CA Governor Brown Signs Bill To Protect LGBT Youth From Psychological Abuse

September 30, 2012

(San Francisco, CA, September 29, 2012)—California Governor Jerry Brown made history today by signing a landmark bill that will protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth from psychological abuse by deceitful mental health professionals who falsely claim to be able to change their sexual orientation or gender expression. With Governor Brown’s signature, California becomes the first state in the nation to protect LGBT young people from these dangerous practices, including the use of shame, verbal abuse, and aversion therapy, that place youth at high risk of depression and suicide.  The law, which goes into effect January 1, 2013, prohibits state-licensed therapists from engaging in these practices with minors.

Authored by Senator Ted Lieu, Senate Bill 1172 was co-sponsored by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Equality California, Gaylesta, Courage Campaign, Lambda Legal, and Mental Health America of Northern California, and supported by dozens of organizations.

“Governor Brown today reaffirmed what medical and mental health organizations have made clear: Efforts to change minors’ sexual orientation are not therapy, they are the relics of prejudice and abuse that have inflicted untold harm on young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Californians,” said Clarissa Filgioun, Equality California board president. “We thank Senator Ted Lieu and Governor Brown for their efforts in making California a leader in banning this deceptive and harmful practice.”

Added NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell: “Governor Brown has sent a powerful message of affirmation and support to LGBT youth and their families. This law will ensure that state-licensed therapists can no longer abuse their power to harm LGBT youth and propagate the dangerous and deadly lie that sexual orientation is an illness or disorder that can be ‘cured.’”

Ryan Kendall, a survivor of the practice who testified in the Perry v. Brown legal challenge to Proposition 8, described his experience earlier this summer to the Assembly Business, Professions and Consumer Protection Committee: “As a young teen, the anti-gay practice of so-called conversion therapy destroyed my life and tore apart my family. In order to stop the therapy that misled my parents into believing that I could somehow be made straight, I was forced to run away from home, surrender myself to the local department of human services, and legally separate myself from my family. At the age of 16, I had lost everything. My family and my faith had rejected me, and the damaging messages of conversion therapy, coupled with this rejection, drove me to the brink of suicide.”

This victory would not have been possible without the dedication and collaboration of dozens of organizations and individuals, many of whom—such as survivors Kendall and Peter Drake—opened their lives and sacrificed their privacy to share the damage they suffered as a result of these abusive practices. In addition to the SB 1172’s sponsors, the bill was supported by dozens of organizations, including a number of mental health organizations, including: The California Psychological Association, the American Psychoanalytic Association, the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (California Division), the National Association of Social Workers (CA Chapter), the California Latino Psychological Association, and the California Council of Community Mental Health Agencies.

Media Contacts:

NCLR Communications Director Erik Olvera | Office: 415.365.1324 | EOlvera@NCLRights.org

EQCA Media Contact Steve Roth | Office: 323.951.0059 | Steve@OutThinkPartners.com


CA Governor Signs Bill Ensuring Equal Access to Fertility Services for Same-Sex Couples

September 28, 2012

(San Francisco, CA, September 28, 2012)—Today, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill to ensure that women in same-sex relationships and single women can access fertility services on the same terms as women in different-sex relationships. Assembly Bill 2356, authored by Assemblymember Nancy Skinner and co-sponsored by Equality California and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, allows women using known donors to access certain fertility procedures that are less expensive and more effective.

“Women’s issues once again are at the forefront of national debate. AB 2356 ensures that all women have equal access to fertility services,” Skinner said. “I am grateful Governor Brown signed legislation that will eliminate barriers LGBT and single women confront when seeking to conceive.”

“The decisions regarding building a family are a core freedom in California. Same-sex couples have faced many barriers in forming families, including unequal access to fertility healthcare,” said Clarissa Filgioun, Equality California Board President. “This unequal treatment has, heartbreakingly, denied many couples the opportunity to conceive a child of their own. Signing AB 2356 works to remedy that disparity, putting the joy of having a child and building a family within the reach of all loving families. We thank Assemblymember Skinner for her leadership on this bill and Governor Brown for removing one more barrier to a state of equality.”

Said NCLR Family Protection Project Director Cathy Sakimura: “This law allows doctors and providers to provide services that are currently only available to different-sex couples to people using known donors. Many intended parents who would not otherwise be able to afford any fertility services will be able to access safer and more effective procedures under this new law. We applaud the Governor and the Legislature for recognizing that same-sex couples, transgender people, and single women should have equal access to fertility services.”

