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Legal Unions, Including Marriage, Boost Mental Health for Gay People: Study
Date:12/13/2012

By Barbara Bronson Gray
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Dec. 13 (HealthDay News) -- As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to enter the debate about gay marriage, a new study suggests that being in a legally recognized relationship of any kind may reduce feelings of nervousness, hopelessness and depression.

"We have established that there is a fundamental association between having a legal relationship and greater psychological health," said study author Richard Wight, an associate researcher in the department of community health sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Public Health.

Wight noted, however, that to reap the psychological benefits of a legally recognized relationship, marriage does not seem to be necessary. "Same-sex marriage is a somewhat better predictor of psychological health, but there is no statistical difference between those who are married and those who are in registered domestic partnerships," he said.

For some gay couples, Wight said achieving marital status feels like being a pioneer, breaking new ground and establishing a sense of equality for others. "For heterosexual couples, the rationale for marriage is broadly more economic resources, acknowledgment of the relationship and integration into the community," he said. "For same-sex couples, it's all that, plus it's reducing the stigmatization [from society]."

In November, Maine, Maryland and Washington became the first states to approve gay marriage at the ballot box. Six other states and the District of Columbia have authorized gay marriage through judicial rulings and legislation. The U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule next year on the constitutionality of the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act and California's Proposition 8.

In California, same-sex marriage was allowed in June 2008, but Proposition 8 overturned the right five months later. In 2010, the proposition was overturned by a U.S. District Co
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