A new Danish study shows that couples in same-sex marriages are living longer, healthier lives. Men in same-sex marriages have also been found to live longer than men (either straight or gay) who are unmarried or divorced.
"Among men in Denmark, it is more dangerous to be unmarried or divorced than to be married to another man," study researcher Martin Frisch of the Statens Serum Institute in Copenhagen and the Center for Sexology Research of Aalborg University told LiveScience.
Frisch and his colleagues used data from the Denmark's Civil Registration System, which allowed them access to information on 6.5 million Danes between 1982 and 2011. During that time, about 1.7 million of the people in the registry died, allowing the researchers to calculate mortality rates for this period. After controlling for income, demographics, population density, and education, the researchers saw that marriage made an impact.
Since 1989, when same-sex marriage was introduced in Denmark, mortality rates among married gays and lesbians have declined -- especially for the men, LiveScience reports. As of 2011, while men in same-sex marriages were 1.4 times more likely to die during the study period than men in opposite-sex marriages, they were less likely to die than unmarried or divorced men.
Part of the mortality drop for men likely has to do with the development of antiretroviral therapies to treat HIV and AIDS, Fisch told LiveScience. But he also suggested that marriage may help protect against the societal challenges of being gay -- that or healthier gay men may be more likely to enter into marriages.
Still, Frish told LiveScience that gay men and women are still more likely to struggle than their straight counterparts.
Findings were published March 11 in the International Journal of Epidemiology.