Increasingly, same-sex couples and single women are asking trusted friends to be donors to help them conceive a child. With this signing, women who seek fertility services with a known donor who is not their partner are no longer subject to time-consuming and costly repeat testing that decreases the chance of successful conception. Now women who have unsuccessfully attempted to conceive at home with a known donor have access the same fertility services available to different-sex couples.

The law will go into effect on January 1, 2013.

Media Contact: NCLR Communications Director Erik Olvera | Office: 415.365.1324 | EOlvera@NCLRights.org


Contraception Legal Battle Impacts LGBT Community

September 28, 2012

By Laura Nixon
NCLR Law Students for Reproductive Justice Fellow

On Friday September 21, the National Center for Lesbian Rights attended a symposium at the Georgetown University Law Center on “Contraception and Conscience: A Symposium on Religious Liberty, Women’s Health, and the HHS Rule on Provision of Birth Control Coverage for Employees.”

Anti-choice politicians and groups have tried to generate controversy around the contraception provisions in the preventative care regulations related to the Affordable Care Act. The regulations required that employers offering group health plans must provide certain preventative care to employees without cost-sharing. For women, the required preventative care services were based on a report by the Institute of Medicine, which, among other services, included the following important preventative services: well-woman visits; breastfeeding support; domestic violence screening; and Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved contraceptive methods. These contraceptive methods include, among others: prescription contraception, emergency contraception, and intrauterine devices (IUDs).

Subsequently, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued an additional regulation providing that certain purely religious institutions (such as churches), were exempt from the requirement that their group health insurance plan(s) cover FDA approved contraceptive methods.  This type of accommodation for a religious institution is common to strike the appropriate balance between ensuring access to comprehensive care and respecting that some purely religious institutions see such provision as a violation of their faith tenets.  Nonetheless, in what some commentators saw as a political ploy to generate criticism of President Obama, more than 40 religiously-affiliated organizations filed lawsuits against HHS, claiming that the exemption for religious groups is too narrow and violates their religious freedom. The symposium explored this legal battle.

This debate has a huge impact on the LGBT community. Access to contraception, emergency contraception, and abortion care are important healthcare issues for lesbians, trans people, and bisexual and queer women.  It is crucial for the LGBT community that comprehensive healthcare and contraception remain fully accessible and affordable for all who need it. This is particularly important for those living in poverty or with low-incomes – who are disproportionately women of color – and are especially vulnerable to these efforts that make care prohibitively expensive.  Affordable reproductive healthcare is especially important for queer youth, for reasons that law professor Ruthann Robson points out in this op-ed:

[Q]ueer youth are especially vulnerable. They may have engaged in heterosexual sex for a variety of reasons, including coercion, intimidation, camouflage, sexual abuse, or survival/commercial sex. They may also be less likely to use birth control and several studies have documented that lesbian youth are two to ten times more likely to become pregnant than their heterosexual counterparts . . .

NCLR was proud to have been involved in advocacy efforts around the HHS regulation making contraception affordable, as part of a society where all people have the resources they need to make meaningful decisions about the trajectory of their lives. We stand with reproductive justice advocates in supporting affordable contraception as an important part of reproductive healthcare.

Media Contact: NCLR Communications Director Erik Olvera | Office: 415.365.1324 | EOlvera@NCLRights.org


Nearly 50,000 People Tell CA Gov. Jerry Brown to Stop the Psychological Abuse of Children, Support Bill Banning Use of Harmful Practices

September 27, 2012

(Washington, D.C, September 27, 2012)—Momentum is building in California and across the country to put an end to dangerous efforts designed to change a young person’s sexual orientation or gender expression that have proven to inflict great emotional harm and have resulted in suicide.  Governor Jerry Brown can sign Senate Bill 1172, a bill to protect young people from this abuse by prohibiting therapists from using these discredited practices.  To date, nearly 50,000 concerned citizens have signed a Human Rights Campaign petition urging the Governor to sign the bill.

“It is time to safeguard the most vulnerable among us by ending the abusive practice of subjecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth to damaging attempts to change their sexual orientation or gender expression,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Research has shown that far from being beneficial or even neutral, these efforts cause serious, lasting harm.”

Authored by California Senator Ted Lieu, SB 1172 is sponsored by Equality California, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Gaylesta, Lambda Legal, Mental Health of North America, and the Courage Campaign. 

“This legislation is one of the most important bills our community has ever sponsored,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights Executive Director Kate Kendell. “Governor Brown has an opportunity to ensure that state-licensed therapists cannot subject young people to practices that have been universally condemned by mainstream medical experts and that cause terrible harm.” 

