The medical aid-in-dying movement and the LGBT rights movement are deeply intertwined, helping each other achieve monumental progress over the years. From the charge to pass the nation’s first death-with-dignity act in 1994 to allowing same-sex partners to act as healthcare proxies for one another, the two movements have decades of crossover.
“Many of us who worked on helping people with AIDS to get the care they needed soon transitioned over to the end-of-life movement,” says Derianna Mooney, a retired Compassion & Choices volunteer. “It was mutually beneficial to have allies within the LGBT community, activists handling our issue, fighting for the rights for people to die with dignity.”
“During the AIDS crisis, our community developed a strong network of caring and supportive doctors with whom all subjects were on the table in order to survive. These open and forthright conversations saved countless lives. As members of the LGBT community age, continuing these open conversations on end-of-life matters is critical to having a peaceful death,” says Mark Dann, former Compassion & Choices LGBT outreach manager, now working as federal affairs director.
“It’s no coincidence that the first successful law passed in Oregon right at the height of the AIDS crisis. We worked with families who were witnessing their loved ones suffer so greatly and who were desperate for expanded end-of-life options,” Dann continues. “Our movement wouldn’t be anywhere without the LGBT rights movement.”
The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA) supports medical aid-in-dying bills in New Jersey, Massachusetts and Connecticut, and has voiced support for California’s End of Life Option Act, which was enacted on June 9.
We continue to work together with the LGBT community in support of autonomy and self determination, two of our Seven Principles for Person-Centered End-of-Life Care.