NCLR Applauds to Supreme Court Decision Upholding the Affordable Care Act

June 28, 2012

(San Francisco, CA, June 28, 2012)—Today, in a 5-4 decision, the United States Supreme Court upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), and ruled that the individual mandate, which requires most individuals to buy health insurance, is constitutional. The Court upheld the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid eligibility, but also ruled that states that do not comply with the expanded Medicaid provisions cannot be denied existing Medicaid funds.

Today’s decision will have an enormous impact on access to high quality care for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and their families. The ACA represents the largest reform to the healthcare system in over 40 years, and the most significant effort ever undertaken to address health disparities for LGBT patients seeking care. The law makes a number of changes designed to increase access to care. These changes, such as covering preventative care and setting a new national threshold for Medicaid eligibility, make it substantially easier for low-income people and people with pre-existing conditions to access care, issues that are crucially important for the LGBT community.

The law includes numerous provisions designed to prevent discrimination in healthcare settings. The state exchanges set up by the ACA—which create a marketplace for people to purchase health insurance—prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in those exchanges. In addition, the law extends federal nondiscrimination protections to the healthcare system, including protecting people from discrimination based on disability status (including HIV/AIDS status) and discrimination based on sex, which has often been interpreted to include gender identity and gender nonconformity.

In addition to nondiscrimination protections, the ACA also creates services and programs that prioritize issues that are crucial to LGBT people. For example, the ACA grants the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) the authority to collect data about demographic information for the purposes of targeting health disparities in certain communities. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has already announced that HHS will exercise its authority under this provision to collect data on sexual orientation and gender identity in addition to the already required categories of race, ethnicity, primary language, sex, and disability status. As Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has stated, “the Affordable Care Act may represent the strongest foundation we have ever created to begin closing LGBT health disparities.”

Importantly, the Supreme Court’s narrow reading of the Medicaid expansion may have an adverse impact on the ability of low-income people to access care, which will disproportionately affect the LGBT community. The ACA’s Medicaid expansion drastically increases the number of low-income individuals eligible to access Medicaid. Without HHS having the ability to compel states to comply with these new provisions, low-income people in states that refuse to participate will face continued barriers to obtaining needed care.

Statement by NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell, Esq.:

“Today is a banner day for all Americans who care about fixing our broken healthcare system. By upholding the centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act, the Supreme Court has ensured that millions of uninsured people will finally gain access to affordable care and enable the federal government to begin addressing the shameful disparities that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people face in gaining access to healthcare. At the same time, the Court’s ruling puts the healthcare of low-income people at risk. Much work remains to be done to ensure that all Americans have access to quality care.”

Media Contact: NCLR Communications Director Erik Olvera | Office: 415.392.6257 x324 |EOlvera@NCLRights.org


Creating a Safe Harbor for African-American LGBT Elders

June 26, 2012

LGBT elders come from every community. For African-American LGBT elders, racism, homophobia, and transphobia conspire to make welcoming places hard to find.

A new Aging Today article, co-authored by DC-based scholar Dr. Imani Woody and NCLR Elder Law Project Fellow Daniel Redman, discusses the history of the community, the challenges African-American LGBT elders face now, and ways that all service providers can create truly inclusive spaces.

For more on finding inclusive care and other issues affecting LGBT elders, check out our publication Navigating the System: A Guide for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Elders in California.


Supreme Court Strikes Down Key Provisions of Arizona Immigration Law

June 25, 2012

(San Francisco, CA, June 25, 2012)—Today, in a 5-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down three key provisions of the draconian Arizona immigration law, S.B. 1070, and upheld another provision for further judicial interpretation without reaching a final determination of its validity. Justice Elena Kagan abstained.

The Court struck down three sections of the law, including a provision that made it a crime for all documented immigrants to fail to carry registration documents at all times, a provision that made it a crime for immigrants to seek employment without a work permit, and a provision that authorized law enforcement to arrest any immigrant they believed had committed a “deportable offense.” The Court held that these portions of the law overreached into an area that has been reserved for federal law-making.

The Court upheld a fourth section of the law, the “papers please” provision, which requires law enforcement to check the immigration status of any immigrant whom they have stopped, detained, or arrested. Importantly, the Court left the door open to future litigation to determine whether enforcement of this provision conflicts with federal law.

