Same-sex couples that live together report worse health than people of the same socioeconomic status who are in heterosexual marriages, according to a national study that could have implications for the gay marriage debate.
Research has shown that married people are healthier than the unmarried. Yet, while gay marriage is gaining support in Michigan and around the country, most same-sex cohabiters do not have the option of legally marrying their partners, noted Hui Liu, Michigan State University sociologist and lead investigator on the study.
While Liu's research does not directly assess the potential health consequences of legalizing same-sex marriage, she said it's plausible that allowing same-sex couples to legally wed could improve their health.
"Legalizing same-sex marriage," Liu said, "could provide the benefits associated with marriage - such as partner health-insurance benefits and increased social and psychological support - which may directly and indirectly influence the health of people in same-sex unions."
For the study, which appears in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Liu and colleagues analyzed the self-reported health of nearly 700,000 participants in the 1997-2009 National Health Interview Surveys. About 3,330 men and women are identified as same-sex cohabiters in the study.