Trump Administration Proposes Rollback of Gender Identity Protections

The Trump administration has formally proposed to revise Obama-era civil rights for transgender people in the nation’s health care system, eliminating “gender identity” as a factor in health care and leaning government policy toward recognizing only immutable characteristics of sex at birth.

The Department of Health and Human Services published its proposed regulation Friday, which eliminates gender identity protections created by a 2016 regulation inserted by the Obama administration that redefined discrimination “on the basis of sex” to include gender identity.gender identity protections

The Obama administration adopted the rule in question in 2016 to carry out a civil rights provision of the Affordable Care Act, known as Section 1557 creating these gender identity protections. That provision prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability in “any health program or activity” that receives federal financial assistance. The 2016 rule further defined the term “gender identity” to mean a person’s “internal sense of gender, which may be male, female, neither, or a combination of male and female, and which may be different from an individual’s sex assigned at birth.”

In December 2016, a federal judge in Fort Worth, Texas, ruled that “Congress did not understand ‘sex’ to include ‘gender identity,’” and the Trump administration, rather than appealing, has said it will bring the civil rights provision of the Affordable Care Act into compliance.

“When Congress prohibited sex discrimination, it did so according to the plain meaning of the term, and we are making our regulations conform,” said Roger Severino, the director of the Office for Civil Rights at the department in a statement announcing the new rules on Friday.

“The American people want vigorous protection of civil rights and faithfulness to the text of the laws passed by their representatives. The proposed rule would accomplish both goals,” he said.

Transgender rights groups reacted with alarm.

“The Trump-Pence administration’s latest attack threatens to undermine crucial nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people provided for under the Affordable Care Act,” said David Stacy, director of government affairs for the Human Rights Campaign, in a statement. “The administration puts LGBTQ people at greater risk of being denied necessary and appropriate health care solely based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Last year, Mr. Severino pushed for a legal definition of sex Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in education programs that receive government financial assistance.

“Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth,” the department proposed in the memo, which was obtained by The New York Times. “The sex listed on a person’s birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person’s sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence.”

NYTimes.com, by Erica L. Green and Abby Goodnough, May 24, 2019
 
Click here to red the entire article.

Alabama Same-Sex Marriages: Alabama passes law to eliminate marriage licenses to spite same-sex couples

Lawmakers have passed legislation that would eliminate marriage licenses in the state. The measure is widely seen as a punitive attack on the LGBTQ community after the Supreme Court legalized Alabama same-sex marriages years ago.

A license would no longer be required to get married under the new law. Instead, couples would file an affidavit that they were married and it would be recorded.

Judges in the state have been using a loophole to refuse to issue marriage licenses to gay couples already. The law says probate judges “may” issue licenses but does not require them to do so. Some judges refuse and couples have to go to a different judge to get the license.

The bill’s author, Republican state senator Greg Albritton, has pushed the bill since the court ruling. This is the first time it has passed both chambers. It now awaits Governor Kay Ivey’s signature.

Ivey, a far right Republican, recently signed the nation’s most restrictive abortion laws despite national outcry from both sides of the aisle. The measure effectively outlaws abortion – even in cases of rape and incest. She is expected to sign this bill as well.

Albritton has been trying to sell the legislation as a way to “respect” marriage equality by removing government permission altogether.

May 24, 2019, by Bill Browning, LGBTQNation.com

Click here to read the entire article.

Both Parents Are American. The U.S. State Department Says Their Baby Isn’t.

James Derek Mize is an American citizen, born and raised in the United States. His husband, who was born in Britain to an American mother, is a United States citizen, too.  Now the State Department is dictating the citizenship of their child.

But the couple’s infant daughter isn’t, according to the State Department.

She was born abroad to a surrogate, using a donor egg and sperm from her British-born father. Those distinct circumstances mean that, under a decades-old policy, she did not qualify for citizenship at birth, even though both her parents are American.

