I am proud to share with you that the House of Representatives just voted 236-173 to pass The Equality Act!
Today’s passage means we are now one step closer to securing historic non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ Americans nationwide and ensuring equality under the law truly means equality for all.
Now, The Equality Act moves on to the U.S. Senate, where we face a tough, uphill battle.
We worked hard to secure the support of every Representative in our state, and you should be proud that New Jersey’s Democratic Congressional Caucus voted unanimously to support The Equality Act in addition to sponsoring the bill. We’re especially grateful to Congressman Jeff Van Drew (NJ-02) for joining the rest of the caucus in support of equality. The only lawmaker from New Jersey who voted against our community was Republican Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04).
As the Equality Act moves to the U.S. Senate, we will be working diligently with our national partners as well as our allies Senator Cory Booker and Senator Bob Menendez to get this critical legislation passed.
Thanks for helping us make this day possible. We’re moving New Jersey and the nation forward.
Garden State Equality
Governor Murphy orders New Jersey Army National Guard to Defy Trump’s Ban on Transgender Military Service MembersContinue reading
New Jersey Becomes Sixth State to Protect Trans National Guard Members
Today, Governor Murphy issued an order to exercise every available option of power to allow transgender individuals to serve openly in the New Jersey Army National Guard. The executive action comes in defiance of the Trump Administration’s ban on transgender service members, which took effect on April 12, 2019.
Under previous state administrations, swift action, or any action at all, would have been unlikely without public pressure. Given the Governor’s commitment to LGBTQ equality, Garden State Equality was able to work closely with his office to develop implementation.
New Jersey now joins five other states that have taken action: California, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, and New Mexico. Governors have primary control over National Guard policy for their state.
"Since the Trump-Pence administration’s ban on transgender service members went into effect last month, this disgraceful policy is already wreaking havoc. We’ve seen college students lose their military scholarships, countless recruits be turned away, and the jobs and healthcare of nearly 15,000 active and reserve transgender service members at risk of being terminated,” said Christian Fuscarino, executive director for Garden State Equality. “Governor Murphy’s bold action today to protect transgender troops serving in the New Jersey Army National Guard is a critical defense against the President’s unconstitutional and discriminatory ban, and it means brave transgender public servants can get back to work defending our nation without fear of being discharged.“
“As I have stated before, President Trump’s policy targeting transgender individuals who wish to serve in our military is abhorrent and un-American,” said New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. “I am proud to join with Governors in sister states, including California, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington, in declaring firm opposition to this policy and announcing my intention to use every option available to allow transgender individuals to serve in the National Guard. Under my administration, New Jersey has joined the multi-state coalition that has urged the courts to strike down the transgender ban as unconstitutional, and we will continue to fight this bigoted policy and defend the rights of all New Jersey residents.”
In February 2018, under the leadership of Governor Murphy and Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, New Jersey also joined a coalition of states to overturn the ban with an amicus filing in federal court in the case Ryan Karnoski v. Trump. Various litigation is pending throughout the federal courts, and the U.S. Supreme Court is anticipated to hear a case in the coming months.
The Trump administration’s ban affects as many as 15,000 active and reserve transgender service members across the nation. Individuals who come out—or are found out—as transgender after April 12 will be subject to discharge unless they renounce their identity. A few hundred service members who previously transitioned before the April 12 deadline are permitted to continue to serve. Under the Trump administration’s policy, no future recruits who are transgender will be permitted to enlist in the military. The policy has additionally resulted in transgender college students from losing military scholarships.
Just now, Governor Phil Murphy issued an order to allow transgender troops to serve openly in the New Jersey Army National Guard—exercising every available option in his power—in defiance of the Trump-Pence administration’s discriminatory ban.
Under the previous administration, swift action—or any action at all—would have been unlikely without public pressure. Given the Governor’s commitment to LGBTQ equality, Garden State Equality was able to work closely with his office to develop implementation.
New Jersey now joins five other states across the nation in clearly stating: this ban is discriminatory, it’s unconstitutional, and we won’t enforce it.
This is an important step to protect dedicated public servants within our state borders, but transgender troops across the nation in other military branches are still at risk. Since the ban went into effect last month, this disgraceful policy is already wreaking havoc:
- Trans college students are losing their military scholarships.
- Countless trans recruits are being denied enlistment at a time when overall recruitment is down.
- And almost 15,000 active and reserve trans service members are being forced back in the closet—at risk of losing their job and their healthcare.
There’s numerous cases working their way through federal courts right now which will eventually get in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. Fortunately, last year, under the leadership of Governor Murphy and Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, New Jersey also joined a coalition of states to overturn the ban with an amicus filing in federal court.
