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Obama edging closer to marriage endorsement: source

President reportedly wants to unveil another pro-LGBT initiative

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Barack and Michlle Obama, gay news, gay politics dc

"And let us not forget what their decisions — the impact those decisions will have on our lives for decades to come -– on our privacy and security, on whether we can speak freely, worship openly, and, yes, love whomever we choose," Michelle Obama said, indicating to many LGBT advocates that the administration's "evolution" on same-sex marriage may be in its final stage. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The odds are improving that President Obama will endorse marriage equality before the November election, according to an informed source.

The chances that Obama will make such an announcement before the election are looking better than in previous months as the issue receives growing media attention and voters in a handful of states face ballot initiatives this year.

An informed source, who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity, said “active conversations” are taking place between the White House and the campaign about whether Obama should complete his evolution on marriage and that the chances of him making an announcement are about 50-50.

According to the source, the administration would like to unveil another major pro-LGBT initiative before the November election, and an endorsement of marriage equality could fit the bill. But concerns persist on how an endorsement of same-sex marriage would play in four or five battleground states.

“We’re talking about the Michigans, the Ohios, the Illinois of the world; the real battleground states in which voters are already conflicted and may factor this into their judgment,” the source said.

Moreover, the administration may only want to expend political capital on one measure. It could come down to a choice between an endorsement of marriage equality and something else, such as the executive order requiring federal contractors to have LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination policies.

“My feeling is you’ll get one, you won’t get both before Election Day,” the source said. “There is a great timidity in terms of their dealing with the gays, right? In many ways, they kind of consider our issues to be the third rail.”

Supporters of an Obama endorsement were encouraged on Monday when first lady Michelle Obama suggested during a fundraiser in New York that the president would appoint justices to the Supreme Court who would support marriage equality.

“And let us not forget what their decisions — the impact those decisions will have on our lives for decades to come -– on our privacy and security, on whether we can speak freely, worship openly, and, yes, love whomever we choose,” Michelle Obama said.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney later disputed the notion that those remarks were related to marriage equality and said they were in reference to the president’s position against the Defense of Marriage Act.

“I think, as folks who regularly report on the first lady’s speeches, they’ll know that she has said this before and has for some time, and that is a reference to the president’s position on the Defense of Marriage Act,” Carney said. “The president and first lady firmly believe that gay and lesbian Americans and their families deserve legal protections and the ability to thrive, just like any family does.”

Carney has been asked repeatedly about President Obama’s stance on marriage equality since the president first said he could “evolve” on the issue in response to a question from AMERICAblog’s Joe Sudbay during an interview with progressive bloggers 17 months ago, but the White House hasn’t given any updates.

Shin Inouye, a White House spokesperson, echoed Carney when asked about Obama’s evolving position on same-sex marriage for this article.

“I don’t have any updates for you on that point,” Inouye said. “The president has long believed that gay and lesbian couples deserve the same rights and legal protections as straight couples, including the ability to take care of their families. That’s why he supports the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, and has determined that Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional and that his administration would no longer defend it in the courts.”

But some advocates are pushing Obama to come out for marriage equality before the election. From a political standpoint, they say Obama has much to gain by coming out for marriage because it would energize the Democratic Party’s progressive base. They say he has little to lose because those who would vote against Obama for supporting same-sex marriage would vote against him anyway.

John Aravosis, editor of AMERICAblog, said an endorsement from Obama of marriage equality would better distinguish him from the Republican presidential candidates, who oppose same-sex marriage.

“It never hurts them with progressives to remind them that Obama is better than Romney on a lot of our issues,” Aravosis said.

Aravosis added that if advocates are successful in their push for including an endorsement of same-sex marriage in the Democratic Party platform when the platform committee convenes in September, the result could create a thorny issue for the president just before Election Day.

“We wouldn’t be having the debate on the Democratic platform and marriage if the president was OK on marriage,” Aravosis said. “Does the president really need marriage to come up as an issue eight weeks before the election? Coming up as a divide between him and the community? I don’t think it helps.”

Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, said that coming out for marriage equality would benefit Obama and added that voters won’t be turned off by it because the act would build off his existing support for LGBT rights.

