The Committees on Sex and Law and Criminal Courts issued a joint report suggesting recommendations to enhance Criminal Procedure Law § 440.10(1)(i), regarding the vacatur of prostitution and trafficking-related convictions for victims of sex trafficking. The report provides an overview of the current law as well as data regarding its implementation and court-related outcomes. The report also outlines a number of recommendations for the effectuation of further relief under the law including that: 1) courts continue to streamline the procedures for these motions, and maintain stricter deadlines for responses and decisions; 2) broad outreach be continued, including the publicizing of the remedy through New York State licensing agencies; and 3) the Legislature amend C.P.L. § 440.10(1)(i) to include a provision allowing for the assignment of counsel for the purpose of preparing such motions for indigent petitioners.
The Committee on Sex and Law expressed support for A.3498/S.2275, which would require that local social services districts notify the Office of Children and Family Services 90 days before the effective date of a planned across-the-board reduction in eligibility or increase in co-payments for childcare assistance. Currently, New York State law requires that notice for a reduction or discontinuance of social services benefits be mailed to the individual family 10 days before the effective date. This limited timeframe, the report argues, does not provide many families sufficient time to plan for such a dramatic financial loss. The bill provides a simple and cost-effective way to ensure that parents and providers are made aware of critical financial decisions made by the counties that will impact their household budgets, so that they have time to develop a plan to respond to a loss of financial assistance.
Inclusion of Same-Sex Spouses in Family Reunification Immigration Laws
In a joint letter to Congress, the Committees on Civil Rights, Immigration and Nationality Law, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights, and Sex and Law expressed support for Senator Leahy’s amendments to the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act , S. 744, which would include same-sex spouses and permanent partners in family reunification immigration laws. These amendments, the report notes, update immigration law to reflect advances around the world in recognizing same-sex partnerships and protect the rights of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents with same-sex spouses or permanent partners to bring their partners to the U.S. as heterosexual couples do.
The Committees on Sex and Law, Civil Rights, and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights joined together to issue a report on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which reiterated the City Bar position that DOMA violates the Due Process and Equal Protection provisions of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution because it denies fundamental rights to certain individuals based on sexual orientation. The report urges that DOMA either be repealed through passage of the Respect for Marriage Act or be overturned by judicial decision.
Changing Gender Designation on a Birth Certificate
The Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights issued a report on the need to modernize New York State policy regarding the proof required to change gender designation on a New York State birth certificate. Current Department of Health policy provides that transgender individuals may only alter the gender designation on their New York State birth certificate if they can provide four separate and distinct substantiating documents from both medical and psychological professionals to show that they have “completed” specific surgical procedures. This requirement, the report notes, runs counter to contemporary professional standards of care, which acknowledge gender transition as a highly individualized and personal process, and surgical intervention as an inappropriate benchmark for legal or social recognition of one’s gender identity. A modernized policy for transgender people seeking to amend their birth certificate’s gender designation, the report argues, should require only one document from a treating or evaluating healthcare provider that demonstrates clinically appropriate treatment has been provided based on the person’s individualized and particular medical needs.
Health Services for Transgender New Yorkers
The Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights issued a report urging repeal of New York State’s regulatory exclusion of state Medicaid insurance coverage for any care, services, drugs, or supplies for the purpose of gender reassignment. Transgender people are the only group of New Yorkers who are currently denied Medicaid coverage for services based on their identity. Providing full coverage for transgender health services will put transgender patients in the same position as all other patients in that only medically necessary services will be covered. The report recommends that New York should follow the increasing number of states, municipalities, and private employers and provide coverage for all mental health, medical, and surgical treatments necessary to provide adequate health care to transgender people.