The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has issued an endorsement of marriage equality. The College says legalizing gay marriage benefits women’s health.
“As ob-gyns, we must be strong advocates for all of our patients’ health and well-being,” said Jeanne A. Conry, president of The College. “We know that access to health care and the health of women and their families is tied to financial security. Marriage helps provide this financial security for many women, regardless of sexual orientation.”
Some of these financial protections include access to Social Security benefits and rights to shared property.
In addition to providing financial security, marriage equality has other important health benefits, according to The College. Studies show that same-sex couples in states that legally recognize their marriages have lower levels of stress and fewer mental health and substance abuse issues compared with same-sex couples who live in non-equality states.
Unmarried same-sex couples also are less likely to receive employer-sponsored dependent health care coverage compared with married heterosexual couples and, thus, are more than twice as likely to be uninsured, said a statement from The College.
“This has real consequences for our lesbian patients,” Conry said. “When women don’t have health insurance, they may not get screened for cervical and breast cancer or receive other important well-woman care."
The College said the Supreme Court's ruling in the Windsor case, which struck down the provision in the Defense of Marriage Act that barred married gay couples from federal benefits, is wider access to the federal Family Medical Leave Act. Under FMLA, individuals in same-sex marriages living in states that legally recognize their marriages can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year to care for immediate family members.
Conry said, “As a society, we have made enormous progress, but we won’t have full marriage equality until same-sex marriage is legal in every state."