The decision comes in the midst of a reignited debate over the need for federal comprehensive immigration reform following the June 15, 2012 announcement from President Barack Obama that his administration will no longer seek to deport DREAM Act-eligible young people.

Statement by NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell, Esq.:

“Today’s decision is a victory for all those who value humanity and fairness. The Arizona law was a gratuitously punitive and discriminatory law. It allowed individuals to be blatantly profiled based solely on their race, without any evidence of criminal activity. None of us were made safer by this law, but we were all rendered less decent by its existence. The portions that were struck down did little besides empower law enforcement to target and harass. We are disappointed that any portion of the law remains. The provision that has been upheld practically invites law enforcement to rely on irrelevant factors such as race or perceived immigration status to selectively question someone’s legal right to be here. We are confident that further litigation efforts will ultimately strike down this unjust provision for good.

Today’s decision highlights the need for Congress to move swiftly to fix our broken immigration system. We need comprehensive and humane immigration reform that will keep families together instead of tearing them apart, allow hard-working people to seek employment and make a life for themselves and their loved ones, and ensure a path to equal access and opportunity for all those who work for it.”

Media Contact:
NCLR Communications Director Erik Olvera | Office: 415.392.6257x324 |EOlvera@NCLRights.org


Groundbreaking Nike LGBT Sports Summit Takes on Bullying, Homophobia and Transphobia in Sports

June 18, 2012

(Beaverton, OR, June 18, 2012)—Many of the nation’s top lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer sports leaders joined Nike representatives at Nike World Headquarters for the first-ever Nike LGBT Sports Summit to combat bullying and anti-LGBTQ bias and discrimination in sports.

Advocates and organizations pooled their expertise and strengths over the last four days—June 14 to June 17—to develop a unified plan to end harassment and discrimination against LGBTQ athletes and coaches in kindergarten through high school, college, recreational sports, and professional sports.

In the next year, this newly formed LGBTQ sports coalition will work to achieve the following goals:

Each of the major American professional sports leagues will be engaged to work with our member organizations toward inclusion in their league.

  • The visibility of out collegiate athletes, coaches, and allies will be increased through a multi-pronged approach.
  • The national youth and adult recreational leagues will receive a LGBTQ inclusive model policy, and at least five leagues will have adopted such a policy.
  • Two million young people will have heard a new, inclusive definition of “athletic champion,” and their physical education teachers and coaches will have received inclusive training resources.

Outsports co-founder Cyd Zeigler began developing the summit last year after identifying a failure by LGBTQ sports advocates to work together toward a common goal. Zeigler then joined forces with National Center for Lesbian Rights Sports Project Director Helen Carroll and Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network’s Changing the Game Sports Director Pat Griffin. Zeigler approached Nike about hosting the event, and they jumped at the chance.

“As athletes and coaches, we all understand the power of working as a team,” said Zeigler. “This summit has given us the unique opportunity to identify our common goals and move forward as a united movement. Working together, we will dismantle bullying and anti-LGBTQ bias and discrimination in sports in the next four years.”

Said Carroll: “I am excited to see transgender people, people of color, men, women and allies in sports working together to create a unified movement that captures the power of our different experiences and voices. The strength from this collaboration and these specific plans will make the sports world safer and more inclusive for all.”

Organizations involved in the summit included: American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance; Athlete Ally; Br{ache the Silence; Campus Pride; ESPN; Fearless campaign; Federation of Gay Games; Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD); Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN); I Am Enough; It Gets Better project; National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR); National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA); Nike; Our Group; Outsports; StandUp Foundation; and You Can Play project.

“This summit happened at the right time,” said Griffin. “We are riding the crest of a wave of attitude change about LGBTQ people in sports. We hope that the action plans that were identified at the summit will speed up this change.”

Plans for future summits include an open invitation to other organizations and individuals to join these and future action plans to eliminate bullying and LGBTQ bias and discrimination in sports.

The event concluded with summit participants joining the Nike contingency in the Portland Pride Parade.

Media Contact:
NCLR Communications Director Erik Olvera | Office: 415.392.6257 x324 |EOlvera@NCLRights.org


A Dream Come True: Young LGBT Immigrants Need Not Fear Deportation For Being Brought to This Country as Children

June 15, 2012

By Arcelia Hurtado, Esq.
NCLR Deputy Director

Today, in a courageous and much needed policy shift, the Obama administration announced that it will stop all deportations of undocumented young people who were brought  to the United States  as children and have remained in the country for at least five continuous years, are under the age of 30, have either obtained a high school diploma or GED, or have served in our country’s military, and have no prior criminal history.

