Same-Sex Couples Not As Healthy As Heterosexual Married Couples

  • Share
  • Read Later
Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

When it comes to our health, marriage may be more than just a formality.

A study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior asked same-sex couples who were living together about their health status, and compared their responses to those of heterosexual couples who were married or living together, as well as to people who were divorced, widowed or had never married. The study pooled data from 1,634 women living with same-sex partners and 1,659 men living with their male partners who were part of the National Health Interview Surveys from 1997 to 2009.

Previous research showed that married couples are usually healthier than their non-married counterparts, and the current study confirmed that trend; people in same-sex relationships reported better health than those who were single, but the same-sex partners reported poorer health than heterosexual married couples.

“These same-sex marriage-like relationships represent a very interesting population, not only for politics, but in terms of the health disparities,” says lead study author Hui Liu, an assistant professor of sociology at Michigan State University.

(MORE: Modern Family: More Likely to Be Multigenerational, Unmarried or Interracial)

After controlling for the effect of socioeconomic status of health status, me living in same-sex relationships were 61% more likely to report being in fair or poor health compared to men in heterosexual marriages, and women who were living with their female partners were 46% more likely to report the same lower health status compared to women in heterosexual marriages.

The researchers didn’t find variations among race and gender in their comparison of the same-sex and heterosexual couples overall, but they did find differences when they compared women living in same-sex relationships to single women. Black women who were living with their female partners had worse health than black women in any other non-married status. Conversely, same-sex cohabiting white women had better health than heterosexual cohabiters and divorced white women. Why? The researchers speculate that the lower health quality among black women could be related to the higher amount of homophobia and discrimination they may experience living as lesbians, which may adversely influence their health.

In fact, such societal pressures, and the stress that it causes, may explain in part the poorer health of men and women living with their same-sex partners. Liu even suggests that legalizing same-sex marriage might improve health outcomes for same-sex couples and reduce some health disparities seen in American society as well.

(MORE: More Unwed Couples Are Having Babies)

“Most of those people in the cohabiting relationships cannot be legally married, so they cannot get the resources related to marriage — for example the health insurance benefits from their spouses,” says Liu. “This is not good for their health. It is also possible that the same-sex couples suffer higher levels of discrimination and higher levels of stress which may also effect their physical health.” In other words, it’s not just the health benefits, but the lowered stigma and psychological support that may come from recognizing gay marriage that could lead to better self-reported health.

14 comments
Hadrewsky
Hadrewsky

The average Homosexual is fine morally and Christians can fawn all they want about a religion stolen from earlier religions but the problem here is more complicated.

HIV status continues to plague us from the past... along with that we have a group with an odd extra STD or two... nothing outrageous.


What the real problem here is that the homosexual community aside from a small "buff group" tends to be much overweight and prone to diabetes.... sadly lesbians in particular seem to be the heaviest of all.


It aint what they do in the bedrooms that is hurting them.... it ia not some FALSE Christian morality that they have stolen from others...... the problem is that the homosexual community tends to live a very crappy lifestyle in regards to food and exercise

HarrietHume
HarrietHume

How ridiculous. You find that these people are less healthy and instead of blaming them you blame "homophobia". Homosexuals should take responsibility for their own health and the high-risk lifestyles they lead. Stop blaming us, the majority, for their behaviour!

As logical as blaming the harm of smoking onto "tobacco-phobia". 

Davester
Davester

So if being denied marriage is thought to make homosexual couples mess healthy than heterosexual couples, this study needs to be replicated in a country like Canada that has legalized gay marriage. If the results are the same then we may conclude that it is the lifestyle choices that make homosexual couples more unhealthy. If the results are different, then we may conclude that being denied marriage rights is contributing to poorer health.

punkybrewster1221
punkybrewster1221

not proper physical training, hard to do the horizontal mamba with two @#$%

JujuCosta
JujuCosta

i thought it was about the lifestyle, cause they r more crazy heheheh

well, we r the homosexual couples that r conservative?

IntactivistPark
IntactivistPark like.author.displayName 1 Like

How about we accept and love all people who are harming none and stop stressing them out and stop taxing them unfairly when those in heterosexual marriages are given tax breaks? By the way my spouse has been ill for most of our marriage so I doubt that the stress of  that has helped me to be healthier.

Marrymeknot
Marrymeknot like.author.displayName 1 Like

Interesting article. I think this article shows how important environment and social acceptance is to our health and to the health of our relationships.

janus303
janus303 like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

How can an article about gay health outcomes versus straight health outcomes not mention the terms "HIV" or "AIDS?" To Time and/or the study authors, the plague may be forgotten, but lots of gay married men are dealing with it nonetheless.

Sonn
Sonn

1983 called. They want their AIDS paranoia back.

Did you not get the memo 40 years go that straight people get HIV too? Last I heard hetero women were the fastest growing HIV+ population. Some plague.

janus303
janus303 like.author.displayName 1 Like

@Sonn In the United States, HIV is highly prevalent among gay men, far more prevalent than among straight people. That is a fact. If you think it's bigoted to say so, then you can come to my house and tell my husband that it's really his imagination that he spends $600 a month on Atripla, because gay men don't get HIV anymore. Go do some research. Just because straight people get HIV doesn't mean one quarter of gay men aren't infected. One quarter. That is a fact. Wanna know how I know? 25 years volunteering at the Colorado AIDS Project. Have you ever net anyone with AIDS?

IntactivistPark
IntactivistPark like.author.displayName 1 Like

@janus303As are many straight couples....please remember that everyone can get HIV/AIDS. We must all be wary and support those who need help or medicine for any reason. More research on this topic is welcome anytime.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/05/AR2007030500357.html

janus303
janus303 like.author.displayName 1 Like

@IntactivistPark Not nearly at the same rate. Sorry, but you don't get to diminish the suffering of others by saying "straight people get it too." Straight people do not "get it" unless they work for an AIDS service organization. Research away: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/msm/

epower
epower like.author.displayName 1 Like

Be cautious of the meaning made of the study--one factor often underestimated is the impact of overwhelming experiences, psychological trauma, on long term health.  The  presence of these kinds of events (including intimidation, abuses of different sorts, and fairly ordinary events)  in a person's life (cf http://www.acestudy.org) and the challenges of being a sexual minority may be the culprit rather than the fact of "same-sex couple."  "Do sexual minorities experience more adverse experiences than heterosexuals between birth and 18?" using standard assessments of experiences such as the ACE scoring tool might pain a different picture.