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In sickness and in health: Same-sex marriage laws and sexually transmitted infections

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  • Francis, Andrew M.
  • Mialon, Hugo M.
  • Peng, Handie

Abstract

This paper analyzes the relationship between same-sex marriage laws and sexually transmitted infections in the United States using state-level data from 1981 to 2008. We hypothesize that same-sex marriage laws may directly affect risky homosexual behavior; may affect or mirror social attitudes toward gays, which in turn may affect homosexual behavior; and may affect or mirror attitudes toward non-marital sex, which may affect risky heterosexual behavior. Our findings may be summarized as follows. Laws banning same-sex marriage are unrelated to gonorrhea rates, which are a proxy for risky heterosexual behavior. They are more closely associated with syphilis rates, which are a proxy for risky homosexual behavior. However, these estimates are smaller and less statistically significant when we exclude California, the state with the largest gay population. Also, laws permitting same-sex marriage are unrelated to gonorrhea or syphilis, but variation in these laws is insufficient to yield precise estimates. In sum, the findings point to a modest positive association—if any at all—between same-sex marriage bans and syphilis.

Suggested Citation

  • Francis, Andrew M. & Mialon, Hugo M. & Peng, Handie, 2012. "In sickness and in health: Same-sex marriage laws and sexually transmitted infections," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(8), pages 1329-1341.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:75:y:2012:i:8:p:1329-1341
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.05.037
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    3. Marcén, Miriam & Morales, Marina, 2019. "The effect of same-sex marriage legalization on interstate migration in the United States," MPRA Paper 97767, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Delavande, Adeline & Sampaio, Mafalda & Sood, Neeraj, 2014. "HIV-related social intolerance and risky sexual behavior in a high HIV prevalence environment," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 84-93.

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