This new series will examine the lives of the diverse LGBT community in the Garden State. On Saturday there will be the 17th Annual Jersey City LGBT Pride Festival exemplifying the strength and growth of our LGBT & allied communities. We can be proud that NJ has taken significant steps forward to provide important rights. However, there is more to accomplish, plus, the Trump administration is taking steps backward which will impact us in the Garden State.
Christian Fuscarino, Executive Director of Garden State Equality (GSE), is optimistic about our future. “With the election of Phil Murphy, we are confident that New Jersey will close the remaining gaps in equality to take the #1 spot from California.” He ads, “In addition to GSE working with the new Governor, we are continuing our anti-bullying work in schools, helping to create safe spaces for older adults, closing the housing gap for homeless LGBT youth, identifying LGBT friendly health care providers and making sure access to care is easy for our community, and will continue to advocate against the bigoted Trump administration.”
In this Part I we are taking a look at the broader framework of recent and proposed laws.
NJ MOVING FORWARD
Governor Christie was strongly opposed to marriage equality, which he fought in the courts until he finally surrendered realizing that the NJ Supreme Court would rule against him. Nonetheless, he has recently signed into law, with bipartisan legislative support, important legislation:
- Barring health insurers and health care providers from discriminating in their coverage or services based on gender identity. Now health insurance companies must cover transgender transition-related care in most plans sold in the Garden State.
- Mandating guidance from the Commissioner of Education on transgender students to ensure their safety and welfare as well as the use of facilities that correspond with their gender identity.
- Providing lesbians and others who want to use non-conventional means to conceive a child access to insurance coverage for fertility treatments if they work for state government or the public schools.
TRUMP ADMINISTRATION MOVING BACKWARD
- Trump in his recent Afghanistan speech spoke about the men and women of our military, “They transcend every line of race, ethnicity, creed, and color to serve together. They operate as one team.” Apparently that “team” now excludes transgenders who he seeks to ban from military service. The White House is preparing instructions to the Pentagon on how to implement the ban.
- In January soon-to-be Attorney General, Jeff Sessions said, “I understand the demands for justice and fairness made by our LGBT community,” vowing to ensure “protecting their rights and their safety.” However, in July the Justice Department filed court papers arguing that a major federal civil rights law does not protect employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation.
- When President Trump was a candidate, he pledged his support for the LGBT community immediately after the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. However he announced in July that he would nominate Sam Brownback, the governor of Kansas and a vocal opponent of gay rights, to be the nation’s ambassador at large for international religious freedom.