Trump Reverses LGBTQ Health Care Protections On Pulse Shooting Anniversary

The Trump administration has finalized a rule allowing health care providers to refuse care to transgender people, including gender reassignment surgery.

Reversing an Obama-era regulation, the change in rules at the Health & Human Services Department rolls back an interpretation of prohibiting sex discrimination under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act that included protections for trans people.

Under the Obama administration, discriminating against trans people basically boiled down to animus based on the ‘sex’ of a trans person. In the Trump administration, discriminating against trans people is fine.

The announcement on the HHS website adds the new rule will “relieve the American people of approximately $2.9 billion in undue and ineffective regulatory burdens over five years.”

Mary Beth Waddell, a senior legislative assistant for the virulently anti-LGBTQ Family Research Council, celebrated the finalized rule in a statement which read in part, “Under the old Obama rule, medical professionals could have been forced to facilitate gender reassignment surgeries and abortions — even if they believed this was a violation of their conscience or believed it harmful to the patient.”

Dr. Susan R. Bailey, president of the American Medical Association, issued her opposition in a statement:

“Respect for the diversity of patients is a fundamental value of the medical profession and is reflected in long-standing AMA policy opposing discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or a woman’s decisions about pregnancy, including termination.

“The federal government should never make it more difficult for individuals to access health care — during a pandemic or any other time.”

Sam Brinton, Vice President of Advocacy and Government Affairs for The Trevor Project issued this statement:

“Access to quality health care without discrimination is critical right now, and thankfully, whatever this new rule may say, LGBTQ people are still protected under the law. This rule sends a dangerous and confusing message to health care providers at the worst possible time. In the midst of a global pandemic with serious implications for the LGBTQ youth The Trevor Project serves, the last thing our nation needs is for the Administration to suggest, contrary to the plain language of the Affordable Care Act, that medical care providers don’t have to treat transgender and nonbinary people with the same care and respect as everybody else.”

The Human Rights Campaign’s Alphonso David denounced the news saying LGBTQ people “should not live in fear that they cannot get the care they need simply because of who they are.”

“It is clear that this administration does not believe that LGBTQ people, or other marginalized communities, deserve equality under the law,” said the HRC president. “But we have a reality check for them: We will not let this attack on our basic right to be free from discrimination in health care go unchallenged. We will see them in court, and continue to challenge all of our elected officials to rise up against this blatant attempt to erode critical protections people need and sanction discrimination.”

And Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, of the pro-LGBTQ law organization Lambda Legal, announced his group is planning a lawsuit against the Trump administration.

“We will be challenging the rule because at a time when the entire world is battling a dangerous pandemic, which in the United States has infected more than 2,000,000 people and killed more than 116,000, it is critical for everyone to have ready access to the potentially life-saving health care they need,” Gonzalez-Pagan said.

While the reversal of the former regulations had been in discussion for some time, Health & Human Services decided to release the announcement on 4 pm just before the weekend in the middle of Pride Month.

And the Trump administration’s assault on LGBTQ protections continues…

SCOTUS Will Rule If Existing Civil Rights Laws Ban LGBTQ Discrimination

The United States Supreme Court has announced it will weigh in on whether existing civil rights laws prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The current U.S. Supreme Court (image via SupremeCourt.gov)

The United States Supreme Court has announced it will weigh in on whether existing civil rights laws prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Currently, federal law bans discrimination in the workplace on the basis of religion, race, color, sex or national origin. While there is no specific federal law that protects LGBTQ individuals at work, advocates for the LGBTQ community say Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964prohibits being fired due to sexual orientation because that is a form of sex discrimination.

Lower courts have been split on the issue.

Of the cases that SCOTUS accepted for review Monday, two appeals courts ruled that the firings of a gay man and a transgender woman were illegal discrimination under Title VII, while a third case court ruled being fired for being gay does not fall under the purview of the civil rights law.

According to NBC News, here are the three cases:

• A New York skydiving instructor, Donald Zarda, said he was fired after telling a female client she didn’t need to worry about being tethered together by confiding he is gay. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals found, in that case, that sexual orientation discrimination is a subset of sex discrimination.

• A transgender woman in Michigan, Aimee Stephens, sued her former employer, a funeral home, after she was fired in the aftermath of sharing that she is transgender. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals said transgender discrimination is banned due to Title VII.

• A Georgia man, Gerald Bostock, was dismissed by his employer after discovering his participation in a gay softball league (yes, that really happened), the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the 1964 civil rights law does not include sexual orientation.

Judge Diane Wood, of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, wrote in a 2017 ruling that “it is actually impossible to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation without discriminating on the basis of sex.”

