Human Rights Campaign
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Same Sex Marriage Bans Contribute to Health Disparities says AMA
The American Medical Association voted Tuesday to oppose the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military and declared that same-sex marriage bans contribute to health disparities.
The nation's largest doctors' group stopped short of saying it would seek to overturn marriage bans but its new stance angered conservative activists and provides a fresh boost to lobbying efforts by gay-rights advocates.
"It's highly significant that the AMA as one of this country's leading professional associations has taken a position on both of these issues," said Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in Washington.
The health disparities measure, "in the long run, will certainly help efforts to win marriage equality," Carey said.
Whether the AMA's lobbying power will hasten efforts to overturn the "don't ask, don't tell" law remains to be seen. President Obama has said he is working with congressional leaders to end the policy, and the AMA's stance will likely help, although gay rights issues have been upstaged by Obama's health care overhaul battle.
The AMA's vote took place at the group's interim policymaking meeting in Houston,
The health disparities policy is based on evidence showing that married couples are more likely to have health insurance and that the uninsured have a high risk for "living sicker and dying younger," said Dr. Peter Carmel, an AMA board member.
But Jenny Tyree, an analyst for Focus on the Family Action, a conservative advocacy group, called it a health insurance problem, not a marriage problem.
Doctors who pushed the group to oppose "don't ask, don't tell" say forcing gay service members to keep their sexual orientation secret has "a chilling effect" on open communication between gays and their doctors.
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/11/11/MNBC1AICNU.DTL#ixzz0WZiipNO5