“It’s shocking,” said Mr. Mize, 38, a former lawyer who lives in Atlanta with his husband, Jonathan Gregg, a management consultant. The couple received a letter denying their daughter’s citizenship last month.

“We’re both Americans; we’re married,” Mr. Mize said. “We just found it really hard to believe that we could have a child that wouldn’t be able to be in our country.”

Their case illustrates the latest complication facing some families who use assisted reproductive technology, like surrogacy and in vitro fertilization, to have children. For years the techniques have set off provocative legal and ethical debates about what defines parenthood. Immigration and citizenship are the latest frontier in those debates.

At issue is a State Department policy, based on immigration law, that requires a child born abroad to have a biological connection to an American parent in order to receive citizenship at birth. That is generally not a problem when couples have babies the traditional way, but can prove tricky when only one spouse is the genetic parent.

The policy has come under intense scrutiny in recent months amid lawsuits arguing that the State Department discriminates against same-sex couples and their children by failing to recognize their marriages. Under the policy, the department classifies certain children born through assisted reproductive technology as “out of wedlock,” which triggers a higher bar for citizenship, even if the parents are legally married.

In one instance, a married Israeli-American gay couple had twin sons in Canada using sperm from each of the fathers. The biological son of the American received citizenship, but his brother, the biological son of the Israeli, did not. In February, a federal judge sided with the couple, calling the State Department’s interpretation of the immigration law “strained.” The department is appealing.

The government is also fighting a similar suit from a lesbian couple in London, who did not use a surrogate. One is American and one is Italian. They took turns conceiving and carrying their two children. Only the child born to the American mother was granted citizenship. Last week, a federal judge allowed the case to proceed, calling the family’s predicament “terrible” and “outrageous.”

Transgender dads tell doctors: ‘You can be a man and have a baby’

Transgender dads say they face misinformation, bias and a lack of understanding from the medical establishment when they decide to start a family.

When transgender dads, like Jay Thomas, 33, decide to get pregnant in 2016, he spoke to his physician.transgender dad

Thomas, a cook who lives in Louisville, Kentucky, explained to his doctor that he and his wife, Jamie Brewster, 33, a bank employee, are both transgender, and that he had been on testosterone for more than two years. The physician said Thomas had likely gone through early menopause, and that if they were able to conceive at all, he would have to go off the hormone for at least 18 months.

But none of that turned out to be true, according to Thomas, who gave birth to the couple’s son Dorian, 2, less than a year after that doctor’s appointment.

“We got pregnant in three months,” Thomas said.

One of the most persistent myths transgender men and nonbinary people hear from doctors is that testosterone has sterilized them, experts say. While testosterone generally blocks ovulation, trans men can get pregnant while taking it, particularly if they are not taking it regularly.

It’s just one example of the misinformation and discouragement transgender men say they face from the medical establishment when they decide to get pregnant — a problem advocates and experts blame on a lack of training and research around transgender health care, as well as doctors’ biases.

There is no data on how many transgender men and nonbinary people give birth in the United States each year, because medical systems track them as female, but experts believe the numbers are likely higher than many would expect. The number of people who identify as transgender is growing: A 2016 study from the Williams Institute found that 1.4 million adults in the U.S identify as transgender, which was double the estimate based on data from a decade earlier.

In Australia, where government agencies began tracking both sex and gender in official records in 2013, 54 transgender men gave birth in 2014, according to statistics from the country’s universal health care system. And a Dutch study published in the journal Human Reproduction in 2011 found that a majority of trans men reported wanting families.

But doctors, nurses and medical office staff are still adjusting to the idea that those who are pregnant may not identify as women. Transgender and nonbinary people describe gaps in medical professionals’ understanding ranging from an ultrasound technician calling them by the wrong name to doctors who tell them hormone therapy probably ruined their fertility. The consequences can be dire. A recently published case study described a transgender man who went to an emergency room with severe abdominal pain — but doctors were slow to realize that he was pregnant and in danger. The man delivered a stillborn baby several hours later.

nbcnews.com, May 19, 2019 by Julie Compton

Click here to read the entire article.

