Dozens of anti-LGBTQ state bills already proposed in 2020, advocates warn

Many of the anti-LGBTQ state bills focus on transgender youth, including legislation in South Dakota that would make it a felony to provide trans health care to minors.

Like most high school students, Aerin Geary does not typically pay attention to state legislation. However, the South Dakota teenager has been closely following House Bill 1057, a Republican anti-LGBTQ state bills proposal that would make it a felony for medical professionals to provide transgender health care to minors.anti-LGBTQ state bills

“This bill makes me feel scared, since this is something that affects me deeply,” Geary, 15, who identifies as nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns, told NBC News. “Transitioning is something that I’ve been hoping to get and been yearning for for years.

The high school sophomore is afraid that if the legislation passes, plans to take puberty-suppressing medication will be delayed indefinitely.

“I recently managed to convince my family to allow me to start transitioning, and I’m so close to getting there,” Geary said. “To take it away from me when I’m so close would be a huge blow to my hope.”

HB 1057, which successfully passed out of committee on Wednesday, would make providing certain forms of gender-affirming medical care to minors — including the prescription of puberty blockers — a Class Four felony, which in South Dakota carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison. Proponents say the bill is needed to protect children from rushing into a “life-changing” decision, while critics say it interferes with the doctor-patient relationship and could cause physical and psychological harm to trans youth.

South Dakota’s trans health care bill is not the only state legislation that has lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer advocates sounding the alarm. In fact, they say it’s just one of at least 25 anti-LGBTQ state bill s that have been proposed so far in 2020.

Many of the bills, like South Dakota’s, focus on transgender youth, but a number of others deal with nondiscrimination protections and religious exemptions. Chase Strangio, deputy director of the ACLU’s LGBT and HIV Project, called this legislative session “one of the most hostile” for LGBTQ people in recent years.

Trans youth and health care

Bills seeking to limit transgender health care for minors have been introduced in at least seven states this month — all by Republican lawmakers.

Like South Dakota, Florida and Colorado have introduced bills that carry criminal penalties. The “Vulnerable Child Protection Act,” one of four bills proposed in Florida last week that have been opposed by LGBTQ advocates, would make providing certain medical care or treatments to transgender minors — including nonsurgical care, like hormone therapy — a second-degree felony. Medical practitioners could face up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Tennessee lawmakers pass legislation allowing adoption agencies to deny gay couples

Tennessee lawmakers are already making waves on the first day of the Legislative Session with passing a bill that would allow some adoption agencies to deny gay couples.

TennesseeIn the first bill voted on for the year, Tennessee lawmakers have passed HB 836/SB 1304. The bill would allow faith-based, private adoption agencies to deny certain couples. The bills prohibit privately licensed agencies from being required to perform, assist, consent to, refer, or participate in foster placement or adoption of a child with a family that would violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions.

The bill passed the House last year and Senators voted to pass the measure on Tuesday. On Tuesday, 20 lawmakers voted yes and 6 voted no. Lt. Gov. Randy McNally declined to vote on the measure.

Fox17.com by Kaylin Jorge, January 14, 2020

Click here to read the entire article.

More LGBTQ millennials plan to have kids regardless of income, survey finds

 The price of parenthood can be costly for LGBTQ millennials, and all LGBTQ families, especially those dependent on assisted reproductive technology.LGBTQ millenials

Since they married in 2015, LGBTQ millennials, Jonathan Hobgood, 37, and his husband, Kerry Johnson, 36, have wanted to be dads. At first, the couple saw adoption as the best path to parenthood, but South Carolina, where they live, is one of 10 states with religious exemption laws that make it more difficult for same-sex couples to foster and adopt, and they worried that adopting would set them up for a legal nightmare down the road.

“Our concern was that if we did a private adoption and the birth mother decided a couple of years later that she wanted her child back, we would be in for a rather extensive legal battle to try to keep the child,” Hobgood told NBC News. “So we just decided, ‘Well, let’s take ourselves down the surrogacy path from there.’”

In reality, a court-ordered private adoption would have provided the secure, legal parent-child relationship Hobgood and Johnson were looking for, but it is common for prospective parents to have misconceptions about how the law treats parental rights, according to Denise Brogan-Kator, chief policy officer at Family Equality.

The couple did their research. The cost of hiring a female surrogate, they learned, would be steep — $120,000 to $150,000, a price that Hobgood, a project specialist for a medical insurance company, and Kerry, a management analyst with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, could hardly afford. But it did not deter them.

