In new policy position, American Medical Association makes case for ending marriage discrimination
With New York now the sixth – and largest – state to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage, the American Medical Association (AMA) adopted a policy position declaring that excluding same-sex couples from marriage is “discriminatory” and reaffirming existing AMA policy to support relationship recognition of same-sex couples as a means of addressing health disparities faced by those couples and their families.
“Marriage inequality is not only unfair, it literally places families in harm’s way. Right now, all across this country, same-sex couples and their children are needlessly being put at risk because they are denied the freedom to marry. They are vulnerable to greater health disparities because they are blocked from important protections and benefits afforded through civil marriage, including access to health insurance and federal survivor benefits. No family should have to suffer because of discrimination. We thank the AMA for recognizing and responding to this critical issue,” said Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
“With this deliberate policy statement by the American Medical Association, the nation’s doctors diagnose the pain and injury that exclusion from marriage inflicts on lesbian and gay couples, their children, and loved ones – and make clear that ending marriage discrimination is the cure,” said Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry. “The AMA now joins every other mainstream public health organization in America in making the case for providing the freedom to marry – and the critical safety-net that comes with marriage – to loving, committed same-sex couples.”
“GLMA applauds the AMA for recognizing the discrimination, bias and stigma gay and lesbian couples and their families face because they are unable to marry in almost all parts of the country,” said Hector Vargas, executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. “Through GLMA’s work to address health disparities, we know that bias and stigma contribute significantly to the health disparities LGBT people encounter, which is why it’s so important that the AMA adopted this policy and reaffirmed its commitment to work to reduce health disparities affecting lesbian and gay couples and their families.”
The policy, H-65.973 Health Care Disparities in Same-Sex Partner Households, was adopted the AMA on Monday, June 20, and states:
Our American Medical Association: (1) recognizes that denying civil marriage based on sexual orientation is discriminatory and imposes harmful stigma on gay and lesbian individuals and couples and their families; (2) recognizes that exclusion from civil marriage contributes to health care disparities affecting same-sex households; (3) will work to reduce health care disparities among members of same-sex households including minor children; and (4) will support measures providing same-sex households with the same rights and privileges to health care, health insurance, and survivor benefits, as afforded opposite-sex households. (Modify Current HOD Policy). (Emphasis added.)
The policy is the latest in a series of policies the AMA has approved to address not only the needs of LGBT physicians and medical students but also the needs of LGBT patients. The policy reaffirms the consensus among leading professional medical, scientific, and social science communities that ending the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage would provide additional support and stability to couples in committed relationships. To read the full list of AMA policies regarding sexual orientation, click here.
Other professional health organizations that support the freedom to marry include the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.