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

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How will LGBT history be taught in New Jersey schools after new law?

New Jersey schools will teach LGBT history under a new state law, but what does that mean for the classroom? That may depend on where you live.

The law requires that middle and high school students learn about the social, political and economic contributions of LBGT individuals, but leaves it up to local districts to determine how to teach those lessons.  New Jersey schools and LGBT history is now a part.New Jersey schools LGBT

School boards have to update social studies standards — a process that will unfold locally in hundreds of school districts — in time for the 2020-21 school year.

“I envision each board of education will set policy or set a foundation for the curriculum that is age-appropriate, and I don’t think that’s difficult,” said Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, D-Englewood, one of the primary sponsors of the legislation.

Huttle offered examples of potential lessons: books about children with two moms or dads, or lessons on the achievements of leaders like Barbra “Babs” Siperstein, the transgender activist from Jersey City who died Feb. 3.

“When looking at someone like Babs, or Harvey Milk, or the Stonewall riots, these materials are readily available to implement and to teach students, for students to understand that there are differences,” Huttle said.

North Jersey Record, by Hannan Adely, January 7, 2020

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NYS Lawmakers Reviving Paid Gestational Surrogacy Push

Will Cuomo’s help prove key in opening up option, gestational surrogacy, important to gay couples?

The contested effort to legalize compensated gestational surrogacy in New York State is underway again after the legislative push faltered last year in the face of criticism from a wide range of voices, including out lesbian Assemblymember Deborah Glick of Manhattan.Glick betrayal

Governor Andrew Cuomo, who was among the chief backers of the bill last year, has included gestational surrogacy on his State of the State agenda for 2020 — which he will lay out in a January 8 address — signaling his steadfast intentions to prioritize the legislation this year.

The lawmakers who carried the bill last year, out gay State Senator Brad Hoylman of Manhattan and Assemblymember Amy Paulin of Westchester, are also moving ahead with plans to revive the legislation this year.

New York is one of the few remaining states with an outright ban on paid gestational surrogacy, which entails a prospective parent or parents compensating a person to carry a baby who is not biologically related to the carrier. Hoylman, who led the bill to passage in the Senate last year, has two children through gestational surrogacy with his husband, David Sigal.

Hoylman and other lawmakers have touted the legislation’s bill of rights that they say boasts the strongest protections in the nation for surrogates and requires parents to cover all medical and legal fees for them. The bill would also address the “second parent adoption” process by removing remaining barriers couples could face to the non-biological parent’s rights regarding their child.

Despite clearing the Senate in 2019, the legislation encountered resistance in the Assembly, where Glick blew off her previous commitment to support it and instead was among the critics arguing that women carrying the babies could be exploited and that the expensive surrogacy process is essentially available only to wealthy prospective parents who can fork over tens of thousands of dollars to have children that way.

The legislative effort was ambushed on multiple fronts. Opponents included voices as disparate as longtime feminist leader Gloria Steinem, the Catholic Church, and trans-exclusionary radical feminists (TERFs), a group of transphobes who have emerged primarily from the United Kingdom aggressively opposing transgender rights, surrogacy rights, and sex work decriminalization. The transphobes hijacked a City Hall rally opposing sex work decriminalization last year, holding up a sign that read, “NO to the sex trade, surrogacy, and transgende­rism.”

In the final days of the 2019 legislative session late last spring, Paulin told Gay City News she was still trying to whip votes for the bill in a last-ditch effort that proved unsuccessful. On June 20, after the bill had died for the session, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said, “Many members, including a large majority of women in our conference, have raised important concerns that must be properly addressed before we can move forward.” He stressed the importance of prioritizing the “health and welfare” of women and said he looked forward to “continuing this conversation in the coming months.”

How exactly lawmakers plan to address those concerns is not clear this early in the year, but Paulin and Hoylman told Gay City News on January 2 that they are continuing to work with advocates and legislators to bolster the bill. Paulin, noting an example, pointed to the rigorous medication and hormone treatment that the women who are egg donors in the surrogacy process must adhere to. She said she is in touch with experts to navigate the best path forward in addressing those concerns.

GayCityNews.com, by Matt Tracy, January 3, 2020

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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

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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

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Ireland to List Both Same-Sex Parents on Child’s Birth Certificate

There’s a major loophole in Ireland in the Same-sex birth certificate new regulations, however.

Ireland will soon allow both same-sex parents to be listed on their child’s birth certificate for the first time.Ireland gay

On Monday, Health Minister Simon Harris announced that the Emerald Isle will be moving forward with new regulations intended to prevent discrimination against LGBTQ+ families. Under current policy, only the parent that is biologically related to a child is permitted to have their name printed on the baby’s birth records.

The updated guidelines will make room for same-sex couples who concieve using a sperm donor to both be considered their child’s legal parents.

Under current procedure, a lesbian who uses an anonymous sperm donor to have a baby with her legally wedded wife would have to apply for guardianship to have any rights to the child. Ireland voted in favor of marriage equality in May 2015 in a historic referendum, with 62 percent of voters supporting the freedom to marry.