“I knew I wanted to be a child’s father,” Hobgood said. “I really just wanted to go through and enjoy bringing up this wonderful child who is a part of our family.”

Hobgood and his husband are among an increasing number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people in the U.S. planning to have children, according to data released this year by Family Equality, a national nonprofit that advocates for LGBTQ families. And despite the additional financial barriers for many prospective parents in this group, this increased desire to have children was found across income levels, according to a report the group released this month, “Building LGBTQ+ Families: The Price of Parenthood.”

Family Equality polled LGBTQ millennials -500 LGBTQ and 1,004 non-LGBTQ adults, and found that the desire to become parents is nearly identical among both lower- and higher-income lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. Forty-five to 53 percent of LGBTQ people between the ages of 18 and 35 are planning to become parents for the first time or add another child to their family (compared to 55 percent for their non-LGBTQ counterparts, a gap that has narrowed significantly compared to older generations).And those making less than $25,000 a year plan to have children at a similar rate to those making over $100,000, according to the report.

Amanda Winn, the organization’s chief program officer, was surprised by the findings.

“I was expecting that folks who were living at the poverty line would report lower rates of wanting to bring children into the home knowing that finances were tight, but that’s not the case,” Winn told NBC News. “That innate, strong desire to have families exists regardless of income levels.”

LGBTQ prospective parents are more likely to face financial hurdles than their heterosexual peers, according to the report. Reasons include their relatively lower annual household incomes and the additional costs associated with having a child using an option other than sexual intercourse, which is considered by only 37 percent of LGBTQ people planning to start their families or have more children.

Assisted reproductive technology: ‘an impossible barrier’ for some

Thanks to advancements in assisted reproductive technology (ART), such as artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization and surrogacy, more LGBTQ people can have children through nontraditional methods, and interest is growing. Forty percent of LGBTQ people are considering such technology to conceive children, according to a Family Equality survey published in February — but many of these prospective parents will pay for it out of their own pockets, and the technology can be expensive.

“Most LGBTQ+ individuals will learn that their health insurance plan does not cover the cost of fertility treatments at all, and, if they do, the individual or family unit must prove that they have been ‘trying’ to conceive for 6-12 months before coverage begins,” the Family Equality report states. “This stipulation in the policy results in high monthly expenses for some and creates an impossible barrier for others.”

nbcnews.com, by Julie Compton December 27, 2019

Click here to read the entire article.

Taiwan Surrogacy – After gay marriage law passes, Taiwan emerges as new market for LGBT+ surrogacy

Taiwan Surrogacy – After gay marriage law passes, Taiwan emerges as new market for LGBT+ surrogacy

On Geoffrey Li’s 40th birthday last year, he put aside his dream of an early retirement on an idyllic island and instead decided to raise a child in Taiwan with the assistance of surrogacy in Southeast Asia.Taiwan surrogacy

Li and his husband — whose twin boys are now three months old — are among an increasing number of gay couples in Taiwan becoming parents through surrogacy even though the procedure is illegal on the self-ruled island deemed a wayward province by China.

 

Taiwan became the first place in Asia to legalize gay marriage in May and more than 2,000 same sex couples have since wed, prompting a rush of commercial surrogacy agencies to head to Taiwan to help more LGBT+ couples seeking to start families.

“Having a child in the world to care for, who will return our love unconditionally, is an amazing experience we did not expect to have,” Li said.

Globally, the popularity of surrogacy — where a surrogate mother is either implanted with a sperm and egg or becomes pregnant using her own egg — is soaring, particularly among LGBT+ couples who want to become parents.

Global fertility services were estimated in an initial valuation to be worth about $21 billion in 2018 with the industry forecast to grow to $41 billion by 2026, according to India-based market research firm Data Bridge.

Surrogacy laws around the world vary.

For example, Taiwan, France and Germany prohibit all forms of surrogacy, while Britain, Canada and New Zealand allow some forms of altruistic surrogacy but it is illegal to pay a woman for her services.

Taiwan’s Assisted Reproduction Act forbids any form of surrogacy and any attempts to amend laws, as recently as 2017, have failed due to opposition from women and children’s rights groups.

Conservative groups, such as the Coalition for the Happiness of Our Next Generation, have actively campaigned against LGBT+ parenting and marriage equality.

But although two-thirds of Taiwanese voters — about 7 million people — opposed changing the country’s civil code to recognize same-sex marriage in a 2018 referendum, parliament in May passed a law legalizing gay marriage.

