By Jordan Budd
In case you haven’t been paying attention, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has had a very busy June releasing decisions on what are arguably some of the most historical cases of our generation. Closing out the month, SCOTUS made two landmark decisions regarding Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans* (LGBT) Americans which will grant more young Americans the opportunity to have access to affordable and fair health care coverage.
When I learned about the ruling, I thought about the many conversations I’ve had with my former intern Rei about his fears about being unable to visit his partner in the hospital or access his significant other’s health care benefits should something tragic happen.
SCOTUS’ Impact on Health Care Equality.
The following two cases opened up the door for more young Americans to have access to health care like millions of their peers.
1. Proposition 8, a ballot initiative that reversed same-sex marriage legalization in California, was overruled on jurisdictional grounds, meaning that all Californians are now afforded marriage equality.
What’s the big deal with marriage and health care?
You may know someone who’s covered by his or her spouse’s insurance plan. In states that do not allow same-sex marriage, a person in a same-sex relationship often does not have access to this same benefit.
2. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was struck down by SCOTUS. DOMA, signed into law by President Clinton in 1996, bans the federal government from recognizing homosexual couples, thereby denying them the same federal benefits afforded to heterosexual couples. It also allowed for states without gay marriage (in 1996, that meant all 50 of them) to refuse recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states.
What Does This Mean?
- Before DOMA was struck down, if a partner in a same-sex relationship died, the surviving member wouldn’t be able to collect their significant other’s Social Security or Medicare benefits.
- Taxpaying married same sex couples will finally get federal tax credits for health care expenses, a provision that only heterosexual couples recognized by the government were entitled to.
Overall, more than 1,000 Federal benefits will now be accessible to LGBT families.
These rulings not only afford Rei federal recognition for his relationship, but also made it easier to obtain affordable and adequate health care under the Affordable Care Act.
Rei isn’t alone. There are millions of Americans just like him whose lives have been fundamentally transformed as a result of these decisions.
But these rulings are just the first step in real health care equality for LGBT Americans. Although DOMA may be gone, and all Californians can now legally marry the person they love, millions of Americans are still denied that right, and thereby denied full equality of opportunity with regard to health care.
At Young Invincibles we want everyone in our generation to have equal access to health care. Follow @YI_Care to join in the health care discussion.