Sprinter Dutee Chand Becomes India’s First Openly Gay Athlete

A champion sprinter, Dutee Chand, with village roots has become India’s first openly gay professional athlete, less than a year after the country’s top court overturned a longstanding ban on gay sex.

A member of India’s national track and field team, Dutee Chand, 23, was previously known for fighting for the right to race against other women. She has hyperandrogenism, a condition that naturally produces high testosterone levels, and which in 2014 prompted the sport’s governing body to ban her from competition. The decision was reversed a year later after she challenged it in court.Dutee Chand

On Sunday, Dutee Chand was quoted by an Indian newspaper as saying that she was in a same-sex relationship with a woman from her rural village in eastern India. She said she was inspired to go public after September’s ruling by the Indian Supreme Court that unanimously struck down a colonial-era ban on consensual gay sex.

“I have always believed that everyone should have the freedom to love,” Ms. Chand said in an interview with The Sunday Express. “There is no greater emotion than love and it should not be denied.”

Many Indians are socially conservative, and go to great lengths to arrange marriages with the right families or castes. Countless gay people there have been shunned by their parents and persecuted by society, and few think that a same-sex marriage law is on the near horizon.

Ms. Chand said in the interview that she hoped to settle down with her partner sometime after the upcoming World Championships and the Olympic Games in Tokyo. She declined to name her partner, saying that she did not want her to become the object of undue attention.

Dutee Chand’s announcement — which came amid news that the country’s conservative prime minister, Narendra Modi, appeared headed for re-election — prompted jubilant responses from her longtime supporters.

New York Times, May 20, 2019 by Mike Ives

Click here to read the entire article.

2020 Democrats Slam ‘Cruel’ Trump Administration Policy Denying Citizenship to Kids of LGBT Couples

Mayor Pete Buttigieg, one of the 2020 Democrats running for president, the first presidential candidate to be in a same-sex marriage, wrote on Facebook the policy is ‘a sober reminder that we must continue to fight for equality.’

From the 2020 Democrats ‘ campaign trail to the halls of Congress, Democrats condemned a State Department policy that withholds American citizenship from some children of U.S. citizens who are born abroad.2020 Democrats

Their reactions came after a story by The Daily Beast highlighted the damage the policy has done to the families of same-sex couples.

The policy deems children born abroad via assisted reproductive technologies as having been born “out of wedlock,” even if their parents are legally married, creating legal hurdles to obtaining birthright citizenship that threaten to keep parents permanently separated from their infant children.

On Thursday evening, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) released a statement aggressively condemning the policy, which she called “unconscionable attack on American families” that “violates our Constitution.”

“Once again, the Trump Administration is demonstrating just how far they are willing to go to undermine our core values and advance their hateful agenda,” Pelosi said. “The State Department must uphold our laws, end this cruel and inhumane policy and treat every family with the dignity and respect that they deserve.”

Leading Democratic presidential candidates, too, called for the State Department to reverse the policy.

“If you are born to U.S. parents, you are entitled to U.S. citizenship, full stop,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). “This is just another example of the Trump administration’s shameful attacks on LGBTQ+ families.”

Posting on Facebook, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders called the policy “completely outrageous.”

“The Trump administration’s bigotry seems to have no limit,” Sanders said. “When we are in the White House this kind of discrimination will have no place in our government.”

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), who counts both the Kivitis and the Dvash-Bankses as constituents, tweeted that the policy is “a cruel attack on LGBTQ* families.”

DailyBeast.com, May 15, 2019 by Scott Bixby

Click here to read the entire article.

Case against State Department for refusing to recognize citizenship of child of binational lesbian couple goes forward

A district court said Wednesday that a case filed against the U.S. State Department for refusing to recognize the birthright citizenship of the son of a binational lesbian couple will go to trial, and he denied the government’s motion to dismiss it.