“He’s done many important things in support of gay people’s participating and protection in society, including advancing the marriage cause,” Wolfson said. “He has come out strongly and repeatedly against measures aimed at taking away the freedom to marry, or adding additional layers of discrimination as in state attack measures.”

Further, advocates say Obama is giving cover to Republicans who say their position on marriage is the same as the president’s even though they may hold wildly different views on related issues. Rick Santorum has made that point, even though he was an author of the Federal Marriage Amendment, as has New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie after he vetoed the marriage equality bill in his state.

Sarah Palin expressed the same sentiment via Twitter earlier in the campaign season when Republicans like Santorum were under attack for their position.

“What’s radical & intolerant about Santorum/Romney/Gingrich et al’s position on the definition of marriage?” she said. “It’s the same position as Obama’s.”

Obama is also facing calls to oppose state measures aimed at banning or overturning marriage equality. Voters in a handful of states are expected to face such measures, including in Minnesota, North Carolina,Washington State and Maryland. Meanwhile, voters in Maine will decide whether to legalize marriage at the ballot.

Last week, Cameron French, the North Carolina press secretary for Obama for America, issued a statement to the Raleigh-based News & Observer saying the president “does not support” the anti-gay marriage initiative that will come before voters on May 8 during the state’s primary.

“While the president does not weigh in on every single ballot measure in every state, the record is clear that the president has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same-sex couples,” French said. “That’s what the North Carolina ballot initiative would do — it would single out and discriminate against committed gay and lesbian couples — and that’s why the president does not support it.”

The statement is the strongest that either the White House or the Obama campaign has issued on an anti-gay marriage state ballot initiative. Similar past statements never mentioned the state where a particular ballot initiative was taking place. The White House has repeatedly said the president opposes “divisive and discriminatory efforts” aimed at same-sex couples.

Wolfson said Obama’s lack of support for same-sex marriage allows the anti-gay side in these ballot fights to use the president to advocate for their side, even if the president has denounced the measure.

“Because there’s this one remaining failure to make the case clearly on his part, it allows the opposition to obscure and mislead and hurt us and hurt the president,” Wolfson said.

Nonetheless, some LGBT advocates working in these states say President Obama’s support isn’t necessarily what will decide the issue for voters.

Matt McTighe, director of public education for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders in Maine and executive board member of the Maine Freedom to Marry Coalition, said efforts in his state are more locally based.

“The more people who come to understand that allowing marriage licenses for all loving, committed couples can benefit all families, the better,” McTighe said. “But it’s not President Obama’s change of heart that will decide the issue here. It’s the voters of Maine.”

Jeremy Kennedy, campaign manager for Protect All NC Families, said he thinks the statement from the campaign was sufficient and doesn’t see a lot of value in Obama coming out for same-sex marriage.

“I think what the president said on Friday specifically on North Carolina was probably more helpful than coming out for same-sex marriage would be for us because this isn’t a same-sex marriage fight here,” Kennedy said. “Regardless of whether this amendment passes or fails, it’s not going to change the state of marriage in North Carolina.”

Kennedy said much of the debate in North Carolina is focused on domestic partnership benefits that will be lost if the amendment passes — including the seven localities that already offer partner benefits to employees.

But national advocates continue to press for an endorsement of marriage equality from the president in addition to seeking his help in defeating anti-gay marriage initiatives at the ballot.

Wolfson said it’s time for Obama to come out for marriage equality regardless of the political fallout that may ensue.

“Americans want their president to show moral leadership and stand up when the freedoms and rights of Americans are at stake,” Wolfson said.

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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. ATLJono

    March 22, 2012 at 11:23 am

    Illinois is a battleground state? (even though they haven’t voted for a Republican president since 1988 and it’s the president’s home state)
    Gays are the third rail for the WH? (even though DADT repeal is always on the list of signature accomplishments the WH spouts)
    This anonymous source seems to be far from “informed”. Let me know when there’s actual news to report.

  2. Rebecca Juro

    March 22, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    If Obama is serious about a jobs and economic agenda then he should sign the executive order first. The reasoning is simple: If we can’t count on him to do what he can to protect LGBT workers with nothing more than the stroke of his pen, how can we depend on him to fight for the bigger stuff like ENDA and DOMA repeal? The reality is that DOMA is expected to be repealed through the courts while workplace rights must come through executive order and approval of Congress.

