What are the legal benefits of same-sex marriage?

The legal rights of same-sex couples to marry have become a cornerstone of the LGBTQ movement. While many states continue to ban gay marriage, many more are enacting laws allowing same-sex couples to wed. The decision to allow same-sex marriage is often a political battle between pro- and anti-LGBTQ groups. 

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Some states, including California and New York, have allowed gay couples to marry since the 1980s. Others have had no specific policy regarding same-sex marriage. In those cases, employers and private companies were free to extend health, retirement and other benefits to same-sex spouses of employees. 

Same-sex marriage also opens up a wealth of benefits to same-sex families, which can help same-sex parents achieve financial security in their older years. For example, same-sex couples may be eligible to claim a Child and Dependent Care Credit on their federal tax returns. 

In addition, same-sex families are likely to benefit from spousal and survivor benefits offered by Social Security, an important source of income for many people during their retirement years. 

Another important advantage of same-sex marriage is that it helps to bring a small boost to state and local economies. Businesses such as wedding planners, caterers and bakers benefit from the increased demand for their services. 

A February 2015 analysis by the Williams Institute, a think tank focused on LGBTQ issues, found that marriage equality could sustain or create thousands of jobs and generate millions in revenue in states that currently don’t have marriage equality. 

As a result, same-sex couples should be mindful of their family’s financial needs as they consider a potential marriage. They should consult with a professional financial adviser to map out a comprehensive plan for their long-term needs. 

While same-sex marriage has been linked to some positive health outcomes, it’s not clear whether these benefits are solely due to the legal change or if they are also the result of increased acceptance in the LGBTQ community. 

Some studies have shown that internalized homophobia is linked to poor health outcomes, such as depression and substance use. This can be a barrier to health for some members of the LGBT population, says David Mayer, senior director of health equity at Fenway Institute. 

However, research is also showing that the legal changes to same-sex marriage are likely contributing to larger shifts in attitudes and acceptance of the LGBT community overall. 

The societal benefits of same-sex marriage are many, and they range from financial and emotional to health and wellness. Some of these benefits include a significant economic boost, an improved sense of self-confidence and access to many government benefits that can make the lives of same-sex couples easier. 

As a final note, same-sex marriage also has a positive impact on the health of the children involved in the union. In addition, it can help to reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect in the home. This is because children in same-sex homes are less likely to be exposed to drugs, alcohol and violence.