But over in the 11th Circuit, Judge William Pryor pointed to lawmakers in his ruling saying that Congress “has not made sexual orientation a protected class.”

The high court will hear the cases during its next term that begins in October.

JoLynn Markison, a partner at the international law firm Dorsey & Whitney in its labor and employment practice and an advocate for the LGBTQ community, has been following this issue closely.

“This shift in the Supreme Court’s willingness to rule on the issue of whether Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination extends to gender identity and sexual orientation—which are quintessential expressions of “sex”—has been a long time coming,” Markison says.

Markison points to the newest member of the high court, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, as a fairly substantial ‘unknown’ in the upcoming deliberations in that he doesn’t have a clear judicial record on LGBTQ issues.

However, we do know his nomination was heavily supported by far-right, conservative groups like the Family Research Council, which has long advocated against LGBTQ equality.

That said, there’s another wild card player to watch here.

“Is there a swing vote on the Supreme Court? Or is this issue already as good as decided? The balance could lie with Chief Justice John Roberts, who notably did not join the conservative dissenters in Pavan v. Smith, in which the Supreme Court held that married same-sex couples are entitled to be listed on their children’s birth certificates the same as married heterosexual couples,” said Markison.

GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, tweeted, “With more than 100 anti-LGBTQ attacks from the Trump Administration, this is exactly why we need to pass the #EqualityActnow and look toward explicitly protecting LGBTQ people with a constitutional amendment.”

Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO of GLAAD, followed that with her own tweet: “With Trump stacking the Supreme Court with anti-LGBTQ judges it’s clear that we need a constitutional amendment that protects LGBTQ people and all marginalized communities.”

In terms of state laws, it is currently legal to fire an LGBTQ person in more than 26 states across the nation. You can find information about your state at the Movement Advancement Project.

NY Governor Signs Laws Banning Trans Discrimination & ‘Ex-Gay Therapy’ For Minors

Thanks to new Democratic control of the New York state Senate, Gov. Andrew Cuomo was finally able to sign two important LGBT bills into law today.  With an American flag, a New York state flag, a rainbow flag and a transgender flag displayed prominently, the governor signed his name at a ceremony held at the New York City LGBT Community Center.
(image via Depositphotos)

Thanks to new Democratic control of the New York state Senate, Gov. Andrew Cuomo was finally able to sign two important LGBT bills into law today.

With an American flag, a New York state flag, a rainbow flag and a transgender flag displayed prominently, the governor signed his name at a ceremony held at the New York City LGBT Community Center.

One, the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, or GENDA, adds gender identity to the New York Human Rights Law to which bans discrimination in employment, housing, public spaces and education.

GENDA took a 16 year journey to receiving a New York state governor’s signature. While it was passed 11 times in the state Assembly, the Republican-controlled Senate kept the important legislation out of reach.

New York is now the 20th state in the country with statewide protections banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at signing ceremony at NYC LGBT Community Center

The second piece of legislation bans the use of so-called ‘conversion therapy’ on LGBTQ youth.

Major medical organizations like the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics have all denounced ‘conversion therapy’ which treats being gay as a mental illness.

Also known as ‘ex-gay therapy,’ the practice has been shown to lead to depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, anxiety and, in some cases, suicidal behavior.

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, issued a statement which read:

“Today, with Governor Cuomo’s signature, New York has made bold, historic progress by making GENDA the law of the land and banning the abusive and life-threatening practice of so-called ‘conversion therapy’ on LGBTQ youth.

“These laws will literally save lives, and their passage would not have been possible without the tireless work of advocates and allies across New York over the last decade. We also owe today’s celebration in large part to Senator Hoylman and Assemblymembers Gottfried and Glick for their strong leadership on this legislation, and to Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins, who made them a top priority this session.”

New York is now the 15th state to prohibit the harmful practice on LGBTQ youth.

Other states that have enacted similar laws are Connecticut, California, Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Washington, Maryland, Hawaii, New Hampshire, as well as the District of Columbia.

It’s a great day to celebrate in New York state.

Check out video from the event today in New York City below.

New York Legislature Passes Two Pro-LGBTQ Bills

After years and years of attempting to protect transgender New Yorkers, the New York state legislature has passed GENDA, the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act.

After years and years of attempting to protect transgender New Yorkers, the New York state legislature has passed GENDA, the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act.

The legislation explicitly bans discrimination in the state based on gender expression and gender identity. The bill won passage with a vote of 100-40 in the Assembly and 42-19 in the Senate.

Transgender and gender non-conforming people will now be protected in the areas of housing, employment and public accommodations.

