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An Open Letter to Dr. Ben Carson Regarding Same-Sex Marriage

April 3, 2013

Dear Dr. Carson,

Thank you for your recent keynote address at the 2013 American Medical Student Association (AMSA) Annual Convention & Exposition. We appreciate you sharing your inspiring story and words of wisdom with our community of physicians-in-training.

On behalf of AMSA, we would like to express our concern regarding your recent public statements concerning same-sex marriage. On March 26, on Sean Hannity's Fox News program, you compared gay relationships with pedophilia and bestiality: "Well, my thoughts are that marriage is between a man and a woman. It's a well-established, fundamental pillar of society and no group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality. It doesn't matter what they are. They don't get to change the definition."

We retain the highest respect for your achievements and value your right to publicly voice your political views. Nevertheless, we feel that these expressed values are potentially harmful to patients and incongruous with the values of the American Medical Student Association.

AMSA, along with many other national organizations, believes equal access to the institution of marriage is a public health issue. The American Medical Association,# the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association,# the American Psychiatric Association,# the American Academy of Pediatrics,# the American Academy of Nursing,# the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists# and many other professional organizations all agree that discriminatory policies and social practices are likely to perpetuate stigmatisation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, resulting in negative health effects for individuals and their families.

While we can appreciate the power of your personal narrative to inspire physicians and physicians-in-training to believe in themselves and their vision for a life of service to people and communities, and are thankful for your recent presentation at AMSA’s Annual Convention featuring this as a central element, we are disappointed in your statements which are contrary to the evidence that has been generated regarding the experiences of LGBTQI people, their relationships, and relation to and function within the larger society. Your statement, aside from being not rooted in objective, scientifically-sound evidence, is dehumanizing by virtue of comparing mutual, consensual adult relationships with exploitative, non-mutual, non-consensual relationships between adults and children and between humans and animals, and is consistent with statements routinely made by hate groups designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Your statement propagates the kind of misinformation and discrimination that is detrimental to the health and well-being of LGBTQI people.# Gay and lesbian patients are much more likely than their heterosexual counterparts to delay care or not access health care entirely because of fear of discrimination and mistreatment by their physicians.# LGBTQI physicians-in-training, many of whom are AMSA members, face patients who would actively refuse care from them just for being gay or lesbian,# and they move through their training and careers constantly worrying if living true to themselves will one day cost them a recommendation, residency position, job, or opportunity for advancement.

As a highly regarded, widely respected, world-famous physician scientist, we urge you to reconsider your statement and fully consider the weight of your words - their effect on patients, physicians-in-training and fellow colleagues. We call on you to acknowledge that your statements and statements of this type are dehumanizing expressions that are antithetical to the humanistic commitments of our profession.

Respectfully,

Elizabeth Wiley, MD, JD, MPH
AMSA National President

Nida Degesys, MD Candidate
AMSA National President-Elect

Jeff Koetje, MD
AMSA Education & Research Director

Aliye Runyan, MD
AMSA Education & Research Fellow

Deborah V. Hall, MD Candidate
AMSA National Secretary

Lexi Light, MD/MPH Candidate
AMSA Gender & Sexualtiy Chair

Carl Streed, MD Candidate
AMSA LGBT Policy Coordinator

Perry Tsai, MD/PhD Candidate
AMSA LGBT Programming Coordinator

Justin Neisler, MD Candidate
AMSA LGBT Policy Coordinator - Elect
------------------------------

# For complete footnote references, please see this link: 
http://www.amsa.org/AMSA/Libraries/Misc_Docs/LetterToBenCarson.sflb.ashx

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Comments  6

  • Jake Newcomb - Global Health Chair 04 Apr

    Great Work on the letter!  Very articulately stated and more relevant than ever.  This is a health and equality issue above all else.  The USA, its physicians and physicians-in-training should take a united stand behind this issue, not only for our LGBTQI patients and colleagues, but also to influence global policy in favor LGBTQI patients.

     - Jake Newcomb, MD Candidate
    AMSA National Global Health Chair and Global Health Chair-Elect
  • Corey Hoch 04 Apr

    Thank you our national AMSA leaders for writing such a moving letter to Dr. Carson. This letter is professional and yet gets across your views effectively. As a member of the LGBT community, I strongly support this letter and appreciate the stance that AMSA takes on this subject of equality for all.
  • Sommers 01 Jul

    Highly descriptive post, I loved that a lot. Will there be a part 2?
  • Candelaria 05 Jul

    Keep on working, great job!
  • Sellars 09 Jul

    Wow, incredible blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you made blogging glance easy. The overall glance of your site is great, let alone the content material!
  • nanoo 06 Nov

    AMSA On Call >An Open Letter to Dr. Ben Carson Regarding Same-Sex Marriage
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