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
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.
The Equality Act Re-introduced Today With Unanimous Support From New Jersey’s Democratic Congressional Delegation
Garden State Equality celebrates the re-introduction of federal legislation to protect LGBTQ Americans from discrimination with broad New Jersey support
Today, lawmakers in Washington, D.C. will re-introduce The Equality Act, which would provide explicit federal non-discrimination protections to LGBTQ Americans. The bill has unanimous support from New Jersey’s Democratic Congressional Delegation and is a top legislative priority for the pro-equality majority.
The Equality Act would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other related laws to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in areas of employment, housing, and public accommodations. The Equality Act was first introduced in 2015 and again in 2017. The Equality Act would also prohibit discrimination in credit, public education, federally-funded programs, and jury service.
“While LGBTQ New Jerseyans enjoy commonsense legal protections against discrimination, 44% of LGBTQ Americans still live in states where it is legal to fire, deny housing, or refuse service to someone simply because of who they are or who they love,” said Christian Fuscarino, executive director of Garden State Equality. “It is critical that we pass The Equality Act in Congress this session to ensure equality under the law truly means equality for all, and I am proud that New Jersey’s congressional delegation is leading the way in championing civil rights for LGBTQ Americans across the nation.”
U.S. Senator Cory Booker is a primary sponsor of the bill, with the entire Democratic Congressional Delegation joining as co-sponsors.
“We must end discrimination in all forms, and I’ll fight until we achieve full equality for all Americans, including members of our LGBTQ communities,” said Congressman Donald Norcross (NJ-01). “Every American should have a legal option when discrimination or harassment occurs – and no one should be forced to live in fear. Diversity is America’s strength and compassion is our value; the Equality Act is a clear necessity, since it would once and for all, under law, protect millions of Americans.”
“No American should be discriminated against, fired, denied housing or refused service simply because of who they are. These lack of protections for the LGBTQ community are simply un-American and do not reflect the values of our country and our communities,” said Representative Andy Kim (NJ-03). “I am proud to co-sponsor and will be proud to vote for H.R. 5, and call on my colleagues in the House and Senate to join me in supporting this important effort to expand human rights for all Americans.”
“Who you love shouldn’t determine if you get a bank loan, a job, or an education,” said Representative Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11). “Though New Jersey is a leader when it comes to equal treatment for our LGBTQ community, the fact remains that across the country it is still legal to discriminate against LGBTQ Americans in employment, housing, and education. I’m proud to co-sponsor the Equality Act and lead this fight for fairness.”
“I am proud that New Jersey provides legal protections for our LGBTQ friends and colleagues, but in 30 states, LGBTQ people are at risk of being fired, refused housing or denied services because of who they are,” said Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), the author of the Customer Non-Discrimination Act which is among the provisions included in the Equality Act. “The Equality Act would change that, ensuring that no one can discriminate against LGBTQ Americans anywhere, period. This is another example of the real work that we’re doing under Democratic leadership to uphold American values like fairness and the protection of human rights, values I have always and will always fight for. I look forward to working with my colleagues to finally pass this comprehensive bill.”
“No one should ever be discriminated against, live in fear of being fired, or be denied equal basic protections under the law because of who they love,” said Representative Frank Pallone (NJ-06). “As a longtime advocate for LGBTQ equality, I am proud to help lead the fight to rid our country of this unacceptable discrimination. The Equality Act would ensure that all Americans, regardless of gender and sexual orientation, who only want to have the opportunity to work hard and earn a living, can continue to do so free from fear of discrimination.”
"All Americans, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, must be treated equally under the law," said Representative Jefferson Van Drew (NJ-02). "While legal protections for LGBTQ people in New Jersey were put in place in the nineties, the fact is that many states do not have laws in place to protect them from discrimination in employment, housing, & other core areas of life. Fairness and equality are core American values and it is time we finally fully end discrimination against LGBTQ Americans."
An August 2018 poll by PRRI showed that that 71% of Americans support nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people.
New Jersey’s nondiscrimination laws were amended in 1991 to include sexual orientation and again in 2006 to include gender identity, but a patchwork of laws across the country means 44% of the American LGBTQ population have no statewide protections from discrimination:
- 28 states lack any nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people.
- 20 states and the District of Columbia protect LGBTQ people with nondiscrimination laws covering employment, housing, and public accommodations.
- Utah provides LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections for housing and employment but not for public accommodations.
- Wisconsin provides nondiscrimination protections for employment, housing, and public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation but not gender identity.
I am livid.
Donald Trump’s administration just announced its plans to begin DISCHARGING over 13,700 active transgender troops and DENY ENLISTMENT to anyone who refuses to serve in their gender "assigned at birth."
