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 The report urges that DOMA either be repealed through passage of the Respect for Marriage Act or be overturned by judicial decision.
Seizure of Condoms as Evidence
The Committee on AIDS expressed support for A.2736/S.1379, which would prohibit police and prosecutors from introducing condoms as evidence of prostitution-related offenses in criminal proceedings. Mounting evidence suggests that the practice of police seizure of condoms as evidence of prostitution-related offenses, and introduction of condoms as evidence of prostitution-related offenses in criminal proceedings, undermine New York’s efforts to fight HIV and AIDS by deterring people, particularly members of groups at high risk for sexually transmitted disease, from using these condoms. Amending the existing law as proposed by this legislation, the report notes, is essential to the promotion of public health and human rights.
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.