New York, NY–GMHC applauds the US Supreme Court for their rulings in the two cases on same-sex marriage. GMHC is especially pleased with the decision in the case, Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)-U.S. v. Windsor,where longtime GMHC donor Edith Windsor is represented by Roberta Kaplan, Esq. a member of the GMHC Board of Directors.
Commenting on the rulings, GMHC’s CEO Marjorie J. Hill, PhD declared, “The Supreme Court has made the right choices. This is a historic day, and one that we, and all fair-minded members of society, celebrate and welcome. The striking down of the discriminatory DOMA and the finding that Proposition 8 in California was also unconstitutional advance equality for all people. Combating laws which discriminate against gay men and lesbians is an important step in reducing stigma and creating a society in which all people are valued and able to access health care. These are critical steps as we move towards creating an AIDS-free generation.”
A study from two researchers at Emory University, published in 2009, documents how attitudes on homosexuality, including bans on marriage between same sex couples, are linked to sexual activity and rates of HIV transmission and show that marriage bans do not serve public health but instead increase infection rates.
GMHC concurs with our friend, Neil Giuliano, the Executive Director of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation who explained, “When we promote and permit intolerance through bans on same-sex marriage, we enable and encourage feelings of marginalization, depression, and isolation among gay people — particularly LGBT youth. As a result, things like substance use, alcohol consumption, and sexual risk taking increase. And we cannot ignore the data: These activities lead to more cases of HIV. On the flip side, when we promote tolerance through marriage equality, we bring people in from the margins, we help them to feel more affirmed and connected, and risk taking decreases. When this happens, HIV infection rates also decrease.”
Roberta Kaplan of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison, explained, “It is only because of the efforts of people like Edie Windsor and those who founded and sustained organizations which continue to fight social injustice–like GMHC–that allowed this victory to happen. As Chief Judge Jacobs so eloquently wrote, ‘Ninety years of discrimination is enough.’ We can never show enough gratitude for prior generations like Edie’s who lived through and struggled against that discrimination-particularly when so many of those men and women sadly did not survive to see this day.”
Dr. Hill recalls the words of Coretta Scott King, “Freedom and justice cannot be parceled out in pieces to suit political convenience. I don’t believe you can stand for freedom for one group of people and deny it to others.”
GMHC salutes the expansion of freedom as a result of these two rulings.