Governor Murphy’s bold action today to protect transgender troops serving in the New Jersey Army National Guard is a critical defense against the President’s unconstitutional and discriminatory ban, and for now, it means brave transgender service members can get back to work defending our nation without fear of being discharged.
We couldn’t be doing this work for transgender equality here in New Jersey without your steadfast support—and our allies in Trenton. We're making a real difference.
Thanks for standing with us and, more importantly, with our troops.
Garden State Equality
Ensuring quality of life for LGBTQ older adults is critical to Garden State Equality’s mission.
In the next decade, it’s estimated there will be more than five million Americans over the age of fifty who identify as LGBTQ, and studies show the older adult community already experiences unique challenges including isolation poverty, and significant health disparities. Worse, due to a lack of affirming services, many LGBTQ people find themselves going back into the closet.
That’s why we launched our Pledge & Protect program: to confront these issues head-on and build a network of compassionate, inclusive services across every corner of New Jersey.
All of our important work in this area is coming together next month in an exciting educational and professional event:
Through our partnership with Green Hill senior living community, we’re hosting the 2nd Annual LGBTQ Senior Housing & Care Expo—bringing together LGBTQ people and service providers to build more affirming healthcare and environments for senior living.
Whether you are an LGBTQ older adult, a healthcare provider, or work with older adult communities, you will learn about important tools and resources to foster inclusive communities and care.
This year’s expo includes educational seminars on:
- Making the case for LGBTQ senior inclusion
- Healthcare needs and partnerships
- Environment & culture in an LGBTQ senior community
- Cultural competency certification across channels
- Legislative update from Garden State Equality on the NJ LGBTQ Older Adults bill
The LGBTQ Senior Housing & Care Expo is completely free and open to the public. Additionally, a networking lunch is provided to pre-registered participants!
This is just part of our work serving older adults in New Jersey—but it’s one of the most important events each year for us to bring together the community and service providers to build real, lasting change. You won’t want to miss it.
If you want to know more, feel free to reach out. I hope to see you next month.
Health & Wellness Coordinator
Garden State Equality
One of Garden State Equality’s most exciting programs that’s truly changing the culture and climate of our schools for LGBTQ people is Educators for Equality.
We started Educators for Equality last year after one of our supporters, Dr. Lori Burns, researched the experiences of New Jersey LGBTQ educators and shockingly discovered teachers experienced bullying and harassment at rates similar to students themselves. In response, we brought together a small group of educators to work on building LGBTQ-affirming environments in schools not just for students but for educators and faculty as well.
Today, I’m proud to say Educators for Equality has over two-hundred members from across New Jersey who are working to build safe and inclusive schools, and I want to invite you to be a part of this growing community of LGBTQ educators and allies!
Educators for Equality Networking Event
Friday, May 3, 2019
6:00 - 9:00 PM
The Asbury Hotel
210 5th Avenue
Asbury Park, NJ 07712
This will be an incredible opportunity to connect with educators from across the state—especially as we prepare to implement New Jersey’s historic LGBTQ-Inclusive Curriculum law.
We’ll also have guest speakers including Jan Moore and Emily Sonnessa from the awarding-winning film "Love Wins," who will share their coming out story and discuss the importance of teaching LGBTQ history.
Thank you to the NJEA Early Career Network, Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders, and Salt Hotels for sponsoring this event.
I look forward to seeing you next Friday in Asbury Park!
Safe Schools Coordinator
Garden State Equality
Yesterday, we were relieved to learn the U.S. Supreme Court tretdeclined to hear a challenge to overturn New Jersey’s ban on gay and transgender conversion therapy.
But just as we feared, the so-called “family values” hate group Liberty Counsel has announced their plans to refile the case—threatening to overturn New Jersey’s ban and numerous others across the nation.
With Trump stacking not only the Supreme Court but the entire U.S. judicial system with radical anti-LGBTQ judges, there’s no telling what will happen when our case gets in front of them again. We’ve already seen this Court strike down critical civil rights protections while affirming the Trump-Pence administration’s anti-LGBTQ agenda, including the discriminatory trans military ban.
We simply cannot let New Jersey’s ban on gay and trans conversion therapy be overturned.
Liberty Counsel has been fighting this ban since we first passed it in 2013. They’ve got deep pockets and are supported by a network of hundreds of volunteer lawyers across the nation. They’re not going to give up. Here’s what they said yesterday:
“[Liberty Counsel] will refile this case in New Jersey and soon get one of the cases before the Supreme Court. It is not a question of if, but when, the Supreme Court will take one of these cases… The fundamental rights of counselors and clients to exercise their right to speak in private counseling sessions must be protected."
