AMA: Military's don't-ask-don't-tell policy harms gay servicemembers

In a move that extends far beyond medicine and into electoral politics, the American Medical Association has voted to officially oppose the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The policy, which was put into effect during the Clinton presidency, banned investigations of a soldier's sexual orientation, but permits the military to fire openly gay members.

The AMA contends that such a policy, along with laws that prohibit same-sex marriage, contributes to health disparities. For example, leaders say that the don't-ask-don't-tell policy tends to discourage gay soldiers from being frank with their doctors.

As for its marriage stance, AMA members say it's based on medical research. The research suggests that married couples are more likely to have health insurance, and that the uninsured are often sicker and die younger, according to AMA board member Dr. Peter Carmel.

Also, when same-sex families lack other benefits from marriage--such as tax breaks, spousal benefits and Social Security survivorship payments--it can undermine their health, the powerful medical group said.

To learn more about the AMA's stand:
- read this Associated Press piece

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