Thursday, September 5, 2013

Policy Matters: September 5, 2013

In the News
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Is First Supreme to Officiate Same-Sex Marriage Ceremony
On Aug. 31, when Kennedy Center President Michael M. Kaiser exchanged vows with his betrothed, the couple made history by being the first same-sex couple to have their wedding officiated by a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who simultaneously made history by being the first Supreme Court Justice to officiate a same-sex marriage ceremony. Click here to read The Washington Post's coverage.
American University Announces Student Health Insurance Coverage Will Include Transition Surgery
American University made history by becoming the first university in the District of Columbia area to announced that its student health insurance coverage will include surgical procedures for transsexual students. Announced on August 29th, the efforts to realize this gain are largely credited to the work of then-Student Government President Sarah McBride, who disclosed as transgender, revealing years of struggle with her gender identity.  McBride’s efforts on campus began in March 2013 after she identified as transgender to the university community in a feature titled "The Real Me, which appeared in AU’s student newspaper, The Eagle, on May 1, 2012.  She described the acceptance from the AU community as “overwhelming in a good way.”  Click here to read about AU's new health insurance policy and Sarah..
PFLAG National, The Trevor Project, 19 Other Organizations Launch “Talk to Me” to Prevent Youth suicide
As part of National Suicide Prevention Month, PFLAG National has joined 19 other national organizations to participate in "Talk to Me," a national campaign from The Trevor Project. Rooted in research which indicates that improving both help-seeking behaviors and access to care can have a dramatic effect on suicide prevention, “Talk to Me” has united organizational leaders in mental health, education, suicide prevention, youth, and LGBT communities to encourage constituents to be people that anyone can talk to when they need support, and to take action by asking that members of Congress fund inclusive suicide prevention training and programs by re-authorizing the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act (H.R. 2734). Other parts of the program include free trainings to become a Trevor Lifeguard by registering for a free Trevor workshop to learn best practices for suicide prevention for grades 6–12; and sharing "Talk to Me" badges, banners, and updates on social media to show support for suicide prevention.
University of Arizona Announces Historic Four Tenure-Track Faculty Openings over Two Years in Transgender Studies, Seeks Two Candidates for Fall 2014 and Two for Fall 2015
The University of Arizona announced a first-time cluster hire of four tenure-track faculty positions in transgender studies over the next two years. Two positions are being offered this year in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS), with a start date of fall 2014. Two positions to be based elsewhere in the university will be advertised next year, with a start date of fall 2015. This cluster hire is one element of the University of Arizona’s unprecedented investment in the field of transgender studies. Other elements include support for a new peer-reviewed journal, TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, which will be published by Duke University Press starting in 2014, with the editorial office housed at the University of Arizona’s Institute for LGBT Studies; a new interdisciplinary Center for Critical Studies of the Body; and an anticipated graduate degree program in transgender studies. Click here to read more about this search for interdisciplinary scholars and how to apply. .