Signing this bill into law will protect California’s most vulnerable, like Ryan Kendall whose parents subjected him to the cruel practice that drove him to drug abuse, homelessness, and thoughts of suicide that lasted a decade. Kendall wrote an email to HRC’s more than one million members and supporters yesterday urging them to sign the petition to the Governor.  Additionally, this summer HRC sent a letter to Gov. Brown urging him to support SB 1172.

Efforts to change sexual orientation or gender expression have been debunked as junk science, and have also been proven harmful to children and adults.  All major medical and mental health organizations have denounced the practice including: the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American School Counselor Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Psychoanalytic Association, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Pan American Health Organization.  Learn more at www.hrc.org/reparativetherapy

The petition to Gov. Brown is available at: https://secure3.convio.net/hrc/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=1493

Media Contact: NCLR Communications Director Erik Olvera | Office: 415.365.1324 | EOlvera@NCLRights.org


$75K Fund Opens Today to Help LGBT Undocumented Immigrants Pay for Application Fees Under Deferred Action Program

September 21, 2012

(San Francisco, CA, September 21, 2012)—Young lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender undocumented immigrants struggling to pay application fees under President Obama’s new “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA) can now receive financial help.

Today, the LGBT Dreamers Fund—made possible by more than $75,000 in contributions from LGBT movement leaders—officially begins accepting applications, giving many young LGBT undocumented immigrants a chance to apply for the protections available under the President’s new program.

The President’s program allows young people who were brought to the country as children to apply for relief from deportation and for two-year renewable work permits. The program is the result of several years of advocacy led by young undocumented people, who are known as “Dreamers” because of their active support of the federal “DREAM Act,” the stalled federal bill that would put Dreamers on the path to permanent U.S. residency and eventual citizenship. A significant number of Dreamer leaders are members of the LGBT community and have been instrumental in making “coming out” as undocumented one of the DREAM Act movement’s most effective organizing tactics.

Under current law, Dreamers are not eligible to work, making the DACA application fees of nearly $470 largely out of reach. The National Center for Lesbian Rights and the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center rallied other LGBT organizations across the country to contribute to the “LGBT Dreamers Fund” to help young LGBT undocumented immigrants pay these fees.

Launched with a challenge grant from the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, 49 organizations and individual leaders (listed below) have contributed so far to the fund, which has been established at the Liberty Hill Foundation. Applicants can apply for the fund at www.LibertyHill.org/LGBTDreamersFund beginning at 9 a.m. PST today.

“This will truly help change lives, and gives us an opportunity to achieve goals that seemed completely impossible for most of our lives,” said 28-year-old Jorge Gutierrez, a leader in the national DREAM movement who is gay and also the project coordinator of the Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project, a project of United We DREAM. “Coming out as gay helped me come out as undocumented, which has been so much more difficult and challenging. I was brought to this country as a young child, and raised here by a hardworking single mother who devoted her life to making lives better for my siblings and me. It was with her determination and support that I was able to go to college, pay for tuition without any financial assistance, and earn a bachelor’s degree in English from Cal State Fullerton. Since graduation I have been unable, due to my immigration status, to use my skills to give back to this country that has given me so much. President Obama’s program and this fund will really help change lives—clearing the way of obstacles for others like me who are eager to make a difference and now have the opportunity.”

Said NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell: “With extraordinary courage, creativity, and tenacity, LGBT Dreamers have been at the forefront of this movement for basic fairness and equality. When President Obama rose above politics to do the right thing for these brave young people we were moved, grateful, and wanted to help. We need these hardworking, talented youth to build a stronger future, and they need and deserve a chance to stop living in fear and on the margins. But the reality is that most of these young people will not have a chance to apply because of the cost. This fund is at the core of what our movement is about—standing together and making a difference in the lives of people who are part of our diverse community.”

The Liberty Hill Foundation is overseeing the administration of the fund, which includes processing the online applications, vetting all applications, and disseminating the funds.

The LGBT Dreamers Fund will be available on a first-come, first-served basis for qualified candidates.

