for homosexual couples. Not only is this bigoted, but it also devalues homosexual couples and cheapens their intimacy and love. And, as this study shows, it also prevents them from being able to access the many benefits of marriage.
Not only are these benefits important from a financial and legal standpoint (health insurance, taxes, and child-rearing are just a few of the areas in which gay couples are maligned and denied basic rights as citizens), but we now know that it denies them emotional and mental benefits as well.
Marriage might be just a slip of paper to some, but to many people, it’s an important and valuable step that validates and solidifies their union. It makes couples into a family, and it offers them love, support, and stability. Therefore, when we deny gay couples the right to marry, we also deny them the right to all of these amazing and joyful benefits.
And from both a symbolical and literal standpoint, in denying gay marriage, we are denying couples the right to be fully realized and valued under the law and in society. Marriage might not be important to everyone, but to millions of gay couples, it is—and this new study shows how destructive our actions can be.
The good news is that we are making steps in the right direction. We are finally beginning to treat gay couples with the dignity, humanity, and respect that they deserve, but we still have a long way to go, and studies such as this help to remind us of why the fight is so important.