A study out of Denmark is being lauded by the National Organization for Marriage even though they do not appear to understand what it means. NOM, of course, is going to laud anything that makes it seem like they are in the ‘right’ when it comes to same-sex marriage.
The study covers 1982 through 2011, and followed some 6.5 million Danes. According to the study abstract the researchers used “continuously updated individual-level information on living arrangements, socio-demographic covariates and causes of deaths. Hazard ratios (HRs) estimated relative mortality in categories of marital status, cohabitation status and combinations thereof.”
What they found is that from 2000 to 2011, opposite-sex married people had consistently lower mortality than people in any other marital status category. According to the report:
In 2000–2011, opposite-sex married persons had consistently lower mortality than persons in other marital status categories in women and men. Mortality was particularly high for same-sex married women, notably from suicide and cancer, whereas rates for same-sex married men were equal to or lower than those for unmarried, divorced and widowed men. Prior marriages were associated with increased mortality in both women and men.
The study’s abstract concludes that:
Our study provides a detailed account of living arrangements and their associations with mortality over three decades, thus yielding accurate and statistically powerful analyses of public health relevance to countries with marriage and cohabitation patterns comparable to Denmark’s. Of note, mortality among same-sex married men has declined markedly since the mid-1990s and is now at or below that of unmarried, divorced and widowed men, whereas same-sex married women emerge as the group of women with highest and, in recent years, even further increasing mortality.
Now, NOM, of course, presents their commentary and their conclusions which are that “While this is just one study that needs to be supplemented by more research, it does suggest that the health benefits of marriage may be unique to the male-female union. Governments may try to legislate a revised version of ‘marriage,’ but they cannot legislate the health and longevity benefits that come from a man marrying a woman.”
First of all, the study seems to be a correlative one. That is, there seems to be a relationship between A and C, but no explanation of what B is in the middle. The authors do not seem to go into the cause of why A begets C, but they know that A begets C.
Starting with gay men, since their health improved after the passage of same-sex marriage in Denmark, the explanation is probably fairly easy to figure out. Marriage equality has, in other studies, been shown to increase the monogamous tendencies among gay men. Since gay men have a tendency to be more apt to get STD’s, this monogamous tendency means that they are now less likely to get STD’s.
Cancer, however, is not something that is not as easily avoided and it is true that lesbians are at higher risks of getting uterine, ovarian, cervical and breast cancers than straight women. This is something that being married is not going to change significantly enough to change the mortality risks.
Finally, suicides. Despite the expansion of marriage to include same-sex couples in Denmark, the nation is still fairly male-centered, and this creates larger pressures on women to marry men. In fact, part of the problem here is that the societal pressures on women to marry and have children have not abated in Denmark despite the changes in society over the last several decades. This means that women’s self worth is still less than that of men’s self worth.
So, in short, societal pressures tend to lead to more suicides among women who are made to feel like they are ‘broken’ in some manner.
Meanwhile, a study in Australia found that the children of same-sex couples tend to be happier and healthier than those raised by opposite sex couples.
But NOM doesn’t want to talk about that.