FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: JUNE 26, 2013
Sterling, VA—The American Medical Student Association (AMSA) applauds the decision announced by the Supreme Court of the United States holding (5-4) the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional in United States vs. Windsor. In Hollingsworth vs. Perry, the Supreme Court did not rule on the constitutionality of California’s law prohibiting same-sex marriage, or “Prop 8”, and sent the appeal back to the lower court with instructions to dismiss, currently leaving intact the district court’s ruling that Prop 8 is unconstitutional.
“Today was historic in the gay-rights movement and AMSA commends the DOMA ruling as a significant step toward eliminating disparities for same-sex partners,” says Dr. Nida Degesys, AMSA national president. “Now, more than ever, we need to keep advocating for equal rights. As the nation’s next generation of physicians, we must stand up for our patients. Marriage equality is a public health issue and we want an equal and just healthcare system for all.”’DOMA includes a federal definition of marriage that fails to encompass all forms of legal partnership. Equal protection under the law necessitates that all individuals, including same-sex couples, are eligible for all benefits afforded to legally married couples. According to today’s ruling, DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.
Today’s decision will begin to eliminate significant barriers same-sex couples face in accessing health insurance coverage and health care services. The Center for American Progress and the Williams Institute project that same-sex couples who buy health insurance for a partner will save an average of $1,069 per year in federal taxes.
The Court’s “Prop 8” decision sends the case back to California, where state judges and the state’s top officials have said same-sex marriage is a matter of equal rights. “We had hoped that the Supreme Court would have taken a stronger stance and ruled Prop 8 unconstitutional, so that all partners could marry,” continues Degesys. “But the ruling does allow for same-sex marriage to become legal again in California. Today we celebrate but tomorrow we must continue fighting to end institutionalized stigma and discrimination. We must advocate for equal rights for all.”
Upholding civil marriage for all couples follows the current movement to eliminate discrimination that leads to worse health outcomes for gay and lesbian individuals, couples, and families. Maintaining the status-quo of state by state decisions leads to a fragmented system that avoids addressing the issues of our country as a whole.
About the American Medical Student Association
AMSA is the oldest and largest independent association of physicians-in-training in the United States. Founded in 1950, AMSA is a student-governed, non-profit organization committed to representing the concerns of physicians-in-training. To learn more about AMSA, our strategic priorities, or joining the organization, please visit us online at www.amsa.org.