Discrimination, stigma offer disadvantage.
Researchers at Houston's Rice University say married heterosexual couples have better overall health than same-sex couples.
The study's lead author believes the findings really kick start the conversation about gay marriage because same-sex couples are typically better educated, earn more money and have more resources than opposite-sex couples who are married.
“There are certainly some psychological elements to it,” Dr. Justin Denney tells KTRH News. “Basically, being disallowed to do something, especially something we know is generally good for health and well being can't be a good thing. The other thing marriage does is it allows you to more easily share the resources you have.
Denney says it appears gay couples experience the same problems many minority couples do.
“Some of that is due to the experience of discrimination and stigma in daily life,” he says. “We have a hunch that may in fact have something to do with this sort of residual disadvantage among same-sex cohabiters.”
Denney believes his group's findings really opens the door to further investigation into whether same-sex marriages would lead to better health among gays.
Unlike a recent study from the University of Texas which compared the health and welfare of children raised by heterosexual and gay couples, Denney insists his research was not funded by outside sources.
According to a press release, the study is based on survey responses of self-rated health from the National Health Interview Survey, which monitors the country's health by collecting data on a broad range of health topics through personal household interviews.
The data was collected between 1997 and 2008 and comes from interviews with approximately 3,200 unmarried individuals living in cohabiting same-sex relationships, 20,000 unmarried individuals in cohabiting opposite-sex relationships and 400,000 individuals in married opposite-sex relationships.