However, there remain loopholes in the law that will continue to be used to target gay male couples. The proposed updates do not cover same-sex parents who conceieve using IVF, meaning that a gay man will not automatically be deemed his child’s legal guardian if his husband uses an egg donor to have a baby. He would be forced to go through an expensive, taxing legal process to claim that right. 

Equality for Children, a nonprofit which campaigned to raise awareness of the discriminatory policies, blasted the new regulations. In a statement, Founder Ranae Von Meding claimed the updates are “not a win” for same-sex parents.

“The signing of this commencement order has already been delayed seven times over the last five years, and only a fraction of LGBT+ families and their children will be covered by it,” said Von Meding, who has two children with her wife. “My family, along with many others, will continue to be left behind.”

Von Meding told the Irish women’s news site Her that “50 percent of children would be left behind by this legislation.

out.com, November 4, 2019 by Nico Lang

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New NY legislation prevents courts from denying child adoptions to petitioners that are already legally-recognized parents

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced he signed legislation (S.3999/A.460) prohibiting New York State courts from denying child adoptions to petitioners who are already a legally-recognized parent solely on that basis.

The bill, signed by Cuomo, protects parents whose names were not on the birth certificate, same-sex couples, and parents who had a child through surrogacy from being denied adoptions when the parent petitioning is already recognized as the child’s parent.parent adoption

“All parents deserve the same rights and the same recognition under the law – period – and it’s unconscionable that this isn’t the case in every corner of this nation,” Governor Cuomo said. “These new protections will help ensure that all families are treated with fairness and equality and that no parent encounters unreasonable barriers in a court of law.”

“We are thankful to the countless same-sex couples who provide loving homes for children across New York,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “Today’s action will protect the rights of these couples and furthers our commitment to ensure equality for the LGBTQ community.”

Senator Brad Hoylman said, “While New York’s laws provide strong legal protections for LGBTQ families like my own, sadly that’s not the case everywhere. With the passage of this law, we are reaffirming that non-biological parents have access to adoption proceedings in every New York court, regardless of whether state law already recognizes them as the legal parent of their children. By allowing these adoptions, we give parents traveling or moving outside New York State the opportunity to keep their families legally secure. I thank Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Senator Velmanette Montgomery, and Assembly Member Amy Paulin for their work in passing this vital legislation, and Governor Cuomo for his continued support of the LGBTQ community.”

Assembly Member Amy Paulin said, “Despite the fact that judges already have the ability to grant adoption petitions and routinely have done so, there have been times where these petitions have been denied, causing surprise and stressful uncertainty for same-sex couples. With this law, we provide a guarantee and security that parents’ rights are recognized, both in New York and in other jurisdictions.”

While the spouse of a woman who gives birth to a child is presumed to be the child’s parent, same-sex couples find themselves in a legally precarious position when traveling beyond New York State, in places that do not fully respect the rights of non-biological parents. Under the new law, a New York adoption would be honored in another jurisdiction. This gives children the security that both their parents will be legally recognized wherever family members may be.

This new law takes effect immediately.

Click here to read the language of the Bill.

whcuradio.com, September 17, 2019

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The unintended consequences of Canada surrogacy law changes (Opinion)

There are unintended consequences to Proposed Canada surrogacy law changes.

Canada is considered an international surrogacy destination, with progressive laws that have attracted couples internationally. But, in just over nine months, a new Canadian fertility landscape will be born, bringing new regulations for reimbursing surrogates and donors. In fertility circles – both in Canada and beyond – there is fear that these new regulations by law will discourage people from becoming surrogates and donors.Canada surrogacy law

The new regulations from Health Canada, which come into effect June 9, 2020, set out exhaustive categories of reimbursable expenses – a big change from the current system, which does not specify what can be reimbursed and allows for wide interpretation of what constitutes a “reasonable expense.” That wide interpretation has allowed for flexibility in customizing fertility arrangements but may have a huge effect on Canada surrogacy law.

When the new rules take effect, eligible expenses will, for instance, include travel, insurance and legal fees, as well as counselling services and care for dependents and pets. The idea is to offer more certainty about which reimbursements are legitimate – and to allay any fears about being subjected to criminal sanctions.

Federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor has said that the regulations would provide couples struggling with infertility, single individuals, same-sex couples and others in the LGBTQ2 community more flexibility in building families. Couples will have the option to offer surrogates reimbursements for certain products and services beyond the actual pregnancy and into the postpartum period, which was not previously the case. This might make it easier for couples to obtain a surrogate, as they can provide reassurance that expenses related to potential health complications arising after the delivery will be reimbursed. But at the same time, the new regulations introduce more onerous requirements for reimbursement by requiring surrogates and donors to complete signed declarations in addition to providing receipts (surrogates are exempted from providing receipts under certain circumstances).

