Top US Health Orgs Praise Historic Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Caroline Cassels

June 26, 2015

UPDATED June 29, 2015 // Leading US healthcare associations are praising the 5-to-4 Supreme Court ruling that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA), the American Medical Association (AMA), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the American College of Physicians (ACP) have all released statements applauding the decision.

"Today's ruling strikes a blow to inequality and discrimination throughout the nation, and that's good for Americans' mental health," APA president Renée Binder, MD, said in a statement. "The APA has a long history of supporting the rights of same-sex couples, and we have long noted that there is no scientific or medical reason to deny these couples the right to marry. This decision is a landmark step in ensuring equality and happiness for every American."

"The AMA is pleased by today's Supreme Court decision that marriage is a right for all Americans because it ends a form of discrimination and will help reduce health care disparities among same-sex couples and their families," AMA board member Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, MD, said in a statement.

"The AMA has long-standing policy to support measures providing same-sex households with the same rights and privileges to healthcare, health insurance, and survivor benefits as afforded opposite-sex households. Marriage equality is a step forward toward advancing those goals," Dr Ehrnefeld added.

A hard-won victory for the gay rights movement, the ruling guarantees gay and lesbian couples the right to marry in all 50 states.

In the majority ruling, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote that "the Court, in this decision, holds same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry in all States. It follows that the Court must also hold ― and it now does hold ― that there is no lawful basis for a State to refuse to recognize a lawful same-sex marriage performed in another State on the ground of its same-sex character."

The ruling goes on to state that gay and lesbian couples respect the institution of marriage "so deeply that they seek to find its fulfilment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization's oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right."

ACP president Wayne J. Riley, MD, MPH, notes in a statement that the decision is a "historic step forward to the goal of ensuring equal access to healthcare for all Americans." Pointing to its recent position statement published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the ACP notes that the denial of same sex couples to marry "can have a negative impact on the physical and mental health of these persons and contribute to ongoing stigma and discrimination for LGBT persons and their families."

AAP president Sandra G. Hassink, MD, said the decision "supports children in families with same-gender parents. If a child has two loving and capable parents who choose to create a permanent bond, it's in the best interest of their children that legal institutions allow them to do so."

Similarly, the APA noted that the "claim that allowing same-sex couples to marry undermines the institution and harms children is inconsistent with scientific evidence. In fact, the evidence strongly supports the conclusion that homosexuality is a normal expression of human sexuality and that gay men and lesbians form stable, committed relationships equivalent to heterosexual couples."

"But the issue goes well beyond the scientific evidence," Dr Binder said. "It is about what is the right thing to do and the fact that everyone should be free from discrimination."

Syllabus of the Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell et al v. Hodges et al. Full text


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