The Impact Of Gay Marriage On Health

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Hey there Guys,

Today I came across a press release from The American Sociological Society who’s study has revealed that people who are married were over three times more likely to be alive 3 months after heart surgery then those who were single. To quote the release:

“That’s a dramatic difference in survival rates for single people, during the most critical post-operative recovery period,” says Ellen Idler, a sociologist at Emory University and lead author of the study, which appears in the March issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior. “We found that marriage boosted survival whether the patient was a man or a woman.”

While the most striking difference in outcomes occurred during the first three months, the study showed that the strong protective effect of marriage continues for up to five years following coronary artery bypass surgery. Overall, the hazard of mortality is nearly twice as great for unmarried as it is for married patients about to undergo the surgery.

The Huffington Post goes on to report:

This isn’t the first time that research has found that marriage can be good for your health. For years, studies have shown that married people are less likely get the flu, or even die from cancer. A 2009 study by Swedish researchers found that those who are married or partnered in middle age are about 50 percent less likely to develop dementia than those who live alone.

So basically they are saying that companionship is an important predictor to health. What is not clear is if it is marriage  that offers better of health.

Does marriage predict better health outcomes?
Does not being able to marry predict poor health outcomes?

I believe it does.

Surely I am not the only person to feel the sadness and frustration watching the video below.

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For me the impact of living with this frustration has to have an impact on health. Sometime the effects are blatantly obvious. Take my recent holiday with my partner Nick.

When I was travelling with my partner we came to a situation where I needed to take Nick to the hospital. Nothing too extreme however medical attention was required.

While getting the medical attention was fine when it came to talking with the insurance company it was another story. As I had insurance that was part of my American Express credit card we were both covered and this was clarified before we had travelled.

When it came to making the claim though the company was very obstructive and multiple phone calls needed to be made between Australia and Canada. At one point the operator on the other end said: “just so you know you may need to prove you are in a relationship, do you have any evidence that can prove you are in a relationship?”

I was absolutely fucking livid. Thankfully I had over 5 years of Facebook photos, status updates and other “proof” however I explained to the operator that we had been partners for over 11 years and yes I will provide the evidence if required but it would not be done quietly. The operator took what I was saying on board and it was never asked about again.

Had Nick and I been married, civil unionised or even just had some piece of paper that said “shacked up” I would not have had to endure that anger inducing episode. Clearly that has an impact on my health.

Thankfully research very clearly shows there are health benefits from equity in marriage. For an interesting read be sure to check out this post by the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association’s report on same sex marriage and health.

In summary the report shows benefit for gay and lesbian health as well as the children raised by gay and lesbian people.

For the ageing GLBTI population, failure to recognise relationships increase “additional stressors
related to their finances which have the potential to worsen their physical and mental health”. Recognition of gay relationships can help avoid these problems.

In a well written post on ABC’s The Drum professor of economics Lee Badger reports the benefits of gay marriage being not only a positive impact on physical and mental health but also an economic boost to the country.  “Marriage equality would contribute $161 million in new spending to the national economy over three years.” That’s a lot of Tiffany’s wedding rings!

After my post on open relationships I am sure there would be some raised eyebrows about why I would want to consider marriage. While I don’t necessarily want a wedding, I do want equal representation under the law. Currently my partner and I do not have that.

I hope that with the current moves by the Australian government this may be possible.

Currently in there is a survey on gay marriage being undertaken by the House Of Representatives, I urge you to share your thoughts. Click to participate in the survey:
Inquiry into the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2012 and the Marriage Amendment Bill 2012

Share your thoughts, every input is a move towards change.

Yours in good health.

Dr George

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