The Discrimination and Inequalities placed on Same Sex Couples In United States

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Through a couple’s unbelievable story, one can evaluate the disrespect and hardship that same-sex couples experience on a day-to-day basis. Krista and Jami Contreras tells the story of how in October 2014 they took their six day old baby Bay to its first wellness appointment with Dr. Vesna Roi. To their surprise an unfamiliar face, Dr. Karam, welcomed them and informed the couple that she was going to be their new pediatrician. It was further explained that after a long period of reflection and praying, Dr. Roi was unable to care for baby Bay based upon her discomfort on the sexual orientation of the couple. Four months later Dr. Roi wrote a letter the to same-sex couple stating., “I felt that I would not be able to develop the personal patient-doctor relationship that I normally do with my parents” (myFOXDetroit.com Staff, 2015). It was a shock to both Krista and Jami, as their first thought of Dr. Roi was that they were, “really happy with her. [and] the kind of care she offered [they- liked her personality, [and thought] she seemed pretty friendly and straight up with [them].” Fortunately, Krista and Jami were able to find a substitute pediatrician who accepted them for who they were, a same sex couple. With the disgraceful attitude toward their family the Contreras looked into what they can do about this situation. But to their dismay Dr. Roi, by law, has free choice to treat people in this way as Michigan there are no laws that protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families from discrimination. This story illustrates a small fraction of the bigger problem in the United States where U.S law fails to support same sex couples against discrimination and inequality.

Many LGTBQ people experiences bias when receiving healthcare, as they may not be aware of the rules that protect them from discrimination. There are a number of states that have laws that protect LGBTQ patients against differential treatment or refusal of treatment based on sexual orientation and gender identity (Michon, 2015). Twenty-two of the fifty states have laws that prohibit discrimination based on a persons sexual orientation (see table).

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Table 1- Illustration of the states prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. (Michon, 2015)

The American Medical Association (AMA) has taken a positive attitude on physician treatment of gay, lesbian and transgendered patients. In its ethics opinions, which serve as a model for how all physicians and their employees should practice medicine, the AMA states, “Physicians who offer their services to the public may not decline to accept patients because of race, color religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or any other basis that would constitute invidious discrimination” (Michon, 2015). The AMA further states “will work to reduce the health disparities suffered because of unequal treatment of minor children and same sex parents in same sex households” (ibid).

Unfortunately, some doctors have found a way to refuse patients of same sex couples without breaking the law. Parallel to the above-mentioned law, the AMA has another law that states doctors can refuse treatment if it is incompatible with their personal, religious or moral belief. This law enables homophobic healthcare providers to discriminate LGTBQ families. Doctors can say they have personal, religious or moral beliefs not to care for a gay patient, but realistically they are refusing to care for a patient based on the patient’s sexual orientation. Similar to the Contreras case, Dr. Roi was allowed to refuse healthcare to baby Bay because of her own personal beliefs. This makes it difficult for LGTBQ families such as the Contreras, to fight against this type of discrimination because the AMA laws protect doctors.

Under the Universal Declaration of Human rights Article 25 (1) it states that everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services (The universal declaration of human rights, 2015). For LGTBQ families who do not have the freedom or ability to find another doctor that will care for them, it may mean that they will not get the proper healthcare they need. It is disgraceful that people can be denied the right to equitable care and have a healthy quality of life, based on their sexual orientation.

Fortunately North America does not implement compulsory heterosexuality. The concept of a heterosexual relationship is decreasingly becoming the social norm, a change in a positive direction. More countries need to embrace this change, and accept those who express themselves in the LGTBQ community without discrimination. There needs to be a new law passed that gives no choice or reasons for doctors to discrimination against same sex couples, and allow everyone the equal and optimal healthcare.

Dana Nessel is one among many who are advocating for equality for everyone. She is one of the attorneys in the Michigan same sex marriage case that is now headed to the United States Supreme Court. Nessel refers to the legislation called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act now in the State Senate, which opponents say would allow people to discriminate based on their moral or religious beliefs. If everyone followed Nessel’s example, LGTB people would feel equal and safe in our world.

