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Exciting news out of the Golden State! California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill on Tuesday that will make it easier for transgender Californians to obtain a birth certificate with sex and name alterations. Previously, a court order was necessary, a costly and public affair that infringed on the wallets and privacy of those attempting to obtain proper documents.
The Associated Press reports:
Currently, people born in California can only get their birth certificates amended by court order, a process that transgender rights advocates argued is expensive and needlessly invasive since a legal notice of the requested changes has to be published in a newspaper.
The bill the governor signed Tuesday, AB1121 by San Diego Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, authorizes the state registrar to issue a birth certificate with a corrected sex to a transgender person who provides proof of having undergone appropriate medical treatment.
Judges will still have to sign off on name changes, but will be able to do so without holding a formal hearing. The law also eliminates the legal notice requirement.
Congratulations to all those impacted positively by this new law. It is nice to see progressive lawmaking for the transgender community, which also recently saw support from the Social Security Administration. Of course, the California GOP constituency is backing the repeal of the recently passed transgender student protection law, and transgender students around the country are receiving mixed feedback from peers following homecoming queen and king wins. Still, the small steps are exciting and, in many ways, life-changing.
On Wednesday morning in Charlotte, North Carolina, three couples were denied marriage licenses by the Mecklenburg Country Register of Deeds in accordance with the same-sex marriage ban written into the state constitution in 2012. The couples were taking part in a peaceful protest arranged by the Campaign for Southern Equality in order to bring awareness to the marriage ban. A similar test of the law occurred just last week in Henderson County, North Carolina.
Register of Deeds J. David Granberry met the couples and broke the bad news, but later offered words of support.
Granberry said he and his staff attempted to remain somber throughout the protest and do their jobs. He also said his staff wanted to respect the couples’ rights.
“[We] try to be respectful and let everybody say their piece, and that’s mostly what I think it’s about, to give them an opportunity to be seen and to be heard,” he said. “And, we can’t particularly do something because right now it’s against the statutes and the constitution for the state, but we can definitely let people express themselves and exercise their free speech and, certainly, they have the right to come down and ask for a marriage license.”
Granberry also noted that Mecklenburg County residents voted against last year’s anti-LGBT state constitutional amendment. “I’m hoping that [the protest] will start changing people’s minds,” he said.
The protest was an emotional one for all involved. Scott Bishop and Ron Sperry, the first couple to attempt to retrieve their license, got teary as Sperry recited an eloquent speech to his partner:
“I don’t think it’s hard to imagine that every happily married couple remembers the day they walked up to this counter or a counter like this one to apply for their marriage license,” he said. “I bet that they all remember how they felt and the butterflies that they felt at the time. I want you to know that I feel butterflies, too, and not for all the reasons you would think, but because I get to stand here in front of anyone who will listen and tell them that I want to be with you for the rest of my life. I love you very much.”
The couples said they deserve to have their relationships recognized in their home states, just as their straight friends’ relationships are recognized. In 2011, Tanner participated in marrying several Charlotte gay couples in Washington, D.C., where same-sex marriages are recognized. Her partner, Alderman, said North Carolina should grant them the same rights.
“We live here,” Alderman said. “It should be here, where we live. We feel really strongly about that.”
Watch a video of the protest and Ron Sperry's emotional speech, AFTER THE JUMP...
This Tuesday, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that would allow unmarried and same-sex couples to access insurance coverage for the same fertility treatments that married, different-sex couples are provided, the AP reported:
The legislation, AB460, clarifies the non-discrimination provision of an existing state law that requires health plans to offer coverage for fertility treatments, except for in vitro fertilization.
Despite the existing law, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, said many same-sex couples have been denied the coverage. In praising Brown's signature on his bill, Ammiano said reproductive medicine should be for the benefit of everyone.
"To restrict fertility coverage solely to heterosexual married couples violates California's non-discrimination laws," he said in a statement. "I wrote this bill to correct that."
The new law will take effect in January, and contains language prohibiting insurance plans that offer fertility coverage from discriminating on any grounds, including "domestic partner status, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, marital status ... sex or sexual orientation."
Fertility issues for same-sex couples can be a hot-button issue, politically: when the French legislature approved a bill legalizing marriage equality in the country, fertility rights were left out of the debate.
Here's something to brighten your day. Amidst all the hateful nonsense that has been pouring out of Russia, particularly within the past few months, a positive message comes courtesy of Russian athletes who competed at the World Out games in Antwerp, Belgium a few months ago. The athletes chose to show their support by posing for Adam Bouska and Jeff Parshley's iconic NOH8 campaign despite the very real possibility of reprisal by way of fines or worse that could come their way for speaking out, as it were. A shot of the shoot itself can be found on Bouska's Twitter feed, and more information about the NOH8 campaign can be found on their homepage.
A new bill that would strip gay parents of their child custody rights will be debated in Russia this February. The law upholds the child protective values that the country's recently instated gay propaganda laws do, namely that children will be harmed psychologically in environments where "non-traditional sexual values" are on display.
The AFP reports:
The author of the bill, Alexei Zhuravlyov of the United Russia ruling party, has cited a controversial study on gay parenting conducted in 2012 by conservative US professor Mark Regnerus.
The New Family Structures study claimed that adult children of lesbian mothers reported lower income and poorer health than children brought up by heterosexual couples.
In an interview with Slon.Ru last month, Mr Zhuravlyov said that "exposing" homosexuals would be easy enough once their children were in school.
"Homosexuals should not bring up children," he said. "It brings more harm than an orphanage."
Previously, parents could be stripped of their custodial rights for alcoholism, abandonment, and abuse. Clearly the care and love of one or more homosexual parents would exact the same amount of harm.
It sounds as though the law is intended not only to remove children from the "harmful" situations in which they are raised, but also to point fingers and make arrests under the propaganda law. With increases in anti-gay violence, denial of celebrity visas, and plain old arrests being made under the new law, its extent can only be imagined at this point. Who's to say what these parents might face?