The case, filed by Immigration Equality, the country’s leading LGBTQ immigration rights organization, on behalf of Allison Blixt and her son Lucas Alexander Zaccari-Blixt challenged the U.S. State Department’s refusing to recognize birthright citizenship in children of lesbian parents.lgbt family planning

Blixt, who’s American, met her wife, Zaccari, a citizen of Italy, when she was on vacation in New York City. They wanted to stay together, but because of the Defense of Marriage Act (which was later struck down), Blixt could not sponsorZaccari loved for a permanent visa, so they decided to move to London. They got married and started a family, giving birth to their two boys, Lucas and Massi.

They conceived their children using their own eggs and sperm from an unknown donor.

U.S. law allows American citizens to pass citizenship onto their children, even when they are born abroad. The State Department recognized Massi as a citizen because he had been conceived and carried by Blixt; but denied his brother Lucas the same birthright, because he had been carried by his other mother.

Immigration Equality stepped in and filed a complaint with the U.S. State Department in behalf of the Zaccari-Blixt family. The lawsuit, which was filed in Jan. 2018, claimed that the policy disregarded the dignity of same-sex marriages by the birthright citizenship of the children of married same-sex couples. The State Department responded to the lawsuit by opposing the group’s demand that it acknowledge Lucas’ citizenship.

On Wednesday, Judge Emmet Sullivan decided that the case should go to trial.

“[He] didn’t rule on the merits, only that the couple had made allegations at this stage that were enough for the case to go forward. But the judge made clear that he had a problem with the real-world consequences of the State Dept’s position,” BuzzFeedNews reporter Zoe Tillman tweeted. “The govt argued the same rules would apply to an opposite-sex couple in this situation (one citizen + one non-citizen who have a kid overseas). The lawyer for the plaintiffs said the problem is this broadly affects same-sex couples (given practicalities of how they can have kids.)”

 
Click here to read the entire article.

Taiwan Legislature Approves Asia’s First Same-Sex Marriage Law

As tens of thousands of demonstrators filled the rainy streets of Taipei on Friday, lawmakers in Taiwan voted to legalize same-sex marriage, a first for Asia.

Same sex marriage in Taiwan!  “We want to marry!” supporters outside the legislature chanted in approval of the measure, as they applauded and waved signs and rainbow banners.

“On May 17th, 2019 in #Taiwan, #LoveWon,” President Tsai Ing-wen tweeted after the vote. “We took a big step towards true equality, and made Taiwan a better country.

An LGBT Flag Illustration with the flag of Taiwan

The legislature faced a deadline imposed by Taiwan’s constitutional court, which in 2017 struck down the Civil Code’s definition of marriageas exclusively between a man and woman. The court gave the government two years to revise the law, or same-sex couples would automatically be allowed to have their marriages registered by the local authorities.

“Love has won over hate, and equality has won over discrimination,” Annie Huang, acting director of Amnesty International Taiwan, said in a statement. “This is a moment to cherish and celebrate, but it has been a long and arduous campaign for Taiwan to become the first in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage.”

Taiwan has long been a leader of gay rights in Asia, a region where such rights have lagged, and the annual gay pride parade in Taipei is a magnet for gays and lesbians from countries where discrimination and unequal treatment is far more entrenched. In one of the harshest examples in the region, Brunei this year put into effect new laws that authorized executions by stoning for gay sex and adultery, although the country’s leader said it would maintain a de facto moratorium on the death penalty.

Ms. Tsai, who took office in 2016, said during her campaign that she supported same-sex marriage, and her left-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, which took control of the legislature for the first time that year, also generally favors such legislation.

But momentum for a same-sex marriage law had stalled as opponents, including some church and conservative groups, campaigned against the mandated changes. Voters overwhelmingly opposed same-sex marriage in referendums last year, and politicians have been slow to move forward out of fears of being punished in next year’s general election.

