LGBT+ US citizens became happier and more satisfied with their lives after the Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal.
That’s according to new research from the Williams Institute.
It comes as the US prepares to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v Hodges on 26 June 2015. The case legalized same-sex marriage across the US.
Notably the researchers found the increase in life satisfaction was even higher among LGBT+ people who live in US states that didn’t allow same-sex weddings before the Supreme Court decision.
Andrew Flores is visiting scholar at the Williams Institute. He says the justices’ ruling put LGBT+ people on a level with other US citizens in terms of how they measure their well-being:
‘The ruling alleviated one aspect of structural stigma from LGBT people’s lives. And we see statistically insignificant differences following the ruling between LGBT and non-LGBT people in measures of their well-being.’
The researchers used the Gallup Daily Tracking Well-Being Index Survey.
This shows that before the Supreme Court’s ruling LGBT+ were less happy than other Americans. They also rated their life satisfaction lower than other US citizens.
But those differences more or less disappeared immediately after the ruling.
Before the Obergefell decision, ‘84% of LGBT adults reported feeling happy compared to 89% of non-LGBT adults’. Afterwards, ‘87% of LGBT adults reported feeling happy’.
Likewise, before the ruling, ‘58% of LGBT adults rated their life satisfaction higher-than-average compared to 68% of non-LGBT adults’. But after the ruling, 62% of LGBT+ people said they had ‘higher than average levels of life satisfaction’.
And there’s another important message for LGBT+ campaigners. Homophobes often claim that marriage equality will damage society or somehow harm them.
However, the researchers seem to have busted that myth. They found that straight, cigender adults had the same well-being levels before and after the Supreme Court’s ruling.
It comes after separate research by the Williams Institute showed marriage equality had also boosted the US economy.
They found around 293,000 couples have married since the Supreme Court decision. Moreover, those weddings have generated $3.8billion for the US economy.
But the researchers noted that they didn’t have the right data to look at differences between LGBT+ people on the basis of race, gender or other personal characteristics.
They noted: ‘As a result, these findings may mask differences in well-being among LGBT people, particularly for LGBT people of color, women, transgender people, and other people who are more likely to experience stigma and discrimination.’