FRIDAY, May 25, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Laws permitting denial of services to same-sex couples are associated with an increase in sexual minority adults experiencing mental distress, according to a study published online May 23 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Julia Raifman, Sc.D., from the Boston University School of Public Health, and colleagues conducted a difference-in-difference-in-differences linear regression analysis using Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data from 2014 through 2016 for adults in three states that implemented laws permitting the denial of services to same-sex couples and six nearby control states. Of the 109,089 participants, 4.8 percent were identified as sexual minorities.

The researchers found that 12.6 and 21.9 percent of heterosexual adults and sexual minority adults in the three same-sex denial states reported mental distress in 2014. Between 2014 and 2016, there was a 10.1 percent increase in the proportion of sexual minority adults reporting mental distress in states that passed laws permitting denial of services to same-sex couples compared with control states, representing a 46 percent relative increase in sexual minority adults experiencing mental distress. There was no correlation for laws permitting denial of services to same-sex couples with significant changes in heterosexual adults experiencing mental distress.

“Laws permitting denial of services to same-sex couples, which exist in 12 states and are under consideration by the U.S. Supreme Court, are associated with a 46 percent increase in sexual minority adults experiencing mental distress,” the authors write.

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