New frontier

Under current laws, same-sex couples can only adopt children who is biologically related to at least one of them, with activists marking this as one of the next frontiers in the fight for LGBT+ equality on the island of 23 million people.

The Taiwan LGBT Family Rights Advocacy (TLFRA) group said they are in contact with at least 300 “rainbow families” and expect the number of same-sex parents to rise as the new gay marriage law spurred visibility and acceptance.

“Part of the (LGBT+) community is celebrating, while part of the community has a lot of fighting to do,” said Chu Chiajong, administrative secretary of the TLFRA.

This has been encouraged by the arrival of commercial surrogacy agencies, mainly from the United States, in Taiwan where hundreds of gay couples are willing to pay up to $140,000 to start a family — almost 10 times the average annual salary.

There is no legislation concerning surrogacy at the federal level in the United States and some states allow commercial surrogacy arrangements.

Men Having Babies, a New York-based non-profit that helps gay men become fathers through surrogacy, hosted its first conference for prospective Asian gay parents in Taipei in March.

About 320 people attended, forcing the organizers to request a space twice the size of the room originally booked.

“People were revelling in it. They were proud of the fact this was happening,” said group founder Ron Poole-Dayan, who was part of one of the first same-sex couples in the United States to father children through gestational surrogacy.

American Fertility Services, San Diego Fertility Center and International Surrogacy Center were among the sponsors of the event, which included a panel on budgeting, testimonies from parents and surrogates and on-site consultations with clinics.

Croatian court allows gay couple to become foster parents

A Croatian gay couple are set to become foster parents after a landmark ruling by a Zagreb court, local media reported. The couple filed a lawsuit after authorities abruptly rejected their bid to foster children.

A Croatian court in Zagreb paved the way for a same-sex couple to foster children in Croatia, overruling a previous rejection by a child welfare center, according to Croatian media.Croatian court

“We are overjoyed,” one of the men, Ivo Segota, told the Jutarnji list daily.

Segota entered a so-called life partnership with Mladen Kozic in 2015. In 2017, they applied to become foster parents with the Zagreb Social Services Center.

“We were received very warmly and nicely … because Zagreb has a chronic deficit of foster homes, especially those who have the conditions and desire to foster several children, which forces the centers to separate biological siblings,” Segota said.

Despite successfully passing multiple tests, the center unexpectedly broke off communication and eventually rejected their plea. The provided explanation, according to Segota, was that there were no legal conditions for them to become foster parents as a life partnership couple.

The couple appealed the decision to the Family Ministry, but their appeal was rejected. They then sued against the decision.

Under Croatian law, same-sex marriages are not allowed. Life partnerships are equal with heterosexual marriages in all aspects except one — adopting children. The couple’s attorney, Sanja Bezbradica Jelavic, argued that keeping the two from becoming foster parents amounted to discrimination.

DM.com, December 20, 2019

Click here to read the entire article.

NY Health Department to begin issuing nonbinary death certificates in 2020

New Yorkers who didn’t identify as male or female in life will no longer be labeled as such in death, the Health Department announced Tuesday by introducing nonbinary death certificates.

Beginning in January, the roughly 54,000 death certificates the department issues each year will have a third gender option — “X” — or nonbinary death certificates, in addition to male and female markers.nonbinary death certificates

Trans men and women will still be identified as male or female on their death certificates, according to a spokesperson for the department.

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson called the move “another valuable step to honor the identity of those who have passed.” First Lady Chirlane McCray applauded the change as “a clear message to nonbinary New Yorkers that we respect and honor their fundamental rights in every phase of life.”

Records like amended birth certificates, statements from the deceased person, medical records and other documents could all be used to determine the deceased person’s gender identity, along with input from the decedent’s loved ones, health officials said.

“What might appear like a small change to some, is in fact everything to many,” said City Council member Carlos Menchaca. “In death as in life, we want dignity and respect.”

The department will also allow families to apply for retroactive changes to old death certificates.

The City Council voted in 2014 to ease requirements for gender identity changes to birth certificates. Previously, applicants had to submit a legal name change and provide evidence of “convertive” surgery. The new rule took effect in 2015, and more than 1,600 gender-revised birth certificates have been issued to New Yorkers since. So far this year, 362 people have applied for a gender change on their birth certificates.

BrooklynEagle.com, December 19, 2019 by Alex Williamson

Click here to read the entire article.

The Impact of Trump’s Discriminatory Policies on LGBTQ+ Americans

LGBTQ+ people already face discrimination. A new HHS proposal would only make those problems worse.