    Add to that the fact that workplace rights enjoy far greater support overall (a new study reveals that 93% of Catholics support transgender equal rights, far higher than support for same-sex unions), and he could take a major positive step for LGBT workers without risking the kind of religious backlash that
    would come with supporting same-sex marriage.

    If Obama wants to be taken seriously on LGBT rights by the bulk of our community and our friends, families, and allies, the first thing he should do is protect our right to work and provide for our families. To come out for marriage first, he’ll be making clear that what he cares about most are not the most genuinely needy LGBT Americans, but rather those with the deepest pockets.

    • Watcher

      March 23, 2012 at 4:22 pm

      While I want the President to support marriage rights, I have to agree that employment protection is both more important and more politically feasible.

  3. Skeptical Cicada

    March 22, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Summary of Rebecca Juro’s comment:

    The trans community wants the nondiscrimination order, so it should be put ahead of marriage equality.

    Rebecca, do you think we’re too stupid to see through your transparent effort to articulate a neutral reason for privileging what you want privileged?

    • Watcher

      March 23, 2012 at 4:25 pm

      I can’t speak for Rebecca, but pushing for ENDA and extending job protections to government contractors would impact more people than marriage—we all need to work.

    • Rebecca Juro

      March 23, 2012 at 5:08 pm

      Your comment only makes sense if you completely discount the civil rights of gay and lesbian workers are also denied basic civil rights in the workplace in 29 states along with trans people who are denied them in 34.

      I guess it must be pretty dark and lonely when you’re entrenched that deep inside inside the Beltway bubble, huh?

  4. toby brown

    March 22, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    Dear Washington would like some feedback on what ya think of old Sgt Brown before I move on to another place in the universe I do not understand why on this awesome planet we can not all get along it is a awesome place The USMC taught me well maybe everyone should of had the same Drill Instructors I did and Learn what it is all about.Plus I worked for the Army for over 25 years they also taught me well and I flew with the Air Force being in the Air Wing and the Navy took me where I needed to go and signed my pay checks and the Coast Guard has protected our coast and we are all Americans who see to not be able to get along let each other be free and help out those in need Have a great day all of you at the Washington post most of you get it

  5. wilypagan

    March 26, 2012 at 9:45 am

    Since Prop 8 was passed with the help of Obama’s followers, he owes it to the gay community to lead on correcting this issue. If he does not, wexmight as well vote for Romney, as he will flip back to moderate after the primary.

    • Dani3l

      April 25, 2012 at 7:31 pm

      Prop 8 was -opposed- by Obama supporters, backed by the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) and recived financial backing from Mitt Romney personally. Quit lying. Fact is, Obama has already done more for LGBT causes than any other President in history. I want him to back marriage equality, too, but he is far and away preferable to the opposition even holding himself back in “strong civil unions” territory – which is far as any Democratic presidential candidate has ever committed. It was Hillary’s stance. It is not Mitt’s.

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Texas

Texas House approves anti-trans youth sports bill

HB 25 now heads to state Senate

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GenderCool Project leader and Trans activist Landon Richie (Photo courtesy of Landon Richie)

Texas House Republicans were able to push through the anti-trans youth sports measure Thursday evening after hours of emotional and at times rancorous debate, passing the bill in a 76-54 vote along party lines.

Under the provisions of Texas House Bill 25, all trans student athletes in grades K-12 will be prohibited from competing on sports teams aligned with their gender identity. The bill will now head to the Senate, where it is expected to pass.

The Texas Tribune reported that the University Interscholastic League, which governs school sports in Texas, already requires that an athlete’s gender be determined by the sex listed on their birth certificate. Republican Rep. Valoree Swanson, R-Spring, the author of HB 25 has said the bill would simply “codify” existing UIL rules.

However, UIL recognizes any legally modified birth certificates. That policy could accommodate someone who may have had their birth certificate changed to match their gender identity, which can sometimes be an arduous process.

HB 25 would not allow recognition of these legally modified birth certificates unless changes were made because of a clerical error. It’s not clear though how it will be determined if a birth certificate has been legally modified or not. According to the UIL, the process for checking student birth certificates is left up to schools and districts, not the UIL the Tribune reported.

