AIDS United CEO responds to two Supreme Court decisions

WASHINGTON — Jesse Milan Jr., president and CEO of AIDS United, issued the following statements after the U.S. Supreme Court issued its rulings in California v. Texas and Fulton v. City of Philadelphia.

The court found by a 7-2 majority that the plaintiffs in California v. Texas lacked the legal right to sue, known as standing. Because the plaintiffs lacked standing, the court did not address the underlying question of the ACA’s constitutionality.

A unanimous court found in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia that the city had violated the First Amendment rights of a faith-based social service agency that refused to certify same-sex couples as potential foster parents. In earlier cases, the court ruled that for religious liberties to be curtailed, the laws in question must be generally applicable and neutrally administered. Because Philadelphia’s system for city contracts allowed for individual exceptions to its nondiscrimination policy, the court said the policy was not applied neutrally to all foster care agencies.

Regarding California, Milan said: 

“People living with and vulnerable to HIV need health care. HIV prevention and treatment services are two of the most vital tools we have to end the HIV epidemic in the United States. The Affordable Care Act substantially removed many of the barriers to access to these services. And the ACA protects people living with HIV — and other preexisting conditions — from being rejected for health insurance.

“Thank goodness the law has once again withstood feckless attacks on its constitutionality.

“After more than a decade, conservatives need to stop playing politics with people’s health care. And they can start by expanding Medicaid in every state, a key feature of the ACA that will help people living with HIV, especially in the South.”

Regarding Fulton, Milan said: 

“Discrimination against LGBTQ people is wrong. Discrimination breeds stigma, and stigma fuels the HIV epidemic. It is impossible to end the HIV epidemic in the United States without also fighting to end discrimination against LGBTQ people.

“The Supreme Court had the opportunity to help end discrimination by saying that state-sanctioned discrimination against LGBTQ people is illegal. It chose not to.

“And so today’s decision is a muted victory. And it doesn’t end the myriad other ways that discrimination against LGBTQ people shows up in our country. In more than half the states, a person can be denied health care, evicted from their home or kicked out of a business that’s open to the public solely because the person is LGBTQ.

“No one should have to experience discrimination, and Congress needs to step up immediatley and protect LGBTQ people in every state from all forms of discrimintion by passing the Equality Act.”