DETROIT (WWJ) Is living together bad for a gay couple's health? It could be, according to a new study in the "Journal of Health and Social Behavior."
A study by Michigan State University sociologist Hui Liu found same-sex couples who live together experience poorer health than married people of different sex.
"If you compare with different sex married people, the same-sex people have worse health ... no matter which risk group you talk about," Liu said.
She added the odds of gay men living together reporting poor health was 61 percent higher than their married male counterparts. For gay women, it was 46 percent.
What's the takeaway? It's not whether someone is gay that matters, Liu said, it's whether they're married. Married people report better health overall.
"Legalization of same-sex marriage may promote the health of same-sex couples," Liu said.
Liu and colleagues analyzed the health of nearly 700,000 participants in the 1997-2009 National Health Interview Surveys. About 3,330 men and women were identified as same-sex cohabiters, according to the Journal article.
The poor health crossed all spectrums, including socioeconomic status, race, sex, education, income and insurance.
Liu said the bottom line is that marriage promotes health.
"If marriage can promote health then it's reasonable for us to expect that if we allow same-sex couples to get married they may get the benefits associated with marriage," the sociologist said.
Liu said research said "out" gay people who cohabitate could experience extra stress from discrimination -- and its resulting health impacts.
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