On November 1, 2019, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking along with a “Notice of Nonenforcement” which states the agency will not enforce nondiscrimination protections put in place by the Obama administration in December 2016. These protections were enacted to ensure lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) people would not experience discrimination by any entity receiving federal grants from HHS. To comply with these protections, the grantees — including foster and adoption agencies — were also directed to treat persons in same-sex marriages as equal to persons in different-sex marriages, in line with the 2015 Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges.LGBTQ+.Discrimination

If enacted, the New York Times has reported that the proposed HHS rule change could remove sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes. Once the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register, the public has 30 days to submit comments. After that point, if HHS decides to finalize the proposed changes, any organization receiving federal funds from HHS will have the ability to discriminate against individuals who are LGBTQ+ on religious grounds. Such scenarios include allowing agencies receiving HHS funds to bar would-be adoptive or foster parents from taking care of children explicitly because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

As the largest university-wide LGBTQ+ health research center in the U.S., the Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing (ISGMH) at Northwestern University conducts scientific research on the physical and mental health of LGBTQ+ people. It is already well established that lesbian, gay, and bisexual people face high levels of discrimination. Research has consistently found that such discrimination manifests itself in the form of tangible and quantifiable health disparities.

For instance, in Texas, research has shown that LGBTQ+ people experience disparate rates of food insecurity, housing insecurity, housing access, and healthcare. Other research has found that “[LGBTQ+] youth and young adults are 120 percent more likely to experience homelessness than their straight and cisgender peers” and that “[LGBTQ+] youth continue to be disproportionately represented among homeless youth in our country, and their experiences of homelessness continue to be characterized by violence, discrimination, poor health, and unmet needs.” These disparities have profound effects upon the immediate health of [LGBTQ+] persons, and they also reverberate throughout the wider society with great costs (in terms of public spending and human suffering).

Here at ISGMH, we have found that discrimination takes a particular kind of toll on the health of LGBTQ+ youth, including mental health disparities which affect trans, nonbinary, and gender diverse youth. We have also found that young men who are sexual minorities experience high levels of victimization and are at a higher risk for mental health and substance use problems compared with heterosexual youth; that the cumulative effects of victimization experienced by LGBTQ+ youth result in a higher risk for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder; and that LGBTQ+ youth have a higher prevalence of mental disorder diagnoses than youth in national samples.

Out.com, November 19, 2019 BY STEVEN W. THRASHER, PHD, SARAH QUAIN, AND BRIAN MUSTANKSKI, PHD

Click here to read the full article.

Adoption Groups Could Turn Away L.G.B.T. Families Under Trump Proposed Adoption Rule

The Trump administration seeks to roll back an Obama-era adoption rule that classified sexual orientation and gender identity as classes protected from discrimination.

A proposed rule by the Trump administration would allow foster care and adoption agencies to deny their services to L.G.B.T. families on faith-based grounds.Trump adoption

The proposal would have “enormous” effects and touch the lives of a large number of people, Denise Brogan-Kator, chief policy officer at Family Equality, an advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families, said on Saturday.

The Department of Health and Human Services on Friday released the proposed rule, which would roll back a 2016 discriminationregulation instituted by the administration of President Barack Obama that included sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes.

Any organization — including foster care and adoption agencies or other entities that get department funding — is “now free to discriminate” if it wants to, Ms. Brogan-Kator said.

The proposed rule could be published in the Federal Register as early as Monday, followed by a 30-day comment period. After that, the comments will close and it will become final rule.

Critics, such as Ms. Brogan-Kator, said the rule would allow organizations to place their personal religious beliefs above the needs of children in their care, but the administration countered that it was not preventing L.G.B.T. people from adopting.

“The administration is rolling back an Obama-era rule that was proposed in the 12 o’clock hour of the last administration that jeopardizes the ability of faith-based providers to continue serving their communities,” the White House said in a statement on Saturday. “The federal government should not be in the business of forcing child welfare providers to choose between helping children and their faith.”

According to the Adoption Network, there are more than 400,000 children in the foster care system in the United States. More than 114,000 cannot be returned to their families and are waiting to be adopted.

The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law estimated in a report that 114,000 same-sex couples in 2016 were raising children in the United States. Same-sex couples with children were far more likely than different-sex couples with children to have an adopted child, 21.4 percent versus 3 percent, the report found.

nytimes.com by Derrick Bryson Taylor, November 2, 2019

Click here to read the entire article.

