This Saturday night, just in time for NYC LGBT Pride Week, financial guru Suze Orman will dedicate an episode of “The Suze Orman Show” to marriage equality and the economic impacts that marriage equality has on LGBT couples nationwide. The show is one of the highest rated shows on network CNBC and this episode will cover estate taxes, health insurance, pensions, and social security.
“Here I sit in front of you. A 61-year-old woman who has been gay my entire life. Who has been in a committed relationship for the past 12 years. And I will die in this relationship a woman who pays more taxes than most, that is a contributing member to the economy in more ways than most, YET, I am not treated equally.”
Many people are indifferent to the topic of marriage equality / discrimination or don’t understand its impact on people, families, and society. The reality is that equality is a health issue.
The show above aired this past weekend and I am impressed with Suze Orman, a national figure, for making a clear statement about the impact of marriage discrimination on her financial health and the financial health of those like her who are discriminated against today.
The impact on physical health was well illustrated by a lesbian couple, Holly and Suzanne, that Suze invited to fill the space in the show where opposite-sex couples speak about their finances.
While Suze separated what she saw as discrimination issue versus an individual choice issue, the impact on health was quite visible.
Arizona (my home state) prohibits second parent adoption and engages in marriage discrimination. Because they cannot legally manage their finances as a couple and participate in child tax credits afforded to families who can legally marry:
i feel that i’m not contributingequally to the household. and it’s hard to swallow sometimes – Holly
In addition, Holly is a smoker, and spends as much on cigarettes every month as her partner Suzanne is paying on her student loan debt. Suze counseled Holly about the impact of her smoking, which is appropriate.
Discrimiation is a social determinant of health – Boehmer XiaopengLinkletter, CrystalClark, Melissa A. U. Adult Health Behaviors Over the Life Course by Sexual Orientation. American Journal of Public Health. 2012;102(2):292-300.
Research data shows that the health deck is stacked against people like Holly, though: lesbian women have a much much ( like up to 200% ) greater likelihood to (a) smoke (b) binge drink (c) not have seen a doctor in the past year (d) use the Emergency Room and (e) not get cervical cancer screening, compared to heterosexual women.
This study also shows that the lesbian women studied were significantly more educated and with a higher income than their heterosexual counterparts at the same time they are facing these life-threatening risks.
We could say that this is not the way we want parents to feel about their contribution or the health risks we want them to face when it comes to raising a family. All of this is unnecessary.
How do we know this? There’s now data that in places where there is no discrimination, the opposite is true see: Now Reading: Equality equals health – Study of the impact of marriage equality laws on health care use | Ted Eytan, MD
Discrimination, or unequal access to human rights, is a social determinant of financial health and total health.
I applaud Suze Orman using her status as a national figure to make sure things get better for people like her and people who come after her. And, she’ll be successful. Why? You know, because love always wins.
If you’d like like to see what love winning looks like, check out these photographs from LGBT pride festivals all over the United States this past weekend.