“This is truly an historic day,” Eric Lesh, executive director of the LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York, told The Daily Beast. “We are finally welcoming a fairer and more equal New York because of the bold and tireless leadership of trans and gender non-conforming New Yorkers.”

According to the Human Rights Campaign, GENDA passed in the state Assembly 11 times over the years, but the GOP-controlled Senate would kill the bill. Only now that Democrats control the Senate has the legislation finally passed and will head to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk to be signed into law.

Additionally, a ban on so-called ‘conversion therapy’ passed in both chambers, making New York the 15th state to protect LGBTQ youth from the harmful practice.

The legislation passed in the state Assembly 134 to 3, and in the state Senate by a vote of 57-4.

“Today’s historic action in New York is the result of years of hard work and it is a vivid illustration of the importance of electing pro-equality lawmakers,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin in a statement.

“Due to the efforts of countless advocates and leaders, transgender New Yorkers will now be explicitly protected from discrimination on the basis of gender identity and LGBTQ youth will be protected from the dangerous, debunked practice of so-called ‘conversion therapy,'” he added. “This is a monumental day for fairness and equality across the Empire State.”

Major medical organizations like the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics have all denounced ‘conversion therapy’ which treats being gay as a mental illness.

So-called ‘ex-gay therapy’ has been shown to lead to depression, anxiety and, in some cases, suicide.

Ohio Gov. Kasich Bans Trans Discrimination With Executive Order

Ohio Gov. John Kasich

Ohio Gov. John Kasich Wednesday issued an Executive Order, 2018-12K, changing the anti-discrimination policy for state employees to include “gender identity or expression,” reports local NBC News affiliate, WCMH.

With just weeks left in Kasich’s term as governor, the order bans discrimination based on “gender identity and expression” in state personnel decisions.

The new language replaces the executive order put in place by Kasich when he took office in 2011, which included race, color, religion, gender, national origin, military status, disability, age and sexual orientation, but not gender identity.

LGBTQ advocacy group Freedom for All Americans says the executive order makes Kasich “the first Republican Governor of a state without statutory protections for LGBTQ people to issue an executive order protecting state employees on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.”

An outspoken critic of Donald Trump, Kasich has indicated he’s considering a 2020 challenge for the Republican presidential nomination in 2020, and this may be an attempt to show GOP voters a more moderate side of the Republican Party.

A statement from Equality Ohio applauded the move:

This leadership has never been more important. At a time when the basic rights of transgender people to exist in public, to serve in our military, and to access basic health care are at risk, we applaud Governor Kasich for his recognition of our shared humanity with common-sense protections.

Although Kasich’s successor, Governor-elect Mike DeWine (R), could rescind the order when he takes office next month, Freedom for All Americans reports he has “expressed an openness to preserving Kasich’s executive orders.”

Massachusetts: Anti-Trans Campaign Drops New Fear-Mongering Ad

A law passed in 2016 protects transgender citizens in the state from discrimination in regard to public accommodations, including the use of bathrooms that align with transgender folks’ gender identity.   But conservative, anti-trans groups have managed to put the law up for a vote by the general public after only two years.

While most of the country’s political attention currently revolves around who will control Congress after the November mid-term elections, LGBTs should be aware that an item on the Massachusetts ballot could have widespread effects on the community.

A law passed in 2016 protects transgender citizens in the state from discrimination in regard to public accommodations, including the use of bathrooms that align with transgender folks’ gender identity.

But conservative, anti-trans groups have managed to put the law up for a vote by the general public after only two years.

Question 3 will ask voters in the Bay state if the law should remain (a ‘yes’ vote) or be repealed (a ‘no’ vote).

The “No on 3” campaign has released a new ad spot that stokes fears about “men in women’s bathrooms” predicting male predators will hide out and lie in wait to attack women and children.

In the spot, a woman enters a locker room as a sinister-looking male predator hides inside a bathroom stall.

“What does the Question 3 mean to you?” asks female voice in the ad. “It means any man who says he is a woman can enter a woman’s locker room, dressing room or bathroom at any time, even convicted sex offenders, and if you see something suspicious and say something to authorities, you could be arrested and fined up $15,000.”

During the voiceover, the woman begins to undress but looks up to see the man emerge from the stall.
The voiceover ends: “Vote No on 3. This bathroom bill puts our privacy and safety at risk. It goes too far.”

Here’s the spot.

It’s worth repeating that there have been zero reports of straight men posing as ‘trans women’ in order to get their rocks off preying on women in bathrooms.

While this may seem like an issue in just one state, Massachusetts has a long history in leading the fight for LGBTQ rights.

Massachusetts was the first state to legalize marriage equality, and the second (after Wisconsin) to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing, and public accommodations.