It’s horrifying that this bigoted hate group is so relentless in arguing for a constitutional right to irreparably abuse children and young adults—and under the guise of supposed “free speech” and “religious freedom,” no less.
Every sensible, compassionate person across New Jersey and this country knows: conversion therapy is dangerous, discredited malpractice. It is nothing short of child abuse. Gay and transgender children across the country are depending on us right now, and make no mistake, Garden State Equality will fight this every step of the way.
There’s more to come, but rest assured, we’re going to fight this with everything we’ve got.
Garden State Equality
PS - This is going to be a long and expensive battle, so no matter what you can give, please chip in. Every dollar is going to count in this fight. Please, click here to help out.
Today, the Supreme Court of the United States declined to hear King v. Murphy, a challenge against New Jersey’s ban on gay and transgender conversion therapy for minors. Garden State Equality was named in the suit as a respondent.
The Supreme Court’s decision to deny a hearing ensures New Jersey’s law remains in effect and protects bans in fifteen other states across the country, as well as Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico.
“In rejecting this case today, the Supreme Court recognized what every sensible and compassionate person across New Jersey and this country knows: anti-LGBTQ conversion therapy is dangerous, discredited malpractice. It is nothing short of child abuse, and there is no legal argument to defend this horrible practice," said Garden State Equality executive director Christian Fuscarino. “It’s alarming that this bigotry-driven and legally-hollow case even got to the Justices for consideration, and this is a stark reminder that the rights of LGBTQ people—even here in New Jersey—are constantly under attack.”
Earlier this year, Garden State Equality organized a legal strike team of prominent lawyers, including Garden State Equality board member Thomas Prol, to assist in defending the ban. David Flugman of Selendy & Gay led the litigation effort for Garden State Equality with support from GluckWalrath.
The legal challenge was brought by the anti-LGBTQ group Liberty Counsel, which was designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Liberty Counsel is based in Florida.
“The science is clear that conversion therapy is dangerous and doesn’t work, yet a few outliers insist on fighting for a constitutional right to irreparably abuse children and young adults,” said Thomas Prol, who is a Garden State Equality board member and part of the litigation team. “This is the same group that proudly declares ‘homosexuality is wrong and unnatural’ while trying to hide their hate behind the guise of ‘religious liberty.’ Fortunately, that doesn’t hold up in court, and we’re relieved the Supreme Court agrees.”
The ban was signed into law in August 2013 by former Governor Chris Christie, a Republican, after being approved by both houses of the state legislature with a veto-proof supermajority. New Jersey was the second state in the nation to pass a ban on conversion therapy for minors. Today, sixteen states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico ban the practice. Legislation is pending in eighteen additional states. Most recently, Colorado’s legislature passed a ban and is imminently awaiting the governor’s signature.
In a signing statement, Governor Christie cited the American Psychological Association’s conclusion that conversion therapy poses “critical health risks” such as depression, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts while lacking “clear evidence” of any benefits.
In addition to the American Psychological Association, every other major professional medical and mental health organization has rejected conversion therapy as ineffective, unethical and dangerous, including the World Psychiatric Association, National Association of Social Workers, American School Health Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Medical Association, American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry, et al.
The decision to deny a writ of certiorari to Liberty Counsel was made behind closed doors during the U.S. Supreme Court’s conference. A longstanding informal rule requires that a minimum of four Justices must vote to grant cert and hear a case.
My name is Valerie. I’m 16 years old, and I’m transgender.
While I was building up the courage to come out to my family and friends two years ago, my world was pulled out from under me.
A dream of mine had been crushed: I woke up and Trump had announced that transgender people would be banned from serving in the military.
See, I always hoped of growing up and serving in the military... just like my family had done for years before. I wanted to be a nurse in the Marines. I wanted to give back to the country that had given so much to me. A country that allows me to be out and proud. A country that, until two years ago, said I could serve in one of the most important ways: military service.
Today’s an especially hard day for me, because today, President Trump’s ban on transgender military service is actually going into effect.
Anyone currently serving who comes out as transgender will be discharged and removed, and there’s almost 15,000 transgender people serving right now that are at risk. It also means that from today on, no transgender person like myself who wants to step up and serve will be allowed to enlist.
That’s simply not the America I believe in.
There are places around the world where queer people like me could be killed just for being who they are. This ban only brings our country backwards with no purpose but to erase transgender Americans.
Fortunately, I still have my voice. So, I may not be allowed to serve, but I will continue using my freedom to speak out for what is right. I hope you’ll stand with me.
