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Why gay marriage is good for a person’s mental health

Carlos McKnight, 17, of Washington, holds up a flag in support of gay marriage outside of the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday June 26, 2015. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
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Before gay marriage became the law of the land in the United States with the Supreme Court's decision Friday morning, researchers had examined how bans on same-sex marriage affected the mental health of gay partners: It wasn't good.

In 2010, a study conducted by Columbia University psychologist Mark Hatzenbuehler and sponsored in part by the National Institutes of Health, found that gay people living in states  where same-sex marriage was banned suffered from several psychiatric disorders at a much higher rate than gay people living in states where same-sex marriage was legal.

[Gay marriage is good for your mental health]

Perhaps not surprisingly, anxiety disorders topped the list, with a whopping 248 percent increase in lesbian, gay and bisexual people living in states without gay marriage rights.

At the time of the study, Hatzenbuehler and his co-authors wrote that "creating constitutional amendments banning gay marriage reinforced the marginalized and socially devalued status of LGB individuals. Moreover, the negative political campaigns against gays and lesbians by proponents of these amendments, which were well circulated in the media, further promulgated the stigma associated with homosexuality.”

The researchers concluded that “living in states with discriminatory policies may have pernicious consequences for the mental health of LGB populations."

Five years later, President Obama stood in the Rose Garden within an hour of the Supreme Court's historic decision and noted that "we've made our union a little more perfect."

Likewise, a  2009 California Health Interview Survey, the largest population-based state health survey in the country, found that psychological stress was lower among gays, lesbians and bisexuals living in a state that legally recognizes same-sex marriages, compared to gays, lesbians and bisexuals living in states where it was banned.

The bottom line? Today, America can count one mental health problem hopefully diminished, courtesy of the U.S. Supreme Court.

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