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Marriage Could Bring Health Bonus to Older Same-Sex Couples

TUESDAY, April 18, 2017 -- The health benefits of tying the knot may extend to couples of all sexual orientations.

A new study shows that older same-sex couples who have married are healthier and happier than their single counterparts.

More than 1,800 LGBT adults, aged 50 and older, were surveyed in 2014 in U.S. states where gay marriage was already legal. It became legal nationwide nearly two years ago.

"In the nearly 50 years since Stonewall, same-sex marriage went from being a pipe dream to a legal quagmire to reality -- and it may be one of the most profound changes to social policy in recent history," said study author Jayn Goldsen. She's a research study supervisor in the University of Washington School of Social Work.

About one-fourth of the respondents were married, another quarter were in a committed relationship, and half were single. Married respondents had spent an average of 23 years together, while those in a committed relationship had spent an average of 16 years as a couple.

More women were married than men, and most of the married respondents were white.

In general, those who were married or in long-term relationships had better physical and mental health, more support and more financial resources than those who were single. Married respondents had an edge on those in long-term relationships, according to the study.

Those who were single were more likely to have a disability; to report lower physical, mental, social and environmental quality of life; and to have experienced the death of a partner, especially among men, researchers said.

The study was published recently in the journal The Gerontologist.

About 2.7 million American adults aged 50 and older identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, and that number is expected to nearly double by 2060, according to the researchers.

After the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, the proportion of cohabitating gay couples who were married rose from 38 percent to 49 percent.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on LGBT health.

Posted: April 2017


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