I often hear gay marriage supporters speak of how the “benefits” of marriage should be extended to all. And to some extent, I agree. I support legislation that would allow hospital visitations, property arrangements, end-of-life decisions, etc. to be equally applied to same-sex couples. (I believe that redefining marriage redefines parenthood, and therefore oppose gay marriage.) However, according to a new Danish study of 6.5 million persons over 30 years, there are physical benefits that even having the “right” to marry will not confer on same-sex couples.
The study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology reveals elevated mortality rates for all men and women outside of opposite-sex marriage. From the abstract:
Results: HR (hazard ratios) for overall mortality changed markedly over time, most notably for persons in same-sex marriage. In 2000–2011, opposite-sex married persons (reference, HR = 1) had consistently lower mortality than persons in other marital status categories in women (HRs 1.37–1.89) and men (HRs 1.37–1.66). Mortality was particularly high for same-sex married women (HR = 1.89), notably from suicide (HR = 6.40) and cancer (HR = 1.62), whereas rates for same-sex married men (HR = 1.38) were equal to or lower than those for unmarried, divorced and widowed men. Prior marriages (whether opposite-sex or same-sex) were associated with increased mortality in both women and men (HR = 1.16–1.45 per additional prior marriage).
This blogger believes that gender is a real and beautiful phenomenon. It is not a fluid aspect of our person that we “perform” (as some avant-garde activists suggest) or a social characteristic “no more important than the length of one’s neck,” as my queer friend puts it. Gender has a real and beneficial impact in all areas of our life- work, government, marriage, parenting, etc. I have written about the distinct and complementary aspects of having a mother and father involved in parenting here, here and here. In this piece I laid out the unique social-emotional traits of men and women. So it is not surprising that marrying someone who is altogether unlike you would be more beneficial than marrying someone of the same gender, as the above study suggests.
Data such as these aren’t necessarily relevant to the legal (or even the moral) question of same-sex marriage, but go more to the point of heterosexual marriage being a naturally privileged (and therefore uniquely beneficial) relationship – one that can’t be replicated for same-sex partners merely by changing the legal definition of marriage. Governments in many countries and states are legislating a revised version of marriage. What they cannot legislate are the health and longevity benefits that are borne of a man and a woman committing themselves to one another for life.