With marriage equality finally ruled into federal law (and hopefully staying that way), it’s a beautiful thing to see couples of all shapes, sizes and genders having the ability to tie the knot. While the fight over gay marriage originally focused on civil rights and equality, new research shows that allowing gay couples to marry has more benefits than just love and happiness — it actually makes them healthier.
The study, published in The Gerontologist, involved researchers surveying over 1,800 LGBTQ adults (of all genders) over 50 in the U.S. They found that gay people in a relationship, whether married or in a long-term partnership, showed better health than single people. But people who were married did even better socially and financially than unmarried long-term couples.
What could be at play here? If you’re a gay person in a happy, committed relationship, why does it matter if you haven’t put a ring on it? According to the University of Washington (where the research took place), “The legalization of gay marriage at the federal level opens up access to many benefits, such as tax exemptions and Social Security survivor benefits that married, straight couples have long enjoyed.” Jayn Goldsen, lead study author and researcher at the UW School of Social Work, pointed out that single LGBTQ older adults don’t benefit from other safeguards, such as anti-discrimination laws in employment, housing and public accommodations.
So basically, those marriage benefits that might not seem so important or romantic on paper can actually make a real difference in well-being — and gay couples who choose not to marry miss out on those. That doesn’t mean anyone should tie the knot if it’s not right for them, but if you see marriage in your future anyway, it’s certainly a motivation to make it official when you’re ready. In the meantime, with our current president, we have a lot of work to do to make sure LGBTQ people aren’t the victims of baseless discrimination — married or not.