AMA Says Gay Marriage Bans Contribute to Health Disparities

The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA) today praised the American Medical Association’s (AMA’s) adoption of policy declaring that gay marriage bans contribute to health disparities for gay couples and their children.

“We hope the newly adopted policy will inform future debates about expanding the right to marriage to gay and lesbian couples,” said GLMA Education and Policy Director James Beaudreau. “The science on this issue is clear: the health and well-being of gay couples and their families is directly affected by the right to marry, and denial of that right has many serious health related consequences.”

As part of the newly adopted policy, the AMA “supports measures providing same-sex households with the same rights and privileges to health care, health insurance, and survivor benefits, as afforded opposite-sex households.”

A 2008 report published by GLMA, Same Sex Marriage and Health, documented evidence about the affects of same-sex marriage bans on the LGBT community. The report noted that:

  • Access to health insurance through a spouse is an important component of obtaining quality healthcare;
  • Research indicates that being married can contribute to overall health and longevity;
  • Hospital visitation and decision making rights conferred by marriage are important to the quality of care; and
  • Children of LGBT parents benefit when their families are respected and accorded legal protections.

“As members of the medical community, we must bring our knowledge and understanding to the conversation about marriage equality and its positive effects upon health and wellness,” said GLMA President Rebecca Allison, MD. “We know that denying lesbians and gay men the opportunity to marry denies them multiple benefits of marriage that support relationships and promote health. As an act of discrimination, it compounds stigma against LGBT people in our society that has been linked to psychological distress, such as anxiety and depression.”

The AMA also adopted policies requesting a repeal of the U.S. military’s 'don't ask, don't-tell' law. The AMA said ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ creates an ethical dilemma for LGBT service members and the healthcare providers who treat them by putting service members in the position of having to choose between forgoing appropriate medical care by lying to their physicians or risking discharge, as well as healthcare providers in the position of having to choose between documenting the care they are providing incompletely or inaccurately or risking the service member's discharge.

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GLMA's 2008 report, Same Sex Marriage and Health, is available at

www.glma.org/MarriageEquality.

GLMA is the world's largest association of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) healthcare professionals. Since 1981, GLMA has been working to ensure equality in healthcare for LGBT individuals and healthcare professionals through advocacy, education, research and referrals. Please visit our website at
www.glma.org.

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