Rulings will affect ACA, same-sex marriage

The U.S. Supreme Court was expected to issue rulings in June on same-sex marriage and the Affordable Care Act that will have a profound impact on populations that NASW members serve.

In April, the court heard arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, from Ohio, and three related cases from Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee. These cases could decide whether states have an obligation to perform same-sex marriages and recognize same-sex marriages formed in other states.

Meanwhile, in King v. Burwell, the court will decide whether tax credits that help low- and moderate-income people afford health coverage under the Affordable Care Act are legal.

The court heard arguments in March, and a ruling had not been announced at press time.

A ruling against the subsidies could cause millions of Americans who are already struggling economically to lose health care coverage.

Mel Wilson, NASW’s manager of Human Rights and Social Justice, said a court decision on whether to end the subsidies also comes at a time when as many as 30 states said they will participate in the ACA by expanding Medicaid coverage to low-income single individuals.

“It would be appalling to lose such a safety net resource just when it is proving to be increasingly effective,” Wilson said.

Meanwhile, NASW has long supported equal rights for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and trangender, and the legalization of same-sex marriage throughout the United States.

NASW and its chapters in Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky and Michigan joined the American Psychological Association and other organizations on an amicus brief sent to the U.S. Supreme Court that argues same-sex marriage should be legal.

The amicus brief pointed to scientific evidence that shows homosexuality is a normal expression of human sexuality and that gay men and lesbian women form committed, stable relationships that are equivalent to heterosexual ones, are no less fit to raise children, and the children from these relationships are no less psychologically well-adjusted.

Denying people the right to same-sex marriage is also a case of institutional stigma and contributes to negative treatment of LGBT people, the brief said.

“In short, the claim that allowing same-sex couples to marry undermines the institution of marriage and harms children is inconsistent with the scientific evidence,” the brief said.

To learn more about legal cases NASW is involved with and to read the amicus brief on Obergefell v. Hodges, visit the NASW Legal Defense Fund.