Marriage Equality: Gay Couples in Legalized Unions Are Happier

Legal recognition of relationships may improve mental health

A new study proves both same-sex couples and heterosexual couples benefit from marriage.

A study published by the American Journal of Public Health finds married gay couples have less psychological distress than non-married same-sex couples.

Researchers surveyed 47,000 hetero- and homosexual men and women about their well-being, relationship status and demographic as part of the 2009 California Health Interview Survey — before Proposition 8. They concluded that marriage, for gay and straight participants, reduced feelings of nervousness, hopelessness and depression.

While this shouldn't be a surprise since heterosexual marriage has been linked to better mental health for some time now, it's an important study to come out now as the Supreme Court has just agreed to take up the constitutionality of same-sex marriage in the spring.

Seeing how legalizing a relationship can affect one's mental health is significant — especially since research has shown that members of the LGBT community experience higher distress levels than heterosexuals due to social exclusion.

University of California, Los Angeles, public health researcher Richard Wight, who led the study, initially expected different results given the discrimination gay couples face. "I think it's reasonable to think that legally blocking people from marriage can put their mental health at risk," he told LiveScience.

Could this be what the Supreme Court and same-sex marriage opponents need to hear? Along with other victories in marriage equality this year, this feels like a step in the right direction.

What do you think? Do you agree that legalizing a relationship can boost mental health?

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