Rice sociologist available to discuss US Supreme Court decision on DOMA and Prop 8

David Ruth
713-348-6327
david@rice.edu

Amy Hodges
713-348-6777
amy.hodges@rice.edu

Rice sociologist available to discuss US Supreme Court decision on DOMA and Prop

HOUSTON — (June 25, 2013) — The Supreme Court today announced that it will issue its final decisions of the term, including two on same-sex marriage, tomorrow at 9 a.m. CDT. Rice University sociologist Justin Denney is available to comment on the potential health benefits of marriage for sexual minorities in response to how the court rules on California’s Proposition 8 referendum that bans same-sex marriage and the federal Defense of Marriage Act that limits federal married-couple benefits to unions between a man and a woman.

Denney’s recent paper, “Families, Resources and Adult Health: Where Do Sexual Minorities Fit?” is one of the first studies comparing the health of married heterosexual couples and cohabitating same-sex couples; it shows that there may be health disadvantages to cohabitating versus being married.

“The evidence is growing that sexual minorities in relationships are as satisfied with their relationship as married people report and they are as committed as anyone,” said Denney, an assistant professor of sociology, associate director of the Kinder Institute’s Urban Health Program at Rice and adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. “And although same-sex couples also have more income and education than married people – all factors that are usually good for health – same-sex couples still report worse health than married people.”

Denney said that one reason same-sex couples report poorer health might be the difficulties they face in sharing resources typically shared in families, things like health insurance coverage. Another reason that is more difficult to measure and document is the increased stress from stigma and discrimination.

“We know sexual minorities face increased daily stressors. Being told you cannot marry your intimate partner is a type of institutional discrimination that is typically not good for one’s well-being,” Denney said. “If there are actual health benefits to being married, how can we justify excluding a population from marrying?”

Denney is a health researcher with a Ph.D. in sociology and demography from the University of Colorado-Boulder. He is interested in identifying individual and structural conditions that jointly contribute to health and mortality inequalities. His work and collaborations within and across disciplines has led to published articles in leading scholarly journals, including Social Science and Medicine, the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Journal of Marriage and Family, and Demography. These publications have addressed topics such as the effects of family formation, socioeconomic status, and neighborhood context on individual health and mortality risks.

Rice University has a VideoLink ReadyCam TV interview studio capable of transmitting broadcast-quality standard-definition and high-definition video directly to all news media organizations around the world 24/7.

To schedule an interview with Denney, contact David Ruth, director of national media relations at Rice, at david@rice.edu or 713-348-6327.

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Related materials:

Justin Denney photo (Credit: Rice University): http://bit.ly/15A0qNs

Justin Denney bio: http://sociology.rice.edu/denney

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About Amy Hodges

Amy is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.