Fund contributors so far:

•    Aaron Belkin, Executive Director of the Palm Center
•    Center on Halsted (Chicago)
•    The Center/GLBT Community Center of Colorado
•    Cream City Foundation (Milwaukee, WI)
•    The Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada
•    Centerlink
•    Equality Federation
•    Equality Maine
•    Family Equality Council
•    Freedom to Marry
•    Gay City Health Project (Seattle)
•    Gay Community Center of Richmond
•    Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC)
•    Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD)
•    Greater Palm Springs Pride
•    GSA Network
•    Horizons Foundation
•    Human Rights Campaign (HRC)
•    Immigration Equality
•    Paul Kawata, Executive Director of the National Minority AIDS Council
•    L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center
•    Lambda Legal
•    LGBT Center of Central PA
•    LGBT Center of Raleigh
•    LGBT Project of the ACLU
•    Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition
•    MassEquality
•    Mautner Project Board and Staff
•    Metropolitan Charities
•    National Center for Lesbian Rights
•    National Coalition for LGBT Health
•    National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund
•    National Stonewall Democrats
•    The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center (New York City)
•    One Colorado
•    Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
•    The OUTreach Center (Madison, WI)
•    Pride Foundation
•    Pridelines Youth Services (Miami Shores, FL)
•    Q Center (Portland, OR)
•    Rainbow Community Center (Contra Costa, CA)
•    Ruth Ellis Center, Inc. (Detroit)
•    San Diego LGBT Community Center
•    Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE)
•    Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN)
•    San Francisco LGBT Community Center
•    Transgender Law Center
•    The Trevor Project
•    True Colors
•    And several additional individual donors

Apply for the LGBT Dreamers Fund at www.LibertyHill.org/LGBTDreamersFund beginning at 9 a.m. PST today.

Contribute to the fund at www.LibertyHill.org/LGBTDreamersContribute.

Media Contact: NCLR Communications Director Erik Olvera | Office: 415.365.1324 | EOlvera@NCLRights.org


Closets Are For Clothes: The Social Justice Sexuality Project

September 18, 2012

By Laura Nixon
NCLR Law Students for Reproductive Justice Fellow

This morning, the National Center for Lesbian Rights attended a national briefing sponsored by the National Black Justice Coalition and the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus titled “Closets Are For Clothes: Being LGBT and POC in America.”  The briefing included a presentation by Dr. Juan Battle, a professor at the City University of New York, regarding some of the key findings of the Social Justice Sexuality Project, a national study of the experiences of LGBT people of color in the United States.

The Social Justice Sexuality Project is unique in that its inquiries move away from a perspective of pathology to investigating sociopolitical experiences of LGBT people of color around five themes: racial and sexual identity; spirituality and religion; mental and physical health; family formations and dynamics; and civic and community engagement. More than 5,000 LGBT people of color completed the survey and these respondents came from all 50 states and Puerto Rico, including urban, rural, and suburban areas – everywhere we know that members of our community live!

In his presentation, Dr. Battle highlighted some findings that push back against harmful myths and stereotypes about the Black community that arose following the passage of Proposition 8.  For example, the study found that over 90 percent of Black LGBT people are out to their friends and family, and 70% of these Black LGBT people report feeling supported by their families to some degree, with 36.9% feeling completely supported.  In addition, nearly three-quarters of Black LGBT people indicated that their racial or ethnic status was an important part of their identity and a similar percentage indicated that their sexual orientation was also an important part of their identity.   This data affirms our work at National Center for Lesbian Rights to create spaces and communities where LGBT people can bring their full selves to our movement for social change.

You can learn more about the Project at http://www.socialjusticesexuality.com/.  Please share this important resource with your family, friends, and colleagues!

Media Contact: NCLR Communications Director Erik Olvera | Office: 415.365.1324 | EOlvera@NCLRights.org


More than $75,000 Raised by LGBT Organizations and Leaders to Help Dreamers Apply for New “Deferred Action” Program

September 12, 2012

(San Francisco, CA, September 12, 2012)—More than $75,000 has been raised by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) organizations and LGBT movement leaders to help young LGBT undocumented immigrants pay for work permit applications made possible through President Obama’s new “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA) program.

The President’s program, which took effect on August 15, 2012, allows young people who were brought to the country as children to apply for relief from deportation and for two-year renewable work permits. It is the result of several years of increasingly powerful and courageous advocacy led by young undocumented people, who are known as “Dreamers” because of their active support of the federal “DREAM Act.” Currently stalled in Congress, the law would put Dreamers on the path to permanent U.S. residency and eventual citizenship. A significant number of Dreamer leaders are LGBT and have been instrumental in making “coming out” as undocumented one of the DREAM Act movement’s most effective organizing tactics.

