Gay men's health improves when their state legalizes same-sex marriage, a new study finds.
The results showed gay and bisexual men in Massachusetts had significant fewer medical- and mental-health-care visits, and lower mental-health-care costs in the year after the state legalized gay marriage, compared with the previous year.
This amounted to a 13-percent reduction in total health-care visits, and a 14-percent reduction in health-care costs for this group. The reductions were similar for partnered and single gay men.
Previous research has shown that excluding lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals from marriage has a stressful impact on this population, according to the study.
There were also reductions in cases of hypertension and depression, according to the study. Both conditions are associated with stress.
The findings suggest that legalizing same-sex marriage could benefit public health "by reducing the occurrence of stress-related health conditions in gay and bisexual men," said study researcher Mark Hatzenbuehler, of Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health.
However, among HIV-positive men, there was no reduction in HIV-related visits, suggesting that those in need of HIV/AIDS care continued to seek needed health-care services, the researchers said.
The researchers surveyed 1,211 patients from a large, community-based health clinic in Massachusetts that focuses on serving these groups.
Because the clinic was in a large metropolitan city, these results may not be generalized among people living in more-rural communities, the researchers said.
The study is published online today (Dec. 15) in the American Journal of Public Health.
Pass it on: Legalization of same sex marriages may improve the health of gay men.