Notes from the LGBTQ Rights Committee - Shore Area NOW

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Shore Area NOW LBGTQ Rights Committee met on Wednesday, August 15, 2018 at 6:00pm in Eatontown, NJ. In attendance were: Lynn Hansen,  Aimee Rabino, Abbie Spector and Jill Stack.

The Committee discussed the boos, coups and wait and sees since the last meeting:

·       Boos

o   The Supreme Court Decision on the "Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission" case. The Supreme Court ruled 7 to 2 in favor of a Colorado baker who used the basis of religious liberty to refuse baking a cake for a same-sex couple’s wedding ceremony.

o   The U.S. Supreme Court overturns the unanimous decision of the Washington Supreme Court ruling that a Richland, WA florist had violated the Washington Law Against Discrimination when she refused to sell flowers to a same-sex couple for their wedding. The Court ordered the case sent back to the Washington court for reconsideration in light of its narrow ruling in the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision above.

o    Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer (KS SB 284) and Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (OK SB 1140) signing license-to-discriminate bills that allows taxpayer-funded child welfare agencies to reject foster or adoptive parents based upon the agency's religious beliefs.

o   Supreme Court Justice Kennedy retiring and Trump's pick - Brett Kavanaugh.

·       Coups

o   Governor Murphy signed a bill in early July that allows transgender residents to change their gender marker on their birth certificates without proof of surgery.Governor Murphy also signed bills allowing gender identity to be reflected on death certificates and establishing a Transgender Task Force.

o   On July 26th, a federal court ordered a Florida School District (in a suburb of Jacksonville) to allow a transgender student to use the men’s restroom.

o   There will be Equality License Plates available in NJ.

o   On May 23rd, a federal district court has struck down a Missouri Department of Corrections (MDOC) policy as cruel and unusual punishment because it denied vital health care to transgender people.

·       Wait and Sees

o   Will the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to uphold the lower court ruling in Karnoski v. Trump and maintain the ban on implementation of the Trump administration’s discriminatory ban on transgender military service?

o   On June 5th, the State of Alaska denied a state employee health care coverage for transition related care and Lambda Legal is suing.

o   Still bubbling:

§  On March 29th, the ACLU and Lambda Legal filed a lawsuitchallenging Ohio’s refusal to correct the gender marker on birth certificates for transgender individuals, for any reason, at any time.

§  On January 5th, Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit against St. Joseph’s Healthcare in Paterson, New Jersey, after the hospital refused to allow Jionni Conforti’s surgeon to perform a routine hysterectomy because Jionni is transgender.

Lynn announced the following event: Saturday, October 13th - Equality Walk in Asbury Park with Garden State Equality (GSE). Registration is at 4:00pm. The walk is at 5:00pm.

The committee then had a retrospective discussion on our tabling effort for the Pride Festival in Asbury Park on Sunday, June 3rd. We all agreed the efforts of everyone involved was stellar and the weather could have been better. The following suggestions were made for next year (assuming tabling costs are not prohibitive):

·       More help is needed in lugging the merchandise, canopy and tables from the car to the tabling site.

·       The table setup from 2017 Pride (two tables parallel to the midway with one table in front displaying the wares and one table in back storing the inventory) worked better than the table setup from 2018 Pride (two tables perpendicular to the midway). 

·       To make it less chaotic, workers can be assigned jobs (e.g., sales, replenishing displays with merchandise, taking money, having petitions signed, etc) that can be rotated as the day goes on. This will be particularly helpful when new volunteers are joining the fray.

·       We need to have organization information cards on hand to share with Pride attendees inquiring about Shore Area NOW.

Jill reported on new legislation on LGBTQ Rights that was introduced after our last meeting. On July 10th, Bill S3188 (Gay and Trans Panic Defense Prohibition Act of 2018) was introduced to the U.S. Senate by Senator Edward Markey from MA. Because the bill was so new, the group decided to follow it to see where it goes before taking action. Jill will report on the bill's progress at the next sit-down meeting.

Lynn reported on the stage that NJ Bill S1569/A1335 are in. Bill S1569/A1335 "Requires boards of education to include instruction, and adopt instructional materials that accurately portray political, economic, and social contributions of persons with disabilities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and Transgender people". This is the flagship bill that the Shore Area NOW LGBTQ Rights Committee is working on. Thanks to Senator Teresa Ruiz (NJ Senate Education Committee Chair and S1569 Co-Sponsor) and Senator Loretta Weinberg (S1569 Co-Sponsor), S1569 passed through the Senate and is now sitting with the NJ Assembly Education Committee as A1335. Lynn (on behalf of the LGBTQ Rights Committee) has been reaching out to Asw Valerie Vainieri Huttle (A1335 Primary Sponsor) to request that she move the bill with Asw Pamela Lampitt (NJ Assembly Education Committee Chair). Through Jessica Schwartz (Legislative Director for Asw Vainieri Huttle), Lynn received assurance that we have Asw Vainieri Huttle's word that she will request A1335 be heard at the first Assembly Education Committee Meeting of the season which is expected on 9/17/18. Lynn also enlisted the support of Christian Fuscarino (Executive Director of Garden State Equality(GSE)) on A1335. Christian will be contacting the appropriate legislative representatives on this bill and help push it forward. GSE would like to have the bill named in honor of Carol Watchler (Carol is a retired high school educator and co-chair of GLSEN). Shore Area NOW is in full support of that.

Aimee shared that GSE is continuing with strong action in the education area with their "Teach and Affirm" Program. Aimee will continue tracking GSE activity in the education realm.

Jill identified the members of the Federal Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection Subcommittee and identified the stage that Bill HR2119 (Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act) is in. It was noted that Rep. Frank Pallone is a co-sponsor on Bill HR2119 and is a member of the Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection Subcommittee. Jill will contact Frank Pallone's office to get an understanding of how best to move this bill forward and minimize the thrashing of the Shore Area NOW LGBTQ Rights Committee. She will report on this at our next sit-down meeting.

The LGBTQ Rights Committee will not meet on Wednesday, October 17, 2018. In lieu of that meeting, the LGBTQ Rights Committee will join Garden State Equality in Asbury Park for the Equality Walk on Saturday, October 13, 2018. Actual sit-down meetings for the LGBTQ Rights Committee will resume in 2019.

Submitted by: Lynn Hansen