Under current law, Dreamers cannot obtain lawful employment, making the DACA application fees of nearly $470 largely out of reach. The National Center for Lesbian Rights and the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center rallied other LGBT organizations across the country to contribute to the “LGBT Dreamers Fund” to help young LGBT undocumented immigrants pay these fees. Launched with a challenge grant from the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, 48 organizations and individual leaders (listed below) have contributed so far to the fund, which has been established at the Liberty Hill Foundation. Applicants can apply for the fund at www.LibertyHill.org/LGBTDreamersFund beginning at 9 a.m. PST on September 21, 2012.

Fund organizers are still accepting contributions from organizations and individuals, hoping to reach $100,000 so they can help provide assistance to more than 200 LGBT Dreamers who qualify for the DACA program. Contributions can be made online at www.LibertyHill.org/LGBTDreamersContribute.

“I am extremely grateful for the outpouring of support from so many people in our community, who believe in us and are giving us an opportunity to achieve goals that seemed completely impossible for most of our lives,” said 28-year-old Jorge Gutierrez, a leader in the national Dream movement who is gay and also the project coordinator of the Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project, a project of United We Dream. “Coming out as gay helped me come out as undocumented, which has been so much more difficult and challenging. I was brought to this country as a young child, and raised here by a hardworking single mother who devoted her life to making lives better for my siblings and me. It was with her determination and support that I was able to go to college, pay for tuition without any financial assistance, and earn a bachelor’s degree in English from Cal State Fullerton. Since graduation I have been unable, due to my immigration status, to use my skills to give back to this country that has given me so much. President Obama’s program and this fund will really help change lives—clearing the way of obstacles for others like me who are eager to make a difference and now have the opportunity.”

Said NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell: “With extraordinary courage, creativity, and tenacity, LGBT Dreamers have been at the forefront of this movement for basic fairness and equality. When President Obama rose above politics to do the right thing for these brave young people we were moved, grateful, and wanted to help. We need these hardworking, talented youth to build a stronger future, and they need and deserve a chance to stop living in fear and on the margins. But the reality is that most of these young people will not have a chance to apply because of the cost. This fund is at the core of what our movement is about—standing together and making a difference in the lives of people who are part of our diverse community.”

Added L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center Chief of Staff Darrel Cummings: “These young people, like everyone else, are entitled to a life free of discrimination and full of hope. It’s gratifying and heartwarming that so many organizations and individuals have stepped forward to support those who need and deserve it.”

The Liberty Hill Foundation is overseeing the administration of the fund, which includes processing the online applications, vetting all applications, and disseminating the funds.

The LGBT Dreamers Fund will be available on a first-come, first-served basis for qualified candidates. The application will be available www.LibertyHill.org/LGBTDreamersFund beginning at 9 a.m. PST on September 21, 2012.

Organizations that have contributed so far to the fund:

  • Aaron Belkin, Executive Director of the  Palm Center
  • Center on Halsted (Chicago)
  • The Center/GLBT Community Center of Colorado
  • The Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada
  • Centerlink
  • Cream City Foundation
  • Equality Federation
  • Equality Maine
  • Family Equality Council
  • Freedom to Marry
  • Gay City Health Project (Seattle)
  • Gay Community Center of Richmond
  • Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC)
  • Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD)
  • Greater Palm Springs Pride
  • GSA Network
  • Horizons Foundation
  • Human Rights Campaign (HRC)
  • Immigration Equality
  • Paul Kawata, Executive Director of the National Minority AIDS Council
  • L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center
  • Lambda Legal
  • LGBT Center of Central PA
  • LGBT Center of Raleigh
  • LGBT Project of the ACLU
  • Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition
  • MassEquality
  • Mautner Project Board and Staff
  • Metropolitan Charities
  • National Center for Lesbian Rights
  • National Coalition for LGBT Health
  • National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund
  • National Stonewall Democrats
  • The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center (New York City)
  • One Colorado
  • Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
  • The OUTreach Center (Madison, WI)
  • Pride Foundation
  • Pridelines Youth Services (Miami Shores, FL)
  • Q Center (Portland, OR)
  • Rainbow Community Center (Contra Costa, CA)
  • Ruth Ellis Center, Inc. (Detroit)
  • San Diego LGBT Community Center
  • Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE)
  • Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN)
  • San Francisco LGBT Community Center
  • Transgender Law Center
  • The Trevor Project
  • True Colors

Contribute to the fund at www.LibertyHill.org/LGBTDreamersContribute.

Apply for the LGBT Dreamers Fund at www.LibertyHill.org/LGBTDreamersFund beginning at 9 a.m. PST on September 21, 2012.

Media Contact: NCLR Communications Director Erik Olvera | Office: 415.365.1324 | EOlvera@NCLRights.org


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