Please, click here to sign the petition: www.GardenStateEquality.org/transtroops
Thank you for listening,
PS: If you’d like to learn more about my story, read this article from NorthJersey.com!
Today, we celebrate International Transgender Day of Visibility 2019! It’s a day when we recognize and honor transgender people who’ve had the courage and bravery to come out and live openly and honestly. It’s a moment when we can recommit ourselves to the work still to be done so that those ahead of us can live in a better world.
And while today is a special day, I want you to know that everyone at Garden State Equality is working every single day of every year to lift up and protect transgender New Jerseyans.
In the last year alone, Garden State Equality has passed several critical protections:
We passed the the Babs Siperstein Law, which allows transgender New Jerseyans to update their birth certificate gender marker without burdensome or invasive medical restrictions. It also establishes a new third gender marker status for non-binary people. The NJ MVC will be rolling out changes for driver’s licenses later this year. We also secured gender identity death certificate equality to ensure dignity for transgender people at the end of their life as well.
- We established the first-in-the-nation Interagency Transgender Task Force, bringing together state agencies and several community organizations to identify and assess societal and legal barriers facing transgender people and to prescribe legislative and other solutions. Later this week, we will announce a series of public hearings where you can share your experiences and help the Task Force focus its efforts.
- In partnership with other non-profits, we passed the second-in-the-nation LGBTQ-Inclusive Curriculum Law, which will bring transgender representation into the classroom and ensure our youth learn about the life and legacy of people like New Jersey’s transgender trailblazer Babs Siperstein.
Additionally, with our programmatic work, we’re building safer schools in communities across the state by assisting local school boards in implementing NJ Department of Education guidelines for transgender students to ensure a safe and affirming environment.
Moreover, we are partnering with healthcare providers, hospitals, and insurance companies to develop transgender-inclusive services and ensure no transgender New Jerseyan is denied transition-related care.
Here are some quick actions you can take right now to support transgender New Jerseyans:
Share our Transgender Day of Visibility post on Facebook or Twitter to show your support! Use the hashtag #TDOV to spread your message.
Contribute to Garden State Equality so that we can continue running our critical programs and keep passing laws that protect transgender New Jerseyans.
- Sign up to volunteer and be a part of our grassroots team that’s making change.
Our community is incredibly diverse, and I’m so proud to be a part of it. Your support is what allows us to do this important work every day. So, thank you for being a part of this movement alongside me—and for everything you do to support transgender New Jerseyans.
Director of Policy
Garden State Equality
- We passed the the Babs Siperstein Law, which allows transgender New Jerseyans to update their birth certificate gender marker without burdensome or invasive medical restrictions. It also establishes a new third gender marker status for non-binary people. The NJ MVC will be rolling out changes for driver’s licenses later this year. We also secured gender identity death certificate equality to ensure dignity for transgender people at the end of their life as well.
New Jersey’s Babs Siperstein Law will ensure non-binary New Jerseyans can fly with matching gender identity
NEWARK, NJ - Today, United Airlines—New Jersey’s largest airline provider—announced it was the first U.S. airline to allow customers to select a non-binary gender option when booking flights and travel. United Airlines accounts for roughly two-thirds of all passengers at Newark Liberty International Airport.
“Airports are already stressful enough without having to worry if your boarding pass matches your gender identity, and United’s new policy is an important step forward to ensure all of their customers are treated with dignity and respect,” said Christian Fuscarino, executive director for Garden State Equality. “United is a central piece of Newark’s airport that millions of people in our state rely on every year, and inclusive policies that respect LGBTQ people and non-binary individuals will only serve to make our state more equal, more fair, and more competitive.”
The Babs Siperstein Law, which went into effect on February 1, created a new undesignated gender status in New Jersey for non-binary individuals. Presently, New Jerseyans can update their birth certificates, and the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) is currently updating its policies to allow New Jerseyans to update their gender marker on their driver’s licenses as well. A rollout of MVC’s new policy is expected in the coming months.
Last month, the trade group Airlines for America (A4A) announced plans for individual airlines to implement the non-binary gender option before June 1, 2019. United Airlines is a member of A4A along with Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue, and Southwest.
While flying United Airlines, customers now have the ability to identify themselves as M (male), F (female), U (undisclosed) or X (unspecified), corresponding with what is indicated on their passports or identification. Customers will also have the option to select the honorific title "Mx." during booking.
At present, the U.S. federal government only has “male” and “female” options on federally issued identity documents, including passports. With an undesignated “X” marker on a New Jersey birth certificate, New Jerseyans would still be able to get a passport but would still need to select “male” or “female” on that form.
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