Distinguished Medical Journal: Marriage Equality Makes Families Healthier

By Kevin OKeeffe

Originally published on Advocate.com April 15 2014 12:10 PM ET

Marriage equality isn't just good for the soul — it's also good for your health.

According to a new article in The New England Journal of Medicine, marriage equality is "a prescription for better health" for families. Citing several studies, the article attributes access to a spouse's health care as the primary reason.

"Public health research has suggested not only that discriminatory environments and bans on same-sex marriage are detrimental to health but also that legalizing same-sex marriage (among other policies expanding protections) contributes to better health for LGBT people," the article reads.

The Institute of Medicine's 2011 report about LGBT health indicated that LGBT people suffer greater "physical and mental health outcomes" than their heterosexual and cisgender counterparts, primarily because of being a part of "a stigmatized minority group." Because of this, access to health care is all the more imperative.

"LGBT people living in states that ban same-sex marriage, for instance," the Journal article reads, "are more likely than their counterparts in other states to report symptoms of depression, anxiety, and alcohol use disorder."

In an essay published on The Daily Beast about the article, Russell Saunders, a pediatrician, cites his own experience as an example of marriage improving both physical and spiritual health.

"I can talk about my family using the same terms and expecting the same respect as anyone else," Saunders says. "There has been a perceptible improvement in my own wellbeing since the state where we live granted us the right to marry."

The Journal article is yet another strong point in favor of marriage equality, which Saunders calls "the right policy from numerous vantage points."

As he summarizes, "It makes America a more equitable and just place to live."

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