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Case arguing for equal treatment of patients regardless of their sexual orientation.


In August 2006, Jonathan Shuffield was denied a medical prescription because he is a gay man. Shuffield’s doctor claimed that his religious beliefs gave him a right to withhold care from Shuffield that he routinely provides to heterosexual patients. Lambda Legal represented Shuffield in negotiations with his former doctor and the medical center where he experienced this discrimination, and achieved a successful settlement designed to provide broad protections to other lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender patients who receive health care services from the medical center.


Washington’s Law Against Discrimination prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in public accommodations, which includes medical care providers. This law serves as a safeguard against discrimination for LGBT people in an area of paramount importance — access to health care services.

Lambda Legal’s Impact

Lambda Legal secured an agreement with Shuffield’s former doctor and medical center to take significant steps to protect other LGBT patients against discrimination. These practices now serve as a model for other health care providers. Some of these practices include: providing training about culturally competent care for LGBT patients to physicians and staff members, incorporating the training into each new employee and physician’s orientation, amending the provider’s antidiscrimination policy to expressly preclude discrimination against LGBT people and communicating the provider’s commitment to nondiscriminatory practices by publishing its policy on its website and in all employee manuals.


  • November 2006 Lambda Legal represents Shuffield in settlement negotiations with his former doctor and medical center to protect LGBT patients against further acts of discrimination.
  • January 2007 The case is successfully resolved.