Legalizing same-sex marriage increased health care access for gay men: Vanderbilt study

Vanderbilt News

Christopher Carpenter (Vanderbilt University)Vanderbilt researchers have documented evidence that legalizing same-sex marriage has improved access to health care for gay men in a study released as a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper this week. This is one of the first studies to examine the effect legal marriage has on the health of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals.
“This is an important question to study, since recent research has shown that LGBT individuals often face barriers to accessing health services including lack of insurance, stigma, and discrimination, and, as a result, can experience poor health outcomes,” said Christopher Carpenter, professor of economics, who led the trans-institutional research team and is the lead author on the paper. “A very large body of research in economics and sociology demonstrates that marriage is protective for health for heterosexual individuals, but ours is the first to show that marriage policy has meaningful effects on health care access for sexual-minority men.”
Carpenter and his colleagues in the departments of economics and medicine, health and society at Vanderbilt University and the department of health policy at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine analyzed 16 years of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a database of information about United States residents’ health-related risk behaviors, chronic health conditions, and use of preventive services.
While the CDC survey did not specifically ask respondents their sexual orientation, the researchers were able to deduce from related responses about household structure that a sizable percentage of adults in households with exactly two same-sex adults are lesbian, gay or bisexual individuals who are likely in same-sex relationships.
Gilbert Gonzales (Vanderbilt University School of Medicine)“We found that lesbian, gay, or bisexual adults were more likely to get married after having access to legal same-sex marriage, and for men, that is associated with a …

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