Marriage Equality for Same-Sex Couples
The Committee on Health Care for Underserved Women developed a Committee Opinion on Marriage Equality for Same-Sex Couples. Same-sex couples encounter barriers to health care that include concerns about confidentiality and disclosure, stigma and discriminatory attitudes and treatment, limited access to health care and health insurance, and often a limited understanding of their health risks. Same-sex couples and their families are adversely affected by the lack of legal recognition of their relationships, a problem with major implications for the health of same-sex couples and their families. Tangible harm has come from the lack of financial and health care protections granted to legal spouses, and children are harmed by the lack of protections afforded to families in which partners are married. However, the recent Supreme Court ruling, The United States v Windsor, which afforded equal treatment for legally married same-sex couples will provide many important health and financial benefits. Evidence suggests that marriage confers health benefits to individuals and families, yet a sizable proportion of individuals do not experience these health benefits because of their sexual orientation. Additional data suggest that same-sex couples who live in states with bans on same-sex unions experience adverse health outcomes. Civil marriage is currently available to same-sex couples in only thirteen states and the District of Columbia and honored by one state. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists endorses marriage equality for same-sex couples and equal treatment for these couples and their families and applauds the Supreme Court’s decision as an important step in improving access to benefits received by legally married same-sex couples. However, additional efforts are necessary to ensure that same-sex couples in every state can receive these same benefits.