012. LGBTQ Health

A discussion including inclusion and finding ourselves

Obergefell of Obergefell v. Hodges 

“Recounting the circumstances of three of these cases illustrates the urgency of the petitioners’ cause from their perspective. Petitioner James Obergefell, a plaintiff in the Ohio case, met John Arthur over two decades ago. They fell in love and started a life together, establishing a last- ing, committed relation. In 2011, however, Arthur was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. This debilitating disease is progressive, with no known cure. Two years ago, Obergefell and Arthur decided to commit to one another, resolving to marry before Arthur died. To fulfill their mutual promise, they traveled from Ohio to Maryland, where same-sex marriage was legal. It was difficult for Arthur to move, and so the couple were wed inside a medical transport plane as it remained on the tarmac in Baltimore. Three months later, Arthur died. Ohio law does not permit Obergefell to be listed as the surviving spouse on Arthur’s death certificate. By statute, they must remain strangers even in death, a state- imposed separation Obergefell deems “hurtful for the rest of time.” App. in No. 14–556 etc., p. 38. He brought suit to be shown as the surviving spouse on Arthur’s death certificate.”

Opinion of the CourtObergefell v. Hodges


Essays of possible interest

  1. Growing pains: problems with puberty suppression in treating gender dysphoria
  2. The duty to warn and clinical ethics: legal and ethical aspects of confidentiality and HIV/AIDS
  3. Obergefell v. Hodges decision


Questions to ponder 

To what extent is a person’s gendered/sexual information morally/ethically relevant to decisions made by and with regards to that person? To what extent ought this information be relevant in our lives? What principles would you call upon to justify your “ought” belief.

Confidentiality is often taken as a bedrock principle of medical fields. “It is founded” as Safken & Frewer (2007) note “on two main principles: first, there is the physician-patient relationship; only a patient who fully relies upon the physicians’ confidentiality will reveal personal and intimate details about his state of health. The second is keeping the patient’s secrets, which is essential for public confidence in the medical profession and an efficient health care system.” However, from time to time there arise situations that might compel a physician to warn a third party. What are some examples of situations in which a physician might have an obligation to warn some third party about a patient (e.g., about or because of an illness that might infect them, etc.)?

Is it ever okay for a medical professional to disclose a patient’s gendered/sexual information to a third party? What if it is against the expressed wishes of the patient? (Put plainly, is it okay for a doctor to “out” someone for their LGBTQ activity/identity?)

What are a few medical/societal conditions that uniquely affect LGBTQ communities? How might one go about positively influencing such conditions so as to bend the moral arc of history in a preferred direction?

Why did it take so long for America to legalize gay marriage?

What are current environments out there like for LGBTQ communities? What has gotten better, what has gotten worse with time? Why do you think that is? Is there anything we can do to, again, bend that moral arc?

Should marriage be a federal institution?

To what extent should we suppress the puberty of children? Can a parent make that decision without the input of the child? How much weight should we give to the child’s preference/wishes in making such a decision? What about other medical decisions? Is there something unique to gender-altering procedures that are different than other medical procedures?

What’s next? We know our country hasn’t yet mastered “liberty and justice for all.” What further liberties ought we to extend to one another / recognize for one another?