STUDY: Straight, Married Couples Healthier Than Gay Couples Who Live Together

str8-v-gay-couplesAccording to a new study from Michigan State University, heterosexual married couples reported being healthier than same-sex couples who live together — suggesting that the legalization of gay marriage could resolve the disparities.

“When we controlled for socioeconomic status, the odds of reporting poor or fair health were about 61 percent higher for same-sex cohabiting men than for men in heterosexual marriage, and the odds of reporting poor to fair health were about 46 percent higher for same-sex cohabiting women than for women in heterosexual marriages,” said Dr. Hui Liu, an assistant professor of sociology at MSU.

The study was published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior and compared the health of over 3,000 couples, including 1,659 gay couples living together and their married heterosexual counterparts. Liu and her associates used information gathered from 1997 to 2009 National Health Interview Surveys, in which people across the country were asked to rate their overall health on a scale from “excellent” to “poor.”

The study suggests ongoing discrimination may account for the differences. The Atlantic reports:

Among all black women, those in same-sex cohabitating relationships had the worst reported health, while gay white women were healthier than straight white women who were either divorced or living with a male partner. This effect wasn’t seen for men, and points to the possibility of what the authors call a “triple jeopardy”: social stress caused by their sexuality, added on to that experienced by racial minorities and women in general, all could be contributing to their poor health.

While the study didn’t analyze the effect of legalizing gay marriage, the author speculates that it might be the key to improving the health of same-sex couples.

“If marriage can promote health, it is reasonable for us to expect that if same-sex couples had the advantage of legalized marriage their health may be boosted,” Liu said. “Legalizing same-sex marriage could also provide other advantages often associated with heterosexual marriage — such as partner health insurance benefits and the ability to file joint tax returns — that may directly or indirectly influence the health of individuals in same-sex unions.”

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  • MikeE

    another completely pointless “study” that comes to a conclusion not supported by the study.

    if they wanted to compare, it should have been only married heterosexual couples with “shacked up” heterosexual couples, or married gay couples with cohabiting gay couples.

    By comparing married straights with unmarried gays they are complicating the issue with completely unrelated issues that gays have to deal with, which straights don’t.

  • alexoloughlin

    This study makes no sense. What about unmarried hetero couples living together? How can this study make a conclusion without including them?

  • 1EqualityUSA

    It’s not supposed to make sense. It’s supposed to give people permission to go on discriminating against a community targeted for hate.

  • GayTampaCowboy

    REALLY? This is news? I’m not trying to be too sarcastic, but anyone who knows gay
    couples in an LTR know that most DO struggle with issues regarding healthcare.
    Specifically, spousal healthcare benefits that hetero couples get through an employer
    just for being married. While we’d like to believe that healthcare professionals can
    shelve their personal morals when working with a patient, that’s just not the case
    when it comes to gay folks. And that really speaks directly to how healthcare is
    dispensed today. Think about it. If you don’t have a primary care physician, how
    likely are you to share your healthcare needs/concerns/symptoms with a physician who’s a total stranger? Think about the questions a Dr. has to ask when going to diagnose an

    SO, many gay folks ignore symptoms out of fear of having to discuss their lifestyle,
    again, in the closet or not. That stress CLEARLY manifest’s itself in higher stress
    and strained immune system.

    I think this is as much about healthcare as it is about the overall “health” of a
    person or couple.

    just my 2 cents

  • lemon-lime

    All of you need to stop, take a deep breath and read the original article again. There have been studies for may of the different possible permutation of couplings. Unmarried hetero couples, married hetero, single hetero, unmarried gay couples, single gays, etc. There are already studies showing: “that married couples enjoy better health than people who are single, divorced or separated,” generally.

    This study was the first to look directly at the health effects of being unmarried gay couples vs. married heterosexual couples.

    It’s just one data point among all the permutations they could be comparing. Everybody breathe. It’s OK.

    This is news because it’s hard data to support our cause. IE: We know married straight couples are healthier than unmarried straight couples. We know that married straight couples are healthier than their unmarried gay counterpart. Regardless of whether unmarried straight couples are healthier or less healthy than unmarried gay couples, this study suggests that there’s an opportunity for increased health benefits simple from opening the institution of marriage to gay couples. Empirically.

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