‘This baby was meant to be ours’: A gay couple’s journey to become parents

‘This baby was meant to be ours’: A gay couple’s journey to become parents

When Kraig Wiedenfeld and Bill Johnson decided they were ready to start a family and wanted a baby biologically related to one of them, they did what a small but growing number of gay couples with their desire do: They found a surrogate to help them.step parent adoption

As chronicled in The Washington Post last year, the two men, then married for four years, embarked on a journey both complicated and expensive that required: sperm from Weidenfeld, an anonymous egg donor and a young woman to carry the baby.

Christina Fenn had already carried three babies — including a set of twins — for two other same-sex couples, when a surrogacy agency matched her to Wiedenfeld and Johnson.

Before becoming a surrogate, Fenn and her husband, Brian, had two sons of their own. She loved being pregnant and longed to help those who couldn’t conceive children.

Assisted reproduction and surrogacy have been around for years, but these days gay men who can afford the cost are choosing this route to parenthood, experts say.

Sometimes, however, desire and hope — and in Wiedenfeld and Johnson’s case, advanced reproductive science — are not enough to guarantee a baby. A first effort resulted in a miscarriage just a month after the embryo transfer. The second effort had the same outcome, and an even heavier emotional toll for all involved.

But the two men and Fenn had contractually agreed on three embryo transfers, leaving them one final chance. On a crisp day last spring, nearly nine months later, that chance came due.

“Are you ready to be a dad?” Fenn’s eager voice said at the other end of the line.

Weidenfeld and Johnson raced from New York City to the hospital in Connecticut just in time for the birth of a seven-pound, 19.5-inch boy, soon to be known as Teddy.

“It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen,” Johnson said.

After passing the baby around among Fenn, her husband and the two new dads, Weidenfeld turned to Fenn and said, “Look what you’ve done for us. This is not the end of our story together. This is just the beginning.”

“I will be there for every birthday party and special occasion,” Fenn vowed, smiling. “I hope to always be in their lives,” she said of the family.

The number of children born through surrogacy is unknown, but surrogacy agencies say the demand for surrogates has noticeably risen in recent years. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, 738 babies were born via surrogacy in 2004; in 2014, that the number was 2,807.

Victoria Ferrara, founder and legal director at Worldwide Surrogacy, says about 50 percent of the 80 to 100 surrogacy arrangements her organization facilitates involve gay parents. She estimates the number of babies born through surrogacy every year ranges from 2,500 to 5,000 worldwide.

Washingtonpost.com, by Sydney Page, October 26, 2019

Click here to read the entire article.

Northern Ireland Set to Legalize Abortion and Same-Sex Marriage

The collapse of local government allowed Parliament to step in and bring the Northern Ireland ’s laws in line with Britain’s principles of human rights.

Traditionally conservative Northern Ireland is about to legalize both abortion and same-sex marriage, a head-snapping about-face that was imposed on the territory by the British Parliament.Ireland gay

The changes, bitterly resisted by anti-abortion and church groups, were mandated in an amendment to a routine bill on governance of Northern Ireland that Parliament passed in July amid a power vacuum created by the collapse of the region’s governing assembly nearly three years ago.

The amendment will go into effect at midnight on Monday, weeks after the High Court in Belfast rebuffed a legal challenge, ruling that Northern Ireland’s 158-year-old abortion laws are incompatible with the United Kingdom’s human rights commitments.

The judgment was a major victory for women’s rights activists, who had felt left behind after the Republic of Ireland voted to legalize abortion last year. Although Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom, and the majority of its people say they would like abortion to be made available, the regional power-sharing government had blocked abortion reform before collapsing in 2017 over sectarian divides.

British lawmakers saw the political paralysis as an opportunity, and, during a Parliamentary sitting in July, overwhelmingly voted to legalize same-sex marriage and abortion. While both have been hot-button issues in the United States and other countries, same-sex marriage has not stirred the intense reaction in Northern Ireland that the lifting of the abortion ban has.

At the Northern Ireland Assembly’s mammoth building in Stormont on Monday, lawmakers reconvened for the first time in nearly three years in a last-ditch and almost certainly futile attempt to prevent the new abortion law from going into effect.

As they met, groups of activists from both sides of the issue faced off on the grounds outside. “Pro-life, that’s a lie — you don’t care if women die,” one group chanted as opposing protesters held up pictures of fetuses emblazoned across signs that read “Save me, be my voice, please let me live.”

NYTimes.com by Ceylan Yeginsu, October 21, 2019

Click here to read the entire article.