GLMA, American Academy of Nursing and Sullivan & Worcester Submit Amicus Brief with U.S. Supreme Court in Marriage Equality Cases


Research shows sexual orientation is an innate human characteristic that deserves the full and equal protection of the law

S&W Press Release
March 6, 2015

Washington, DC – March 6, 2015 – GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality, the American Academy of Nursing and Sullivan & Worcester submitted a friend-of-the-court brief to the U.S. Supreme Court today, providing expert scientific analysis in support of marriage equality in a set of cases the high court will hear in late April.

The amicus brief highlights the scientific evidence that "sexual orientation is an innate human characteristic that deserves the full and equal protection of the law." The brief cites decades of studies establishing that genetic, hereditary, hormonal and biological influences are major factors in determining sexual orientation. 

GLMA and the Academy, represented pro bono by the Boston law firm Sullivan & Worcester, partnered on the U.S. Supreme Court amicus brief to emphasize that the denial of marriage equality to same-sex couples is discriminatory and furthers stigma, which negatively impacts the health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. 

"We expect the scientific research we share in our brief to help the Court decide once and for all same-sex couples have the freedom to marry," said GLMA’s President Henry Ng, MD, MPH. "We are proud to partner with the Academy to unite the voice of the nation’s most accomplished leaders in nursing with the nation’s leaders in LGBT health to advocate for marriage equality and the health benefits it brings."

"The Academy strongly supports marriage equality and joined this brief as part of our broad commitment to human rights, and in recognition of the adverse health impact of discrimination and stigma perpetuated through the denial of marriage equality," said Academy President, Diana J. Mason, RN, PhD, FAAN. "In 2012, the Academy issued a statement asserting our position that marriage equality will contribute to achieving access to high-quality, comprehensive, culturally sensitive, dignified and respectful health care for all persons."

"GLMA has been at the forefront of making the scientific record clear throughout this quest for equality. We are excited to have a part in this historic moment," said Nicholas O’Donnell, a partner at Sullivan & Worcester and counsel of record on the brief.

The Supreme Court agreed in January to hear four marriage equality cases from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld bans on marriage or marriage-recognition in Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee and Kentucky. Several other federal appellate courts have recently ruled similar bans in other states unconstitutional. Oral arguments are scheduled for April 28, 2015, and a ruling by the Supreme Court by late June. 


About GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality
GLMA (previously known as the Gay & Lesbian Medical Association) is the largest and oldest association of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) health professionals, including physicians, nurses, physician assistants, behavioral health specialists and researchers. GLMA’s mission is to ensure equality in healthcare for LGBT individuals and healthcare professionals, using the expertise of GLMA members in public policy and advocacy, professional education, patient education and referrals and the promotion of research.  

About the American Academy of Nursing
The American Academy of Nursing ( serves the public and the nursing profession by advancing health policy and practice through the generation, synthesis and dissemination of nursing knowledge. The Academy's more than 2,300 fellows are nursing's most accomplished leaders in education, management, practice and research. They have been recognized for their extraordinary contributions to nursing and healthcare.

About Sullivan & Worcester LLP
Sullivan & Worcester is a leading corporate law firm advising clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to emerging businesses. With more than 185 lawyers in Boston, London, New York and Washington, D.C., the firm offers services in a wide range of areas, including corporate finance, banking, trade finance, securities and mutual funds, litigation, mergers and acquisitions, tax, real estate and REITs, private equity and venture capital, bankruptcy, environment and natural resources, climate change, renewable energy and water resources, regulatory law, and employment and benefits. For more information please visit  

Emily Kane-Lee, GLMA  

Elyse Petroni, AAN

Leah Schloss, Sullivan & Worcester