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Researchers: Marriage Bans Cause Psychological Harm

by Sergio N. Candido
Saturday May 25, 2013

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health are awaiting the Supreme Court decisions on gay marriage cases this June for scientific reasons - they want to study the psychological impact (whether positive or negative) of the outcome.

In 2010, Mark Hatzenbuehler, a psychologist at Columbia University who studies the health effects of social policies, and a group of researchers published a study concluding that gay marriage bans in 2004 and 2005 had increased the number of anxiety disorders among the LGBT population among 2.7 percent to 9.4 percent, according to NPR.

"Lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals who lived in the states that banned same-sex marriage experienced a significant increase in psychiatric disorders," Hatzenbuehler said.

The researchers conducted surveys of 43,093 Americans just before the state bans; then resurveyed 34,653 of the original respondents after the bans were established.

"There was a 37 percent increase in mood disorders," he says, "a 42 percent increase in alcohol-use disorders, and - I think really strikingly - a 248 percent increase in generalized anxiety disorders."

The study also found that in states like Massachusetts, where gay marriage was legalized, gay men experienced fewer stress-related disorders after the law was passed.

"We showed the psychiatric disorders did not increase in lesbian, gay and bisexual populations in states that didn't debate and vote on same-sex marriages," Hatzenbuehler added. "There were also no increases - or much smaller increases - among heterosexuals living in the states that passed same-sex marriage bans."

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