WASHINGTON—Kathy Ko Chin, president and CEO of the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF), issued the following statement in response to the Supreme Court of the United States’ recent rulings on marriage equality, polices affecting equal opportunity in higher education and the Voting Rights Act.
“The highest court’s rulings on key civil rights issues greatly impact Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders and all communities of color. APIAHF has followed these issues closely as part of our framework for stamping out health disparities and achieving health equity for all.
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) represented archaic views on the institution of marriage and families. We applaud the Supreme Court for striking down this antiquated measure and moving the country forward by upholding the principles of the Constitution and affirming equality in matrimony. In addition, the Court’s decision striking down Proposition 8 makes same-sex marriage legal in California, a victory for Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities in the state.
The Supreme Court’s decision moves us one step closer to achieving health equity. The decision now allows the federal government to recognize same-sex marriage, which will help eliminate barriers that same-sex married couples face in accessing health care and health insurance. This is key for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders who suffer disproportionately from chronic diseases that could be prevented if there was equal access to health insurance.
In addition, APIAHF works to address structural and institutional racism and fully supports race-conscious admission programs to promote equal educational opportunities for all students so they can thrive in culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
The Supreme Court’s decision in Fisher v. University of Texas correctly preserved the principle that universities may consider racial and ethnic diversity as one, of many, factors in their admissions policy.
To our disappointment, however, the Supreme Court struck down a key part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which is still needed to root out racial discrimination at the polls and to ensure that every American has the opportunity to vote. Voting is a time-honored and key part of our system and should not depend on one’s race or where they live.
Communities of color have long fought for equal access to the polls. Asian Americans have experienced discrimination in voting as states have enacted a growing number of voter identification laws designed to keep people of color, limited English speakers and the elderly away from the polls.
As a strong advocate for voting rights, APIAHF will continue to urge Congressional leaders to ensure that Asian Americans and other minorities are treated fairly in the voting process. ”