Governor Murphy orders New Jersey Army National Guard to Defy Trump’s Ban on Transgender Military Service Members
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
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.