In conclusion, this story illustrates how people can find any loophole to legally discriminate against same sex couples. It is sad to think that healthcare providers would refuse treatment to any individual based on their sexual orientation. In this situation, heartbreak goes out to Bay. She is only six days old and has already faced discrimination. It is to hope that when baby Bay grows older, the discrimination towards her and her mothers will dissipate. In that world baby Bay can grow up to be a healthy individual and treated equally, as everyone should be.

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Work Cited

Michon, Kathleen. “Health Care Antidiscrimination Laws Protecting Gays and Lesbians | Nolo.com.” Nolo.com. Nolo Law for All, 2015. Web. 16 Mar. 2015. http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/

MyFoxDetroit.comstaff. “Doctor Refuses Treatment of Same-sex Couple’s Baby.” – Fox 2 News Headlines. MyFoxDetroit.com, 18 Feb. 2015. Web. 09 Mar. 2015. http://www.myfoxdetroit.com/story/28142401/doctor-refuses-treatment-of-same-sex-couples-baby

“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UDHR, Declaration of Human Rights, Human Rights Declaration, Human Rights Charter, The Un and Human Rights.” UN News Center. UN, n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2015. http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/

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3 thoughts on “The Discrimination and Inequalities placed on Same Sex Couples In United States

  1. I really enjoyed the fact that you spoke of the differences found between religious/moral freedoms in the United States. I have a few things to comment on within this that I would say have value. One – it seems just about anything discriminatory these days can be amounted to the statement, “for religious reasons”. Religion has become an excuse, because interpretation of language is so vast among people all over the world. It has come to the point that we are a planet made up of 7 billion different opinions with 7 billion different interpretations of texts (esp. religious texts), so there are basically no boundaries or proofs within these laws that people are making decisions based on religious practice, or just ignorance. Two – It upsets me that the conversation has turned into something that is pushing for LGBTQ+ positive laws in the United States. Obviously I believe this to be completely important and progressive within North American (and global) cultures; however I do inherently think it is unfortunate that there even has to be a special law made for the LGBTQ+ community. And this in itself, I would have to say is quite dehumanizing. Anyway, that’s my little rant for today. Great post Robbie 🙂

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  2. I found your piece to be very thought-provoking and helpful. I like how you incorporate the entirety of the medical profession and their attitudes towards the entirety of the LGBTQ+ community. I also thought that how you brought in the fact that only 22 of the 50 states have laws to protect these people. That is less than half of the states. I think this really exhibits the homophobia and inequality rooted within the government, and shows the inequality within power structures. You mention the laws protecting patients, and then the one protecting doctors which basically nullifies the ones meant to protect the patients. In that sense, I find it to be hypocritical and borderline anti-gay. If a doctor may refuse treatment of patients because it goes against their moral, religious, or personal beliefs, the previous one need not exist as a doctor is not likely to refuse a patient based on their sexuality if it is not against their beliefs. I certainly agree with you that it is disgraceful. I also liked that you discussed Dana Nessel, as I had not previously heard of her or her movement, so thank you for bringing that to my attention!

    As The Funky Phoenix said, religion has become an excuse, and I feel as if this had negatively impacted the opinions of others on religion in general. I have friends who are religious who are not homophobic at all, and who all interpret their religious texts much differently from each other. I also very much agree that it is sad that special laws must be made for different races and sexualities – we are all people, and as such laws should apply to everyone despite the qualities we possess but cannot control.

    All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed your blog and look forward to reading your next one!

    ~MeggaPengu

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  3. I strongly agree with you by saying that “this story illustrates how people can find any loophole to legally discriminate against same sex couples”. You really capture the key point!Every homophobic people can find an excuse and avoid being criticized or punished by stating that it’s against his/her religious beliefs. Its so unfair for LGBTQ people, because the hurt on mental for their family is hard to recover and no one is responsible for that.

    It’s happy to find in your article that AMS is trying to “reduce the health disparities suffered because of unequal treatment of minor children and same sex parents in same sex households”. It’s really important for those institutions to realize the problems and begin to work on these issues. Although it’s influence might not be great enough, but it at least makes the LGBTQ people know that there still have a large group of people trying to give them equal rights.

    We really share lots of similar opinions! I am looking forward to read your next blog!

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