This is the right thing to do, and will bring an end to the unfair, irrational, and devastating practice of deporting young people who have lived most of their lives in this country and who simply wish to remain with their families and to devote their talents and skills to our national welfare.

In the words of President Obama, “It makes no sense to expel talented young people who for all intents and purposes are Americans, they’ve been raised as Americans, understand themselves to be part of this country, to expel these young people who want to staff our labs or start new businesses or defend our country simply because of the actions of their parents or because of inaction by politicians.”

The President will issue an executive order directing the Department of Homeland Security to stop deporting young people who were brought to this country as children, but who have been unable to obtain documentation.  The policy recognizes that these young people “do not present a risk to national security or public safety,” and in fact that deporting them would “remove productive young people to countries where they may not have lived or even speak the language.” This policy achieves many of the goals of the DREAM Act, proposed federal legislation that would permit young adults who were brought to this country as children to apply for citizenship. While that legislation has been stalled, the administration has endorsed it and called for its inclusion as a part of a broader immigration policy reform. Today’s policy shift does not provide a path to citizenship, which the President does not have the legal authority to do.  But it will make it possible for undocumented young people who were brought here many years ago by parents seeking a better life and future for them to stop fearing deportation and legally secure employment in the U.S.

This new policy will provide crucial relief for young people, including countless LGBT youth, who simply want the opportunity to work hard and make a life in the country they have called home since their youth. Moreover, it is one more example of how the administration is committed to increasing opportunities for success for all people and extending the promise of America to all those who are willing to work for it.

Read more.

Media Contact:
NCLR Communications Director Erik Olvera | Office: 415.392.6257 x324 |EOlvera@NCLRights.org


NCLR Applauds Obama Administration for Halting Unfair Deportation of Young Immigrants Brought to This Country as Children

June 15, 2012

(San Francisco, CA, June 15, 2012)—Today, President Obama’s administration announced that it will stop deporting young immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and who have been unable to obtain documentation, despite living  in this country for most of their lives.

Under the new policy, President Obama will exercise his legal authority to issue an executive order to stop deportations of these young people and to issue them work permits. The new policy will benefit more than 800,000 undocumented young people who currently live in fear of deportation and are prevented from legally obtaining jobs in the U.S. The executive order will apply to undocumented young people who came to the U.S. before they turned 16 years old, are currently younger than 30, have either earned  a high school diploma or a GED, or have served in our country’s military, have remained in the country for at least five continuous years, and have no criminal history.

President Obama has previously expressed his support for the DREAM Act, proposed federal legislation that would allow young people who were brought to this country as children to apply for citizenship. Despite the President’s support, the DREAM Act has stalled in Congress. The policy announced today will allow the Obama administration to accomplish some of the DREAM Act’s goals. While this policy does not provide a path to citizenship, which the President does not have the legal authority to create, it provides these young people with the security of being free from the fear of deportation and permits them to legally seek employment. This is an important and practical first step in the longer path towards much-needed and comprehensive immigration reform.

In an announcement earlier today, the President said this policy “lives up to our heritage as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.”

Statement by NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell, Esq.:

“This is a monumental development that will change the lives of hundreds of thousands of young people who have already contributed so much to this country and who will now be free from the specter of being brutally removed from their families and homes. Young people who came to this country as children and want to work hard, go to school, defend this country’s constitutional ideals by serving in our military, and contribute to society should be given the opportunity to do so.

This policy shift once again shows that this administration is committed to improving lives and creating opportunity for all people. We applaud the President for extending relief to young people so that they  no longer have to fear being torn away from their homes and families, and we join the administration in continuing to support the DREAM Act as part of a humane and comprehensive immigration reform.”

Media Contact:
NCLR Communications Director Erik Olvera | Office: 415.392.6257 x324 |EOlvera@NCLRights.org


CWLA and Experts Join in Issuing Recommended Practices for LGBTQ Youth in Foster Care

June 7, 2012

(New York June 7, 2012) — The Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) and a coalition of child welfare advocates and experts have joined to issue “Recommended Practices to Promote the Safety and Well-Being of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) Youth and Youth at Risk of or Living with HIV in Child Welfare Settings.” The Recommended Practices offer guidance to state and local child welfare agencies to ensure safe, appropriate care in the best interests of LGBTQ children in the child welfare system.

