Marriage equality is a public health issue, APHA and Whitman-Walker Health wrote in an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court this week. According to the brief, the highest court should reverse a decision from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld same-sex marriage bans in four states.

Supreme Court

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In April, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on same-sex marriage bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. The brief — written by the law firms of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and Hogan Lovells — states that research links bans on same-sex marriage with adverse health effects on lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals.

Additionally, APHA and Whitman-Walker state that the level of stigma against LGB Americans increases through the enactment of exclusionary policies — as do negative health outcomes — with evidence including:

  • gay men and lesbians living in states with less inclusive or protective policies are 2.5 times more likely to suffer from psychiatric disorders such as dysthymia — a form of depression — than their counterparts living in states without such policies, according to one study; and
  • lesbians, gay men and bisexuals living in communities “with high levels of anti-gay prejudice” experienced life expectancies shortened by an average of 12 years, according to another study.

“Based on this robust body of research, the scientific consensus is that marriage contributes to better health and longevity,” the brief states. “And that fact is another compelling reason to reject the judgment of the Court of Appeals.”

APHA and Whitman-Walker also argue that same-sex couples would enjoy equal health benefits of marriage compared to opposite-sex couples.

The case will be argued before the Supreme Court April 28 and a decision is expected in June.

Check out APHA’s full brief in the Obergefell v. Hodges case on the APHA website.