The Trump administration’s order says discharges will begin in just thirty days on April 12. There’s no time to waste. We have to stand up and make our voices heard right now.
My husband is a Marine, and he’ll tell you he doesn't care who is next to him as long as they know how to shoot an M16 A4 service rifle. This ban is nothing more than a discriminatory and mean-spirited attack on transgender Americans—no better or worse than Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
Military chiefs even testified in front of Congress that "they had seen no discipline, morale, or unit readiness problems with transgender troops serving openly in the military." But Donald Trump is barreling forward with his ban without regard to the facts.
Donald Trump isn’t going to stop attacking LGBTQ Americans—and we’re never going to stop fighting back.
Thanks for standing with us. We can't do this work without you.
Garden State Equality
It’s time again for our supporters, community partners, advocates, and lawmakers alike to come together in Asbury Park and celebrate Garden State Equality’s historic work at the annual Equality Ball!
Please join us on May 31, 2019 at the Asbury Lanes for our third annual Equality Ball—our premier event and largest annual fundraiser!
Every day, our team is busy advocating for the LGBTQ community in our state and developing programs that will serve as models for other states, agencies, and organizations.
Because of your support each year at the Equality Ball, Garden State Equality is able to continue this remarkable and important work.
In a post-marriage world where many LGBTQ orgs are shrinking or shutting down, Garden State Equality is thriving as a national leader. We're doing innovative programmatic work to make our schools safer, expand access and quality of healthcare, and meet the needs of LGBTQ older adults. Plus, we're still passing transformative laws that reach and protect all New Jerseyans—including the second-in-the-nation LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum law and the historic Babs Siperstein Law.
We look forward to seeing you again this year for another incredible event!
As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, a so-called “family values” hate group is taking Garden State Equality to the U.S. Supreme Court to challenge New Jersey’s ban on gay and trans conversion therapy, which we passed in 2013.
Liberty Counsel—designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center—has an army of three hundred volunteer lawyers across the country, and they’ve been attacking LGBTQ people relentlessly since they formed in 1989. Now, they have their sights set on New Jersey. This is the same group that proudly declares that "homosexuality is wrong and unnatural" while trying to hide their hate behind the guise of "religious liberty.”
Believe me, this is going to be a tough fight. I was the first openly gay state bar president in New Jersey history. I am admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court Bar, and I’ve submitted briefs and stood before the Court. Above all else, I’m most proud for pushing litigation in the historic Garden State Equality v. Dow case, which delivered marriage equality to New Jersey.
Alongside me, we’ve assembled a strike team of prominent lawyers to repel this attack on our community. David Flugman of Selendy & Gay and Michael Gluck of GluckWalrath are leading the litigation at the Supreme Court for Garden State Equality, and I am joined by my fellow board member Robyn Gigl in coordinating a rapid legal response.
We need to mount the best fight possible here. We simply cannot leave anything up to chance.
If the Supreme Court decides to hear this case, statewide bans on conversion therapy could be repealed across the country—endangering hundreds of thousands of children. It would be a disaster for the LGBTQ community.
The current administration is rolling back rights across the board, and Liberty Counsel is emboldened. Make no mistake, Garden State Equality is rising to fight this attack head-on.
Conversion therapy is child abuse, plain and simple. It inflicts a grievous harm on LGBTQ kids and young adults. It has a dangerous and destructive effect on their minds and hearts. The medical community has resoundingly rejected conversion therapy, with the American Psychiatric Association on record for over two decades opposing it, going so far as to say it causes "a significant risk of harm" and "undermines self-esteem.”
The science is clear, yet a few outliers insist on fighting for a constitutional right to irreparably abuse children and young adults.
I'm heading back to work now. Thanks for reading—and for everything you do to protect equality.
Thomas H. Prol, Esq.
Garden State Equality
The anti-LGBTQ hate group Liberty Counsel just filed with the Supreme Court of the United States to overturn New Jersey's ban on gay and trans conversion therapy—and they’ve named Garden State Equality in their suit.
If these radicals win at the Supreme Court, Trump’s justices could overturn New Jersey’s conversion therapy ban—and legalize this abusive practice across the country.
You know as well as I do just how destructive this discredited practice is. LGBTQ conversion therapy is child abuse, plain and simple, which is why every major medical and psychiatric association has universally rejected it as dangerous pseudoscience.
We need your help: Click here to donate now
Banning conversion therapy is settled science—and settled law. With your help, we can defeat this bigoted attack at the Supreme Court and protect children across New Jersey and the nation from this dangerous abuse.
Every dollar counts in this fight. No matter what you can give, chip in here.
Thanks for all you do.