Bill protecting same-sex marriage gains bipartisan support in U.S. Senate

Marjorie Taylor Greene leads GOP drive to criminalize gender-affirming care for transgender youth

U.S. Senate delays same-sex marriage vote until after midterm elections

State treasurer will comply with court order on health coverage for transgender people

State Treasurer Dale Folwell says he will comply with a federal court’s order to stop an exclusion against treatment for transgender people covered by the state health plan.

“I strongly respect the rule of law,” Folwell said in a statement Wednesday. “So, until it is no longer in force, I must comply with the court’s order.”

Earlier this month, a federal judge in Winston-Salem a federal judge ruled in favor of plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s exclusion of gender-affirming health care for transgender state employee under the state health plan.

Policy Watch reported extensively on the suit and related issues when the suit was filed in 2019.

“We obviously disagree with the judge’s order that is, in essence, assuming responsibility for determining plan benefits for sex transition operations. We’re also disappointed the court decided to stop the case from being heard by a jury of North Carolinians,” Folwell said. “However, I’ve always said that if the legislature or the courts tell me we have to provide for sex transition operations and treatments, I would.”

Folwell, a conservative Republican and former state lawmaker, is chairman of the board by virtue of his office. Gov. Cooper’s state budget director, Charlie Perusse, is also an ex officio member. The other members are all appointed by Folwell or the General Assembly, whose GOP majority continues to contend that transgender identity does not exist, but is the result of improperly treated mental illness.

Treasurer Dale Folwell

That position is at odds with the view of the mainstream medical community, from the doctors who actually work with transgender patients to the American Medical Association and American Psychiatric Association. The APA recognizes gender dysphoria not as a mental illness but as “a conflict between a person’s physical or assigned gender and the gender with which he/she/they identify.”

More than 40 years of research into and treatment of transgender people experiencing dysphoria has led psychiatric and medical professionals to conclude the most effective course of treatment is gender transition — aligning one’s life socially and sometimes physically to better match their gender identity. Not all transgender people choose to medically transition, but for those for whom it is judged necessary, medical experts agree it can be life-saving.

That’s why Blue Cross/Blue Shield of North Carolina, which administers the State Employee Health Plan has, since 2011, recognized dysphoria as a serious medical issue and covered treatments related to transition, including hormone therapy and gender confirmation surgery. That’s in line with many private health plans, Medicare and the federal employee health plan.

The trustees of the state health plan voted to begin covering treatments for gender dysphoria at the end of 2016 in order to comply with federal anti-discrimination laws.

Folwell and the plan’s trustees allowed that coverage to expire at the first opportunity — not renewing it for the 2018 plan year and making no move to reinstate it since.

For years Folwell has characterized the treatment recommended by doctors for transgender patients as “elective, non-emergency procedures” and referred to the treatment as “sex change operations.” Read more

Garner becomes latest NC town to adopt LGBTQ-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance

The Garner Town Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to adopt Wake County’s LGBTQ-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance, joining dozens of communities around the state in broadening protections from discrimination.

According to a resolution and inter-local agreement, Wake County will enforce the ordinance within the town The ordinance, which does not apply to religious organizations prohibits discrimination on the basis of “race, natural hair or hairstyles, ethnicity, creed, color, sex, pregnancy, marital or familial status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin or ancestry, National Guard or veteran status, religious belief or non-belief, age, and disability.”

Garner is the seventh community within Wake County to adopt its own non-discrimination ordinance or sign on to the county’s. The others are: Apex, Cary, Knightdale, Morrisville, Raleigh and Wendell.

In April leaders from across the county gathered at Campbell University’s School of Law to celebrate the wave of new ordinances.Campbell’s law school has taken the lead in helping resolve complaints filed through the ordinance process.

As Policy Watch has reported, the new ordinances became possible when a state ban on new local protections — including nondiscrimination ordinances for employment and housing — was lifted. The ban was a legacy of the  brutal fight over HB 2 and HB 142, the controversial laws that excluded lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from statewide nondiscrimination protections.

This year the LGBTQ people nationwide have seen been targeted by an unprecedented number of hostile bills in state legislatures. Though LGBTQ North Carolinians saw important legal victories last month, they have also been targeted by state legislation casting them as dangerous or mentally ill and been the focus of campaigns and protests fro local GOP officials. The ongoing political campaign was given a spot light late last month when masked right-wing protesters attempted to shut down drag queen story time events at libraries and private businesses.