That left the government facing a May 24 deadline. Several gay couples said they planned to get married on that day, regardless of whether the legislature acts.

NYTimes,com, May 17, 2019 by Austin Ramzey

Click here to read the entire article.

More Than 100 Rabbis and Cantors Urge NY State to Legalize Surrogacy

The 118 Rabbis and other clergy members urged the passage of the NY Child-Parent Security Act, surrogacy.

The 118 Rabbis and other clergy members urged the passage of the NY Child-Parent Security Act  (surrogacy) in a letter Tuesday to the state’s House speaker, Carl Heastie, and Senate majority leader, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, both Democrats. Among the signatories are rabbis representing the Reform, Conservative and Orthodox movements.rabbis NY surrogacy

The bill, which has the support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, would legalize paid gestational surrogacy, in which a woman is compensated to carry a child not conceived using her eggs. Proponents say it allows those facing infertility and LGBTQ couples to have children, while detractors say the practice is immoral. The measure also would ease the process through which parents who enlist a third party to conceive establish a legal relationship with the child.

The letter — organized by the Protecting Modern Families Coalition, an alliance of organizations in support of the legislation — references Jewish tradition in arguing for the bill’s passage.

“From birth to Bar/Bat Mitzvah, marriage, and burial, at the core of most of the major Jewish life cycle events is family,” it reads. “As rabbis, we know the visceral, central importance for so many of our congregants of building a family.”

Among the signatories are Rabbis Sharon Kleinbaum of the LGBTQ synagogue Congregation Beit Simchat Torah; Rick Jacobs, who heads the Reform movement; Dov Linzer, president of the liberal Orthodox Yeshivat Chovevei Torah rabbinical school; and Rabbi Avram Mlotek, an Orthodox rabbi who announced last month that he will perform same-sex weddings. The UJA-Federation of New York and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Reform movement’s rabbinical arm, also joined the letter.

The Jerusalem Post – JPost.com, BY JOSEFIN DOLSTEN/JTA, May 15, 2019

Click here to read the entire article.

US Department of State Fighting Citizenship of Gay Couple’s Son

Pompeo, Department of State, appeals court ruling that bi-national family’s children are American

More than a year after the US Department of State shrugged off existing same-sex marriage and immigration laws and rejected citizenship for a child of two gay dads, the agency is now appealing a federal judge’s ruling that the child is an American citizen.department of state

As it turns out, the Department of State has stuck to its posture in this kind of case for years — dating back before the Trump administration.

Israeli citizen Elad Dvash-Banks and American citizen Andrew Dvash-Banks were married in Canada in 2010 and had two sons via surrogates there in 2016 before moving to California. Andrew is the biological father of Aiden and Elad is the biological father of Ethan, but both fathers are legal parents of both kids. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) stipulates that the children — born in Canada — should both be American citizens because at least one of their parents is an American citizen.

Yet, the Rex Tillerson-led State Department argued otherwise, saying that Ethan — the boy whose biological father is not an American citizen — is also not American. In deciding the question of US citizenship for the two Canadian-born children, the State Department went so far as to order DNA tests on both of the boys.

The State Department conclusion would leave young Ethan as the only member of the Dvash-Banks not eligible for permant residency in the US; his father qualifies as the spouse of an American citizen.

Andrew and Elad, represented by the LGBTQ-focused legal group Immigration Equality, decided in January 2018 to challenge that finding in federal court in the Central District of California. The court ruled in February of this year that the boy is a “US citizen at birth” and gave the State Department — now headed up by Mike Pompeo — 60 days to appeal.

On the 60th day, the Trump administration moved forward with an appeal in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, despite that court having twice ruled that the INA should be interpreted that there need not need be a biological link between children and their legal parents in order for them to be recognized as US citizens as long as one parent is an American citizen.

gaycitynew.nyc, May 12, 2019 by Matt Tracy

Click here to read the entire article.