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  • DOMA Falls!

    Today was a historic day for the gay-rights movement! AMSA applauds the decision announced by the Supreme Court of the United States holding (5-4) the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) 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.

    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.

    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.”

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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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  • Medical Students Support Marriage Equality as Supreme Court Hears DOMA and Proposition 8 Cases

    As the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments this week in two marriage equality cases, Hollingsworth v. Perry and Windsor v. United States, the American Medical Student Association reiterates its longstanding support of marriage equality for same sex couples.

    “The institution of marriage should be extended to any two individuals who love each other, period.” says Dr. Elizabeth Wiley, national president of AMSA-USA. “As the nation’s next generation of physicians, we must stand up for our patients. Marriage equality is a public health issue.”

    Discriminatory policies and social practices are likely to perpetuate stigmatisation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, resulting in negative health effects. According to a study done at Emory University, states' constitutional bans on gay marriage escalate new HIV infections at a rate comparable to four cases per 100,000 people.

    This comes as there is growing support internationally among medical students for marriage equality. Earlier this month in Baltimore, the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA) General Assembly announced its support for marriage equality worldwide . This month, more than 1,000 medical students from across the globe gathered in Baltimore for the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA) March Meeting.

    The Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA - Australia) tabled the statement, calling on governments worldwide to recognize same-sex marriage. The American Medical Student Association (AMSA-USA) and the New Zealand Medical Students’ Association (NZMSA) co-seconded the policy that was submitted to the IFMSA, which represents over 1.3 million medical students across more than 100 nations.

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  • Medical students unite worldwide for marriage equality

    AMSA (that's us!) has joined AMSA (that's the Australian Medical Students’ Association) and signed on to their draft policy statement which was submitted to the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA), calling on governments worldwide to legalize same-sex marriage.

    The Australian Medical Students' Association President Mr. Ben Veness said, “We reject discrimination based on gender and sexuality in all its forms. Legislation marginalising lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals contributes to their increased mental health risks. LGBTI individuals are more likely to attempt suicide and have an increased risk of depression, anxiety disorders and drug addictions. There are no health arguments in favour of defining marriage as a legal union solely between a man and a woman. As medical students, we want to see every individual have the best opportunity for good health. Marriage equality will help achieve this.”

    The Australian medical students will be traveling to Baltimore, Maryland, next month to present their policy at the International Federation of Medical Students' Associations General Assembly. Read more here.

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  • Why AMSA Cares that Obama Came Out In Support of Marriage Equality

    Carl Streed
    Baltimore MD
    AMSA National LGBT Policy Coordinator

    Earlier today, President Obama said, "I think same-sex couples should be able to get married."

    These words follow a impatient wait for the President to "evolve," but a wait well worth the significant impact for same-sex couples in the United States. After Vice-President Biden's remarks, many feared that the White House would distance itself from the issue in preparation for the upcoming national election; and there was some movement away from the vice-president's statements. But today, following the disappointment in North Carolina and Colorado, the President has finally aligned himself with the beliefs and wishes of millions of Americans.

    Why does the American Medical Student Association care about a political and social issue some would argue is removed from health care, from the clinic, from medical education?

    AMSA cares about marriage equality because it affects the lives of our patients, it affects the well-being of our communities. Without federal marriage equality, same-sex couples are less likely to have employer-sponsored dependent coverage, ("exclusion [...] from civil marriage and the failure of domestic partnership benefits to provide insurance parity contribute to unequal access to health coverage"), less likely to have access to loved-ones in hospital-settings, and less likely to be able to make medical decisions for their loved-ones. As a consequence, marriage discrimination is a significant source of health disparities.

    But after decades of discrimination, the fight for marriage equality is not just about a package of benefits and protections. At its core, marriage equality is about respecting the dignity and humanity of others; values we uphold at AMSA and ones we must possess as competent and caring health professionals.

    To learn more about the American Medical Student Associations' positions and policies regarding marriage equality and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender health, click here.

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