Romanian Referendum to Ban Same-Sex Marriage not Valid Due to Low Voter Turnout

If you've been keeping up with my writing, you will know that Romania had a referendum to change the definition of marriage to mean between a union between one man and one woman, which would permanently exclude gay Romanians from marrying. I wrote about it in my article "Romanian Referendum May Permanently Criminalize Same-Sex Marriage" if you want to read more about it. Anyway, the referendum did not pass because of an extremely low voter turnout, according to Global News Canada

The referendum, which cost approximately $31 million lasted two days and attempted to change the Romanian constitutional definition of marriage from the neutral word "spouses" to "man and woman." Romania decriminalized homosexuality in 2001 but still forbids same-sex couples from marrying or entering into a civil partnership. Thankfully the referendum didn't pass as there would be no hope for same-sex couples to marry because progress would have been halted altogether. 

The two-day referendum was backed by the Civil group Coalition for the Family and was backed by the Orthodox church, other religious groups, and the majority of parliamentary parties. It received three million signatures, triggering the vote. Despite the large number of signatures, the number of voters was seriously lacking. According to Romania's national election bureau, the voter turnout capped at just 20.4%, with at least a 30% voter turnout to be considered valid.

If the referendum had been passed, Romania would have took a step in the direction or religious authoritarianism and while the country is religious as a whole, secular values are still in place. Activists groups urged fellow Romanians to boycott the referendum and they listened, saying things such as that they had better things to do like "canning food and making wine." Romania ranks 25th out of 28 our of EU in terms of hate speech towards LGBT people and while that is certainly excellent, perhaps not passing this referendum will put them at 28.

h/t: GlobalNewsCanada

New Vanderbilt University Study Says Gay Marriage Increases Gay And Bi Men's Access to Health

A new study conducted by Vanderbilt University found that same-sex marriage led to "significant increases" in gay and bi men's access to care and health insurance coverage.

The study, which was published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, was a combination of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System between the years of 2000 and 2016. 

But how did they know which households in the data belonged to same-sex couples? Well as Vanderbilt’s Research News reports, the CDC data didn’t ask respondents about their sexual orientation. As such, the Vanderbilt researchers deduced from earlier data that a percentage of adults in households of two were same-sex couples.

Christopher Carpenter, a professor of economics at Vanderbilt, led the research team consisting of researchers from several different departments like the department of health policy at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and the departments of economics at Vanderbilt. In addition, Carpenter was the lead author on the paper.

According to the Advocate, the data showed that a man in a same-sex household is 4.2 percent more likely to have health insurance and 7.3 percent more likely to have received an annual checkup.

As for women in same-sex households, there seemed to be no significant difference. That said, researchers say this is probably the fault of the data and its limitations.

Another surprise in the data was the fact that despite the increase in access to health insurance and health care, there were no effects to the actual health in the populations.

“For example, mental health was not improved, and there were no changes in negative health behaviors such as cigarette smoking or heavy drinking,” said co-author Gilbert Gonzales said. “That might mean that it’s too soon to see some of these changes, since legalized, same-sex marriage is a fairly recent phenomenon in the United States.”

While some of the data was limited, Carpenter says it was still incredibly important to collect and report on.

 “This is an important question to study, since recent research has shown that LGBT individuals often face barriers to accessing health services including lack of insurance, stigma, and discrimination, and, as a result, can experience poor health outcomes,” said Christopher Carpenter, “A very large body of research in economics and sociology demonstrates that marriage is protective for health for heterosexual individuals, but ours is the first to show that marriage policy has meaningful effects on health care access for sexual-minority men.”

The next step for these researchers is to analyze more comprehensive data to find out if there was any effect to health that couldn’t be found in this batch of data.

h/t: Vanderilt Reserach News, The Advocate