“To say that tonight’s passage of HB 25 is devastating is an understatement. For the past 10 grueling, exhausting, and deeply traumatic months, trans youth have been forced to debate their very existence—only to be met by the deaf ears and averted eyes of our state’s leaders,” Landon Richie, a GenderCool Project leader, University of Houston student and Transactivist told the Washington Blade after the vote.

“Make no mistake: This bill will not only have detrimental impacts on trans youth, who already suffer immense levels of harassment and bullying in schools, but also on cisgender youth who don’t conform to Texas’s idea of ‘male’ or ‘female.’ To trans kids everywhere: you belong, you are loved, you are valued, you are deserving of dignity, respect, care and the ability to live freely as your true and authentic selves, no matter where you are. We will never stop fighting for trans lives and a future where trans kids are unequivocally and unwaveringly celebrated for who they are,” Richie said.

“The cruelty of this bill is breathtaking, and the legislators who are pushing it forward are doing irreparable harm to our state. Texas is a place where people value freedom and respect for diversity. This bill is a betrayal of those cherished values, and future generations will look back on this moment in disbelief that elected officials supported such an absurd and hateful measure,” Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights told the Blade. “The families of these kids deserve better, and the burden is now on the rest of us to do everything in our power to stop this dangerous bill now,” he added.

During the debate on the measure, state Rep. James Talarico, (D-Round Rock), a former middle school teacher, began his remarks by apologizing to the trans kids and families who have gone to the Capitol time and time again this year. He tells the chamber he speaks now as a legislator, and educator, and a Christian.

He quoted Republican Rep. Valoree Swanson, R-Spring, the author of HB 25 who said “if one girl wins a game, it’s worth it.” He says he has a different moral yardstick. “If one trans kid dies for a trophy, this bill is grotesque.”

He ended speaking to his “fellow believers” in the chamber. “The worst part in these hearings have been in hearing the Bible used against trans kids to support these bills. Even tonight, ‘God’s law’ was used to present an amendment.” He then quoted the first two lines of the Bible, where God is referred to with two different Hebrew words, one masculine/one feminine. “God is non-binary.” He then prevented an interruption in the chamber and continued telling trans kids that he loves them.

Fellow Democratic state Rep. Jessica González, (D-Dallas County), vice-chair of the Texas House LGBTQ Caucus asked the chamber how many trans Texas kids they are willing to hurt. She reminded her fellow representatives that cisgender women and girls will also be hurt by the bill. She shared a personal story about being outed in high school by a friend, having her locker, home, and car vandalized and losing all of her friends. “Kids are cruel.”

González told lawmakers that her brother encouraged her to try out for soccer, and she was bullied with comments like “shouldn’t she be trying out for the boys’ team.” She went from feeling a bit accepted to being an outsider again. She then reflected on carrying those feelings into adulthood and said that this bill will have long-term affects on trans kids. She asked legislators to listen to the stories of the trans kids who have bravely testified, saying kids will contemplate suicide or complete suicide.

Representative Diego Bernal, (D-San Antonio), told the chamber that some representatives can’t wrap their heads around knowing that there is no problem but there is *real* harm to trans kids, and for whatever reason, that’s not enough it seems to stop moving these bills.

He said that he has heard “if they already have mental health issues and suicide ideation, this can’t make it worse” and “if the debate is harming them, let’s just vote.” The he breaks down the Texas statute’s definition of bullying, telling lawmakers, “The bullying statute doesn’t have an intent requirement. It doesn’t matter if you don’t mean to cause them harm. We are bullying these students. Know that by law … our own definitions and our own words, we are. And we don’t have to.”

“Texas lawmakers voted today to deliberately discriminate against transgender children. Excluding transgender students from participating in sports with their peers violates the Constitution and puts already vulnerable youth at serious risk of mental and emotional harm,” Adri Perez, policy and advocacy strategist at the ACLU of Texas said in a statement to the Blade.

“There is no evidence that transgender kids pose any threat. It is indefensible that legislators would force transgender youth and their families to travel to Austin to defend their own humanity, then blatantly ignore hours of testimony about the real damage this bill causes. Trans kids and their families deserve our love and support—they’ve been fighting this legislation for months. Texans will hold lawmakers accountable for their cruelty,” she added.

