As a practicing physician for the past 30 years, I know one fact to be true: Marriage benefits the family. On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision making same-sex marriage legal in all 50 U.S. states extended this benefit to all Americans.
I have worked in very busy medical centers, and I have seen numerous patients take on debilitating health problems by themselves. Many times, their isolation makes things much more difficult.
To have a support system through marriage means the world when you’re sick. It means you have someone to listen to your problems, to offer advice; and, ultimately, to be an advocate for your health.
If we look at some of the health benefits of marriage, we find that married individuals recover better after surgery, are less likely to have heart attacks, and are more likely to live longer and be healthier overall. Also, a study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that married gay and lesbian couples are much more likely to have better mental health than their unwed counterparts.
And marriage isn’t only valuable for the individuals involved, as its health benefits extend to the rest of the family. The American Academy of Pediatrics has declared children thrive when they have two married parents who love them and can provide them with a nurturing environment, irrespective of the parents’ sexual orientation. More recently, another study co-authored by a University of Oregon professor came to the same conclusion. The new research, which looked at 19,000 studies and articles related to same-sex parenting from 1977 to 2013, said that children raised by same-sex couples are no worse off than children raised by parents of the opposite sex.
In my specialty, I see the power marriage can have in bringing new life into this world. I have delivered babies for heterosexual couples, as well as babies for many lesbian couples. Regardless of a couple’s sexual orientation, the beauty of a newborn child is equally astounding to everyone.
I had applauded the Supreme Court for striking down the Defense of Marriage Act and essentially overturning Proposition 8, and now I'm applauding them for declaring same-sex marriage legal in all 50 U.S. states. Marriage equality is healthy for our society, period. This is especially true for our children. Isolation and inequality are detrimental to our health, ultimately bringing about depression, sadness and anxiety.
I am glad we are making the world a more equal and joyful place because, consequently, we are making it a healthier one as well.