“We know that child welfare agencies across the country welcome resources to improve the well-being of abused and neglected children,” said ACYF Commissioner Bryan Samuels. “We are pleased to have a coalition of child welfare experts provide practical examples of practices that every child welfare agency can use to better meet the needs of the LGBTQ youth in their care. I would have found this resource incredibly helpful when I was a child welfare agency director.”

LGBTQ young people in out-of-home care continue to be overrepresented and face a crisis of rejection, neglect and discrimination. The recommended practices build on previous research and standards developed during the last decade by child welfare, social work and civil rights experts. State child welfare agencies can use them to increase their knowledge of LGBTQ issues, influence their programmatic decisions and priorities, and set higher expectations and performance standards for the services provided to LGBTQ young people in care.

The “Recommended Practices” provides examples in a range of areas, including: policies prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and HIV status; services that address family rejection; safe placement with foster or adoptive parents; access to appropriate medical and mental health care services for LGBTQ youth and youth at risk of or living with HIV; and recommendations to support transgender and gender-nonconforming youth. The recommended practices also encourage child welfare systems to collect data to quantify outcomes for LGBTQ youth in care.

To read the Recommended Practices visit: http://www.lambdalegal.org/publications/recommended-practices-youth

CWLA is joined by American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law: Opening Doors for LGBTQ Youth in Foster Care Project; Diane E. Elze, PhD, MSW; Family Acceptance Project; Lambda Legal; Legal Services for Children; Gerald P. Mallon, DSW; Robin McHaelen, MSW; National Alliance to End Homelessness; National Center for Lesbian Rights; National Center for Transgender Equality; National Network for Youth; and Sylvia Rivera Law Project as co-authors on the publication.

Media Contact: NCLR Communications Associate Bethany Woolman | Office: 415.392.6257 x305 |BWoolman@NCLRights.org


NCLR Applauds Denial of En Banc Review of Ninth Circuit Decision Striking Down Proposition 8

June 5, 2012

Today, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied review by a larger panel of judges of that Court’s February 7, 2012 decision striking down Proposition 8 as unconstitutional.  Proposition 8 is the 2008 measure that stripped same-sex couples of the right to marry in California. The Ninth Circuit’s February decision held that Proposition 8 violates the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution because it “serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples.”

Today’s denial means that Prop 8 supporters have 90 days to ask the United States Supreme Court to review the case.

Statement by NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell, Esq.:

“Today’s refusal by the Ninth Circuit to grant further review is a testament to the meticulous and well-reasoned opinion originally issued by the Court. While the supporters of Proposition 8 will now seek review by the U.S. Supreme Court, there is no doubt that they are on the wrong side of history. Excluding same-sex couples from the right to marry runs counter to our highest ideals of equality and fairness.”

Media Contact: NCLR Communications Associate Bethany Woolman | Office: 415.392.6257 x305 |BWoolman@NCLRights.org


New Mexico Supreme Court Establishes Important Parenting Protections for Non-Biological Mothers

June 1, 2012

(San Francisco, CA, June 1, 2012)—Today, the New Mexico Supreme Court issued a decision recognizing important new protections for non-biological mothers who are raising children with a same-sex partner. The Court held that a woman who raises a child with another woman and assumes parental and financial responsibility for the child can be a legal parent under New Mexico law, just as a male parent would be, regardless of whether she is a biological parent.

National Center for Lesbian Rights client Bani Chatterjee and her partner, Taya King, were in a committed, long-term relationship and decided to raise a child together through international adoption. Because they could not adopt jointly due to discrimination against same-sex couples, only Taya legally adopted their child from abroad. Although Bani did not adopt their daughter, Taya and Bani co-parented  their daughter, and Bani supported the family financially. Bani and Taya eventually ended their relationship after they had lived together as a family for nine years. Taya moved to Colorado with their daughter and tried to prevent Bani from having any contact with their child.

Bani filed a petition in the New Mexico district court to establish parentage and seek custody. She argued that she was presumed to be a legal parent to the child under the New Mexico Uniform Parentage Act because she openly held out the child as her own and established a personal, financial or custodial relationship with the child. The district court dismissed Bani’s case. The New Mexico Court of Appeals ruled that New Mexico law only allows fathers, not mothers, to establish parentage based on these facts, but that Bani may be able to seek visitation as a non-legal parent.

