The American Medical Association (AMA) voted yesterday in favor of repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and proclaimed that existing bans on gay marriage negatively affect the health of the LGBTQ community. According to the Huffington Post, the AMA based its assertion on evidence that married couples are more likely to have health insurance and that uninsured people are more likely to live sicker and die younger.
The AMA passed the resolution after learning that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has interfered with doctor-patient relationships, according to the Seattle Post Intelligencer. Military doctors reportedly have revealed personal information about their patients, including sexual orientation, to military commanders. As a result, Servicemembers United has observed that some lesbian and gay servicemembers have been compelled to avoid treatment or to keep important medical information from their doctors, potentially putting them at risk for life-threatening conditions.
Alexander Nicholson, founder and director of Servicemembers United, said in a press release, “Today, the American Medical Association took a principled stance against a law that clearly has a negative impact on military healthcare, military medical providers, and our troops…This is yet another nail in the coffin of the flawed and outdated “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, and it should send a strong message to those who continue to blindly claim that this policy works.”
Instituted by former President Bill Clinton in 1993, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” prohibits the military from inquiring about a service member’s sexual orientation, but also calls for the discharge of anyone who acknowledges being lesbian or gay. Thus far, the policy has led to the expulsion of about 13,000 troops.