Wednesday, June 6, 2012
News for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Physicians
Supreme Court justice will decide gay marriage rights: op-ed
President Obama's endorsement of gay marriage was a celebrated victory for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. However, the opinion of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy may matter even more than Obama's. When this issue reaches the Supreme Court, Kennedy likely will be the deciding vote.
An op-ed column in the New York Times discuses how Kennedy might rule on this issue based on past opinions. The author believes that Kennedy's opinion may stop short of requiring that all states recognize same-same marriage. However, the court could move the issue forward by either upholding or declining to hear an appellate court ruling that overturned Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in California.
Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, appeals court declares
A federal appeals court ruled last week that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional because it denies equal rights for legally married same-sex couples.
In its decision, the court held that the law's definitions of marriage and spouse impermissibly discriminate against couples legally married in states that allow same-sex marriage, in this instance Massachusetts. The law's application in these states has resulted in couples being legally married but unable to access federal benefits such as Social Security.
"One virtue of federalism is that it permits this diversity of governance based on local choice, but this applies as well to the states that have chosen to legalize same-sex marriage," wrote Judge Michael Boudin, author of the opinion and appointee of President George H.W. Bush. "Under current Supreme Court authority, Congress' denial of federal benefits to same-sex couples lawfully married in Massachusetts has not been adequately supported by any permissible federal interest."
The court acknowledged that the Supreme Court will have ultimate say on the law, and as such its opinion in the case, Gill v. Office of Personnel Management and Massachusetts v. United States, has been stayed pending the high court's likely upcoming review.
It is the AMA's policy that denying civil marriage based on sexual orientation is discriminatory and imposes a harmful stigma on gay and lesbian people, couples and their families. Moreover, the exclusion from civil marriage contributes to health care disparities affecting same-sex households. View this policy and others related to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues.
Learn best practices when taking a sexual history
Do you know and understand the importance of properly taking a patient's sexual history? Oftentimes, it's when taking a patient's sexual history that important information about him or her, such as sexual orientation or gender identity, come to light.
For tips about taking a patient's sexual history, view the AMA video "Patient sexual health history: what you need to know to help." In addition to exploring how to improve your skills when taking a patient's sexual health history, the video highlights strategies to improve the health of patients by managing sexual risks. It also provides the most appropriate care for diverse populations, including gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender patients.
The video is part of the AMA's Educating Physicians on Controversies and Challenges in Health series. View other videos in the series.