The biggest concern is that the regulations will likely make it even more difficult to access assisted reproduction, including medical procedures such as in-vitro fertilization, to conceive a child with the help of a surrogate and/or donor. The fear is that the new regulations will further discourage individuals from becoming surrogates and donors. Currently, surrogates and donors in Canada are driven by altruistic motivations, since it remains illegal to pay a surrogate for her services or pay for ova or sperm from a donor. However, if potential surrogates and donors risk not being reimbursed for reasonable out-of-pocket expenses, they may be dissuaded from helping others build families.

Alarmingly, the draft guidance document interpreting the regulations released by Health Canada states that “[t]here is no obligation to reimburse, meaning that only persons who wish to reimburse eligible expenditures will do so.” This could lead to exploitation of donors and surrogates. (The guidance document has not yet been finalized; consultation on it closed on July 26.)

www.theglobeandmail.com by Melissa Salfi, September 6, 2019

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New York Almost Joined The 21st Century On Gestational Surrogacy, No Thanks To Gloria Steinem

New York continues to be one of the few surprising gestational surrogacy holdouts, with an outdated law based on outdated notions and outdated technology.

The New York bill in support of regulated compensated gestational surrogacy — the Child-Parent Security Act (CPSA) — had the vocal support of Governor Andrew Cuomo, passed the State Senate, and likely had the votes in the House. But it never made it to the floor before the legislative session ended last week. What the heck happened?!new york surrogacy

Some Background.

New York is one of the few states in the country that legally prevents a woman from carrying a hopeful parent’s or couple’s embryo to birth, and receiving compensation for her nine months of intense effort and … labor. Other jurisdictions that had previously banned the practice have since changed course in the last few years — including New Jersey, Washington State, and D.C. In the meantime, New York continues to be one of the few surprising holdouts, with an outdated law based on outdated notions and outdated technology.

As previously discussed in my column, while gestational surrogacy is a big part of the New York bill, the CPSA includes other key protections for parents hoping to conceive using assisted reproductive technology. For example, it fixes the state’s legal loophole that allows sperm donors who donated to a single parent to seek legal rights to the resulting child! And vice-versa, it closes the loophole that currently allows single parents to seek child support from a donor. So these were improvements all around.

 

New York’s ban stems from the disastrous Baby M case in the 1980s. That case occurred in next door New Jersey, where a woman agreed to be inseminated and carry the resulting child for another couple. This type of arrangement is generally referred to as “traditional,” or “genetic surrogacy.” In the Baby M Case, the genetic surrogate changed her mind about giving up the baby, and fled the state with child. Both New Jersey and New York quickly over-corrected and outlawed all compensated surrogacy. Since then, genetic surrogacy has largely been abandoned across the U.S., while gestational surrogacy — where the surrogate is not genetically related to the child she carries — has flourished. Note that the CPSA only aims to legalize gestational surrogacy, not genetic surrogacy, the type found in the Baby M Case. Last year, New Jersey (ground zero for Baby M) recognized that the times and medical practices have changed, and reversed its position by passing supportive gestational surrogacy legislation.

So Close! 

The momentum for the bill was building, and supporters believed that the CPSA had a good shot at becoming law this year. So, what pulled the brakes? I spoke with Denise Seidelman, a prominent New York adoption and surrogacy attorney, and part of a coalition in support of the CPSA. Seidelman shared her experience advocating for the bill. “It was one the most profoundly inspiring, and also intensely disappointing experiences. Emotions were running high on both sides of the issue.”

Seidelman explained her view on some of the factors that led to this not being the CPSA’s year. For one, she noted that the author of the original New York surrogacy ban (from 30 years ago), Helene Weinstein, is still a current member of the Assembly, and she is outspoken in her position, perhaps colored by her experiences of a generation ago.

Seidelman felt another factor in this year’s failure was the timing of a letter by Gloria Steinem, famed author and feminist, against the CPSA. Steinem’s letter was disappointing, and really a bit shocking for those familiar with how surrogacy works. Her letter referred to a 1998 NY Task Force report that came out against surrogacy, with no mention of a more recent and more relevant 2017 NY Task Force report in support of gestational surrogacy, with measured regulation. Unfortunately, Steinem spoke not from firsthand knowledge of the recent experiences of women who choose to be gestational carriers for others, but from a perspective that has long since gone by the wayside.

The letter described how the bill would risk the well-being of the marginalized women in the state — those in conditions of poverty. However, as pointed out in the rebuttal letter written by RESOLVE, the national infertility association, of the women who raise their hands to be surrogates, only about 5 percent are determined to be medically qualified, and are able to move forward. And one of the requirements is that they are financially stable. Additionally, the 2017 Task Force report found that the women who are acting as surrogates are not the marginalized of society, but those not reliant on compensation that may be received from acting as a gestational surrogate. Steinem’s letter is an imagination of the Handmaid’s Tale, but ignores the current reality of what surrogacy is, and how it works.

AboveTheLaw.com, June 26, 2019 by Ellen Trachman

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