There are many ways to boost the sexual health of a community, from encouraging safer sex practices to offering courses on ways to prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). According to a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health, gay men who live in states where same-sex marriage is legal are healthier, and this translates into reduced healthcare costs for their area. “Our results suggest that removing these barriers improves the health of gay and bisexual men,” said Mark L. Hatzenbuehler, PhD, lead author of the study and a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.
Researchers followed gay and bisexual men in Massachusetts for 12 months after gay marriage was legalized in the state. They found that this population saw a significant decrease in a need for mental and medical healthcare visits, resulting in a 14 percent reduction in statewide healthcare costs.
The scientists examined a large health clinic in Massachusetts to come to their conclusion. While examining the facility’s billing records, the researchers also noticed a reduction in the number of people reporting experiencing hypertension, depression and adjustment disorders since gay marriage was legalized. These are all conditions that are associated with stress, suggesting that gaining recognition of their unions in the eyes of the state has led to gay men experiencing less anxiety.
These finding complement past studies that discovered that excluding gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender individuals from marriage laws causes stress among this population. This is an interesting way to frame a controversial subject that has many people divided. Examining gay marriage from an economic standpoint brings a new facet into focus.