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Am J Public Health. 2013 Feb;103(2):339-46. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2012.301113. Epub 2012 Dec 13.

Same-sex legal marriage and psychological well-being: findings from the California Health Interview Survey.

Author information

  • 1Department of Community Health Sciences, Fielding School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1772, USA. rwight@ucla.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

We examined whether same-sex marriage was associated with nonspecific psychological distress among self-identified lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults, and whether it had the potential to offset mental health disparities between lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons and heterosexuals.

METHODS:

Population-based data (weighted) were from the 2009 adult (aged 18-70 years) California Health Interview Survey. Within-group analysis of lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons included 1166 individuals (weighted proportion = 3.15%); within-group heterosexual analysis included 35 608 individuals (weighted proportion = 96.58%); and pooled analysis of lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons and heterosexuals included 36 774 individuals.

RESULTS:

Same-sex married lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons were significantly less distressed than lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons not in a legally recognized relationship; married heterosexuals were significantly less distressed than nonmarried heterosexuals. In adjusted pairwise comparisons, married heterosexuals had the lowest psychological distress, and lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons who were not in legalized relationships had the highest psychological distress (P < .001). Psychological distress was not significantly distinguishable among same-sex married lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons, lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons in registered domestic partnerships, and heterosexuals.

CONCLUSIONS:

Being in a legally recognized same-sex relationship, marriage in particular, appeared to diminish mental health differentials between heterosexuals and lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons. Researchers must continue to examine potential health benefits of same-sex marriage, which is at least in part a public health issue.

PMID:
23237155
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3558785
Free PMC Article
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