On Policy and Legislation [Note: Congress is in recess so federal bills can have no action.]
San Antonio,TX City Council Approves LGBT Non-discrimination Ordinance
As reported in the San Antonio Express News, the City Council voted 8-3 on September 5th to approve adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of classes protected from discrimination. "This ordinance,” said San Antonio Mayor Juli├ín Castro, “fundamentally is about ensuring whether you're white or black...Christian or Jew, straight or gay, this city belongs to you."  Castro added, "This ordinance is about saying there are no second-class citizens in San Antonio."
HHS Announces First Guidance to Implement SCOTUS’s DOMA Ruling: All Beneficiaries in Private Medicare Plans Have Access to Equal Coverage For Nursing Home Care Where Spouse Lives
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced on Aug. 29 that all beneficiaries, including same ­sex married couples, who have private Medicare coverage plans have access to the same coverage as all couples regarding care in skilled nursing facilities (SNF) or nursing homes where their spouse lives. This marked HHS’s first guidance issued to implement the Supreme Court of the United States’ (SCOTUS) ruling that struck down Section 3 of The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Click here to read more about this announcement.
Same-Sex Married Servicemembers’ Spouse Now Receiving Benefits and Military Spouse ID Card
As previously reported in Policy Matters, the U.S. Department of Defense announced in August that it would provide spousal and family benefits for all legally married military spouses, naming the policy’s effective date as Tuesday, September 13, 2013. On that day, same-sex married military couples across the country will begin receiving military identification (ID) cards, family healthcare coverage, housing allowances and survivor benefits.  Same-sex married couples can claim the family entitlements retroactively, dating to June 26, 2013, when the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) struck down Section 3 of The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as unconstitutional.  Servicemembers and their families who are based in a state that fails to recognize or bans same-sex marriage are able to apply for and receive these benefits, including the military spouse ID card, at designated federal facilities in those states. Click here to read about a family directly affected by this news. There have been published reports about some same-sex married National Guard couples in Texas being denied benefits including spouse ID cards, however the couples who were denied visited their nearest military facility rather than the 20 federal installations in Texas that were named in the related Texas Military Forces (TXMF) guidance about implementing the Department of Defense policy.
Obama Administration Decides Not to Enforce Title 38, Code of Law that Blocked Same-Sex Married Veterans’ Families from Receiving Spousal and Dependent Benefits
The Obama administration, upon recommendation from Attorney General Eric Holder, announced that it will no longer enforce Sections 101(3) and 101(31) of Title 38, a portion of U.S. code governing veterans benefits in a way that denies same-sex married veterans benefits for their same-sex spouses and dependents. A letter from AG Holder to U.S. House Speaker John Boehner said that the reasons for the suggestion and decision included SCOTUS striking down Section 3 of DOMA which prohibited federal recognition of same-sex marriage and a recent federal district court decision against Title 38 as part of the rationale to cease enforcement of portions of Title 38. Click here to read AG Holder's letter.
NJ Gov. Chris Christie Signs SOCE Ban Bill, Nation’s Second after California’s
On August 19th New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed into law a bill that bans sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) for youth in the state.  The law is the nation’s second, following California Gov. Jerry Brown signing a similar bill earlier this summer, and currently faces a court challenge.
New Mexico Supreme Court Rules Photographer at Fault for Denying Same-Sex Couple Service
On Aug 21, The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the state’s Human RIghts Law was violated by a commercial wedding photography business who refused a same-sex couple wedding photo services.  The case was Elane Photography v. Vanessa Willock, filed after Elaine Huguenin, co-owner of Elane Photography in Albuquerque, turned away Vanessa Willock and her partner in 2006 on the grounds that photographing the ceremony would violate her religious beliefs. An investigation by the state Human Rights Commission that found the company was guilty of discrimination based on sexual orientation was upheld by the New Mexico Court of Appeals in June of 2012. Read the full NM Supreme Court ruling here.

Dear Policy Matters:
I know it’s only September, but I plan to attend PFLAG National’s Convention in Washington in October and, after that, holiday travel is just around the corner.  While I know that air travel and security measures can be distressing to everyone, can you tell me whether there are any protections for transgender people who travel by air, and if there are any security guidelines that relate to trans or gender non-conforming people in particular?
Sincerely,
Hoping to Fly Fearlessly

Dear HFF:
Most recently updated in November 2012, there are more culturally competent TSA travel guidelines that take into account special consideration for transgender travelers.  They differ tremendously from those enacted in 2001 and 2003, which included a Department of Homeland Security Advisory to Security Personnel that read: "Male bombers may dress as females in order to discourage scrutiny."

Today there is more informed and appropriate set of guidelines specifically inclusive of transgender travelers. Click here to read this helpful TSA reference before you plan a trip by plane. You’ll see that there is also guidance on how to ask any questions before you travel and how to report any infraction or mistreatment.

You’ll also find tips on preparing to travel, making reservations, packing carry-on bags including help regarding medical equipment or prosthetics, screening process options such as imaging or pat-downs, travel document checks, and the behavioral detection program.

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