The statewide LGBTQ+ advocacy group Equality Texas in a tweet after the vote said; ” We will not stop fighting to protect transgender children.” Then added “We’ll continue to educate lawmakers—replacing misinformation with real stories—and demand the statewide and federal nondiscrimination protections we need to prevent further harms.”

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National

LGBTQ Youth web resource gone after Texas GOP candidate complained

Removal of the LGBTQ youth resource webpage appeared to be strictly political the Houston Chronicle reported

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Anti-LGBTQ Republican Don Huffines (Screenshot via Twitter)

AUSTIN – A late August video tweet from a wealthy Dallas-based real estate development company executive and conservative Republican gubernatorial challenger, blamed fellow Republican incumbent Texas Governor Greg Abbott for endorsing an LGBTQ+ agenda, because of the existence of a state online resource webpage for LGBTQ youth.

Within hours it was pulled down by the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services, (DFPS) the agency responsible for the page.

In an article published Tuesday, the Houston Chronicle reported that Don Huffines claimed tax dollars were being used to “advocate for transgender ideology.” Huffines also went on to say that DFPS was publishing “disturbing information about our youth.”

“They’re talking about helping empower and celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, ally, non-heterosexual behavior. I mean really? This is Texas. These are not Texas values. These are not Republican Party values, but these are obviously Greg Abbott’s values,” 

A message on the website states that the previous content is now under review.

According to the Chronicle, the website for the Texas Youth Connection, a division of Family and Protective Services that steers young people to various resources, including education, housing and those on its LGBTQ page as they prepare for life after foster care. It was replaced by a message that states, “The Texas Youth Connection website has been temporarily disabled for a comprehensive review of its content. This is being done to ensure that its information, resources, and referrals are current.”

LGBTQ+ activists and advocates are furious. Among the resources on the page for LGBTQ+ youth were critical information including for housing and information for suicide prevention and crisis assistance.

GenderCool Youth Leader, Trans rights activist and University of Houston student Landon Richie told the Blade Tuesday;

“This is deplorable. To Governor Abbott, LGBTQ+ youth are nothing more than pawns on a political chessboard. Despite his cries of protection and fairness in justification of this session’s unprecedented attacks on LGBTQ+ — especially trans — youth, it has never truly been about any of those things; it has always been about his power.

Now more than ever, LGBTQ+ youth deserve safety, protection, support, and affirmation from the state — this year alone, the Trevor Project received more than 10,800 crisis contacts from LGBTQ young people in Texas looking for support, as a result of this legislative session. LGBTQ+ youth deserve better than to be treated like they are as easily discardable as a webpage,” Richie said.

Shannon Minter, the Legal Director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights reacted telling the Blade in an emailed statement:

“Helping LGBTQ youth and their families prevent suicide is not a partisan issue, and any elected official who seeks to make it one has lost any sense of shame. This action by Governor Abbott is appalling and will needlessly harm vulnerable children and families who urgently need support.”

Removal of the page appeared to be strictly political the Chronicle reported.

Patrick Crimmins, the department spokesman, told the Chronicle that the review “is still ongoing” but declined to answer questions seeking more detail about why the website was removed or whether it had anything to do with Huffines.

But Family and Protective Services communications obtained through a public records request show that agency employees discussed removing the “Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation” page in response to Huffines’ tweet, shortly before taking it offline,” the paper wrote.

More telling was the events leading the page’s removal said the paper:

Thirteen minutes after Huffines’ video went up, media relations director Marissa Gonzales emailed a link to Crimmins, the agency’s communications director, under the subject line “Don Huffines video accusing Gov/DFPS of pushing liberal transgender agenda.”

FYI. This is starting to blow up on Twitter,” Gonzales wrote.

Crimmins then queried Darrell Azar, DFPS’ web and creative services director, about who oversees the page. “Darrell — please note we may need to take that page down, or somehow revise content,” he wrote.

Late Tuesday afternoon, the Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ youth weighed in on the Chronicle’s reporting in an emailed statement to the Blade.

LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in the child welfare system — and those who have been in foster care report significantly higher rates of attempting suicide. It is unconscionable that the Texas state government would actively remove vital suicide prevention resources from its website for the sole purpose of appeasing a rival politician. Mental health and suicide prevention are nonpartisan,” said Casey Pick, Senior Fellow for Advocacy and Government Affairs. “This story sends a terrible message to LGBTQ youth in Texas and will only contribute to the internalization of stigma and shame. We should be expanding access to support services for this group, not erasing what resources LGBTQ youth have to reach out for help.” 

The Chronicle reported that the deleted webpage also included links to the Texas chapters of PFLAG, a nationwide LGBTQ organization; a “national youth talk line” to discuss gender and sexual identity and various other issues; and LGBTQ legal services.

Huffines said the page also linked to a website operated by the Human Rights Campaign, a politically active LGBTQ advocacy group that he called “the Planned Parenthood of LGBT issues.”

Data on Texas:

  • Between January 1 and August 30, 2021, The Trevor Project received more than 10,800 crisis contacts (calls, texts, and chats) from LGBTQ young people in Texas looking for support. More than 3,900 of those crisis contacts (36%) came from transgender or nonbinary youth.
  • Crisis contacts from LGBTQ young people in Texas seeking support have grown over 150% when compared to the same time period in 2020.
  • While this volume of crisis contacts can not be attributed to any one factor (or bill), a qualitative analysis of the crisis contacts found that:
    • Transgender and nonbinary youth in Texas have directly stated that they are feeling stressed, using self-harm, and considering suicide due to anti-LGBTQ laws being debated in their state.
    • Some transgender and nonbinary youth have expressed fear over losing access to sports that provide important acceptance in their lives.

Additional Research: 

  • The Trevor Project estimates that more than 1.8 million LGBTQ youth (13-24) seriously consider suicide each year in the U.S. — and at least one attempts suicide every 45 seconds.
  • The Trevor Project’s 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health found that 42% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, with more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth having seriously considered. 

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Colorado first state to require transgender care as essential health benefit

Biden officials sign off on change for state insurers

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Colorado has become the first state to require transition-related care for transgender people as essential health coverage.

Colorado has become the first state in the country to include transition-related care for transgender people as part of the requirements for essential health care in the state, the Biden administration announced on Tuesday.

As part of the change, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services approved the state’s request to provide gender-affirming care in the individual and small group health insurance markets as part of Colorado’s Essential Health Benefit benchmark.

Secretary of Health & Human Services Xavier Becerra said in a statement the change is consistent with the Biden administration’s goal of eliminating barriers faced by transgender people in access in health care, including transition-related coverage.

“Health care should be in reach for everyone; by guaranteeing transgender individuals can access recommended care, we’re one step closer to making this a reality,” Becerra said in a statement. “I am proud to stand with Colorado to remove barriers that have historically made it difficult for transgender people to access health coverage and medical care.”

According to HHS, Colorado plan will require insurers to cover a wider range of services for transgender people in addition to benefits already covered, such as eye and lid modifications, face tightening, facial bone remodeling for facial feminization, breast/chest construction and reductions, and laser hair removal.

In addition to these changes, Colorado s also adding EHBs in the benchmark plan to include mental wellness exams and expanded coverage for 14 prescription drug classes, according to the HHS. These changes, per HHS, will take effect beginning on Jan. 1, 2023.

CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure said in a statement health care should be “accessible, affordable and delivered equitably to all, regardless of your sexual orientation” (notably leaving out gender identity from that quote).

“To truly break down barriers to care, we must expand access to the full scope of health care, including gender-affirming surgery and other treatments, for people who rely on coverage through Medicare, Medicaid & CHIP and the Marketplaces,” Brooks-LaSure said. “Colorado’s expansion of their essential health benefits to include gender-affirming surgery and other treatments is a model for other states to follow and we invite other states to follow suit.”

According to the Washington Post, Biden administration signed off on the change before officials made the announcement Tuesday in Denver in an event with Gov, Jared Polis, the first openly gay man elected governor in the United States.

Katie Keith, a lawyer and co-founder of Out2Enroll, is quoted in the Washington Post as saying despite the change significant issues remains for transgender people in health care.

“There’s been significant progress, but we’ve seen exclusions by some health plans — it got worse under the Trump administration — and that’s why it’s important to see states like Colorado stepping up to fill those gaps,” Keith is quoted as saying.

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