The New Mexico Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals and ruled that a woman who holds herself out as the child’s parent and has a parental relationship with the child can be a legal parent under New Mexico law, in the same way that a man would be. The Court also made it clear that even if a non-biological parent has not adopted the child she can be recognized as parent, and that once the non-biological parent is recognized as a parent, both parents are equal legal parents under the law and have an equal right to seek custody.

The Court noted that “our Legislature has recognized that there will be many situations in which someone is caring for a child but has not taken any steps to legalize that relationship.” The Court stated that the law recognizes those relationships “because parental rights are not automatically conferred when there is a biological relationship, but rather when an alleged parent has taken the responsibility of caring for a child.”

NCLR Family Protection Project Director Cathy Sakimura said: “This is a tremendously important decision for our client and for many other families and children in New Mexico who have created stable, loving parent-child relationships that are not based on biology. The New Mexico Supreme Court affirmed that the parentage statutes must be applied equally to protect children, regardless of their parents’ marital status, gender, or sexual orientation. We are grateful to the Court for issuing such a thoughtful, well-reasoned opinion that will no doubt serve as a powerful model for courts in other states.”

Bani Chatterjee said: “I’m beyond thrilled. It is so wonderful for my daughter and me to have our relationship recognized and respected. After so many years of tension and uncertainty, this will help us all heal and move forward.”

Caren I. Friedman, one of Bani’s attorneys, said: “I could not be more pleased for my client and for all of the families in New Mexico that will be touched by the Court’s wise and thoughtful decision.  I am grateful that the Court has placed New Mexico among the jurisdictions that interpret the Uniform Parentage Act in a manner that affords broad protection and support for children and their parents.  I also want to express my indebtedness to NCLR for its expertise and commitment to my client’s case.”

Bani Chatterjee was represented by NCLR and New Mexico attorneys Caren I. Friedman and N. Lynn Perls, and initially represented by Jerome Ginsburg.  NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter argued the case in the New Mexico Supreme Court.

Amicus briefs in support of Bani Chatterjee were submitted by a number of family law professors represented by numerous New Mexico family law attorneys, and the National Association of Social Workers represented by the Southwest Women’s Law Center.

Media Contact:

NCLR Communications Director Erik Olvera | Office: 415.392.6257 x324 |EOlvera@NCLRights.org


NCLR applauds the work of Raphael Bostic, Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research at the Department of Housing and Urban Development

June 1, 2012

(Washington DC, June 1, 2012)—Dr. Raphael Bostic, Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research (PD&R) at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), will be leaving HUD on June 1, 2012. Nominated by President Obama, Dr. Bostic has served in this position since July 2009. In his capacity as Assistant Secretary, Dr. Bostic, who is openly gay, has been a dedicated advocate for LGBT rights.

Under his leadership, PD&R has been at the helm of crucial work to target and address housing discrimination and housing needs in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. He has worked tirelessly to further efforts to collect data and research on the discrimination faced by LGBT people seeking housing. In December 2011, his understanding of the unique housing challenges of LGBT elders brought about the first-ever national LGBT Elder Housing Summit. The event, co-sponsored by PD&R, NCLR and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), brought government officials, activists, and academics together to discuss a broad range of issues affecting LGBT elders, including housing, discrimination in long-term care facilities, and how to ensure LGBT elder housing efforts are inclusive of transgender elders and elders of color.

Dr. Bostic earned his Ph.D. in Economics from Stanford University and his B.A. from Harvard University. Prior to HUD, Dr. Bostic was a Professor at the University of Southern California School of Public Policy, Planning, and Development, where he did ground-breaking research on how anti-discrimination laws affect minority homeownership. He also worked at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, where he received a Special Achievement Award for his work on the Community Reinvestment Act.

Statement by NCLR Federal Policy Director Maya Rupert, Esq.:

“Dr. Bostic has been an incredible advocate for the LGBT community in his leadership role at HUD. Dr. Bostic’s commitment to the LGBT community, along with that of many other advocates in the Obama administration, has changed the tone of our dialogue with government agencies and created the space for important policy improvements. He is a dedicated public servant, a tireless advocate, and a friend. It has been a privilege to work in partnership with him.”

Media Contact:

NCLR Communications Director Erik Olvera | Office: 415.392.6257 x324 |EOlvera@NCLRights.org


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