And while many may think Massachusetts is a ‘safe liberal haven’ for civil rights, don’t forget that in ‘liberal’ California, the dreadful Prop. 8 took away same-sex marriage after LGBT folks already had won the right to marry those they love.

That’s a setback we, as a community, can’t allow to happen again.

If Question 3 in Massachusetts were to pass, it would embolden opponents of the community to attack LGBTQ protections anywhere.

Fortunately, there are people fighting for our side and getting the truth out to the public.

Here’s the recent ad from the ‘Yes on 3’ team below. And for more information about how you can help, head over to freedommassachusetts.org.

(h/t Washington Blade)

New Hampshire Approves Gender Identity Law, Bans “Ex-Gay Therapy”

New Hampshire’s LGBT advocates celebrated GOP Gov. Chris Sununu for signing into law a new bill which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity.

The transgender rights bill passed the New Hampshire House by 195-129 votes, and in the Senate with all Democrats in favor and enough Republicans in support to pass it, 14-10.

“Discrimination – in any form – is unacceptable and runs contrary to New Hampshire’s Live Free or Die Spirit,” Sununu said in a statement after signing House Bill 1319.

But wait – Sununu wasn’t done.

He also signed on Friday legislation banning so-called conversion therapy for gay minors.

Connecticut, California, Nevada, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New York, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Washington, Maryland, Hawaii and now New Hampshire all have laws or regulations protecting youth from this abusive practice.

A growing number of municipalities have also enacted similar protections, including cities and counties in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington, Florida, New York, Arizona, and Wisconsin.

There is no credible evidence that conversion therapy can change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. To the contrary, research has clearly shown that these practices pose devastating health risks for LGBTQ young people such as depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, homelessness, and even suicidal behavior. The harmful practice is condemned by every major medical and mental health organization, including the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association and American Medical Association.

Good on you, New Hampshire!

NY State Republicans Kill Gender Identity Protections Bill For 11th Year In A Row

Incredible as it may seem, the New York state Assembly has approved legislation prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity for 11 years in a row.

And for the 11th year, the NY state Senate (controlled by Republicans) has killed that bill in committee. The legislation failed on a party line 5-4 vote.

From Chris Johnson of The Washington Blade:

Any hopes that New York would join other states this year and enact a law explicitly prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity were dashed Tuesday when a Republican-controlled Senate committee voted down a transgender rights measure.

The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, or GENDA, was defeated in the New York Senate Investigations & Government Operations Committee by a 5-4 party-line vote.

The measure would have amended the state human rights law to bar discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression and would have added transgender people to the state human rights law.

Sen. Brad Hoylman, the only openly LGBT member of the New York state Senate, was disgusted. His office issued this statement:

“In 21st century New York State, it’s appalling that Senate Republicans would vote along party lines against GENDA. Human rights shouldn’t be a partisan issue – and they aren’t in other states.

“Earlier this month, in fact, the Republican legislature in New Hampshire passed protections for LGBT people, making it possible that New York will soon be the only state in the northeast without statutory protections for its transgender citizens.

“As the Trump Administration continues to roll back protections for LGBT Americans, New York has the obligation to protect its transgender citizens from discrimination and hate crimes.

“Unfortunately, the State Senate failed miserably in its duties. Moving forward, I’ll continue to fight for passage of GENDA in a new State Senate after the midterms.”

New Hampshire State Senate Approves Transgender Non-Discrimination Protections

The New Hampshire state Senate, by a 14-10 vote margin, has approved a bill that will add gender identity to the state’s nondiscrimination law.

New Hampshire is the only state in the New England area without transgender protections in its non-discrimination law.

Notable – both chambers of the state legislature are controlled by Republicans.

Openly gay state Rep. Ed Butler (D) introduced the measure in the House as HB 1319, which was approved in March by a vote of 195-129, with 51 Republican votes.

Gov. Chris Sununu (R) has indicated he will sign the bill into law.

Podcast: Drag Queen Ada Vox Makes American Idol’s Top 10; Massachusetts To Get LGBT Curriculum; New Study Says Gay Couples Are Least Likely To Part Ways

In this week’s podcast:

• Ada Vox becomes American Idol‘s first drag queen contestant in the Top 10

• A new study shows surprising results – gay male couples are least likely to part ways

• High school students in Massachusetts will soon have courses that will include LGBTQ history and literature by gay authors

• The Trump administration launches a new attack on transgender people

• Prince Harry and Suits‘ Meghan Merkle reaffirmed their commitment to LGBTQ rights

All that and more in this episode of The Randy Report podcast