LGBT couples who tie the knot have better physical and mental health, more social support and greater financial resources than those who remain single, a new study has found. For years, studies have linked marriage with happiness among heterosexual couples. Researchers from the University of Washington (UW) in the US are among the first to explore the potential benefits of marriage among LGBT couples. "In the nearly 50 years since Stonewall, same-sex marriage went from being a pipe dream to a legal quagmire to reality - and it may be one of the most profound changes to social policy in recent history," said Jayn Goldsen, research study supervisor in the UW School of Social Work. Some 2.7 million adults ages 50 and older identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender - a number that is expected to nearly double by 2060. Among LGBT people, marriage increased noticeably after a 2015 US Supreme Court ruling legalised same-sex marriage. A 2016 poll found that 49 per cent of cohabiting gay couples were married, up from 38 per cent before the ruling. For the study, more than 1,800 LGBT people, ages 50 and older, were surveyed in 2014 in locations where gay marriage was already legal (32 states and Washington DC). About one-fourth were married, another fourth were in a committed relationship, and half were single. Married respondents had spent an average of 23 years together, while those in a committed, unmarried relationship had spent an average of 16 years. Among the study participants, more women were married than men, and of the respondents who were married, most identified as non-Hispanic white. Researchers found that, in general, participants in a relationship, whether married or in a long-term partnership, showed better health outcomes than those who were single. However, those who were married fared even better, both socially and financially, than couples in unmarried, long-term partnerships. Single LGBT adults were more likely to have a disability; to report lower physical, psychological, social and environmental quality of life; and to have experienced the death of a partner, especially among men. The legalisation of gay marriage opens up access to many benefits, such as tax exemptions and Social Security survivor benefits that married, straight couples have long enjoyed.
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