Lesbian Parents Sue N. Carolina to Update Birth Certificates

(AP) A same-sex couple is suing North Carolina to force officials to put both women's names on their children's birth certificates.

Melissa and Meredith Weiss filed a federal lawsuit Thursday saying their constitutional rights are being violated.

The lawsuit says Melissa Weiss gave birth to both children after they wed in Canada in 2003. They say North Carolina only put her name on the certificates and hasn't added Meredith Weiss. The lawsuit says same-sex spouses who had children after gay marriage became legal in North Carolina received two-parent certificates.

The Weisses say they need accurate birth certificates for school, health care and financial reasons.

Two state Department of Health and Human Services officials are named as defendants. The department issued a statement saying it hadn't reviewed the lawsuit and couldn't comment.

Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina on behalf the Weisses, seeking birth certificates listing both mothers as parents of their two sons.

In May 2015, DHHS issued policies regarding birth certificates for children of married same-sex couples saying that only children born after October 10, 2014 could receive new birth certificates listing both parents.  Inexplicably, DHHS polices do not allow children who were born to married same-sex couples before October 10, 2014, to get new birth certificates naming both spouses as parents, effectively erasing one parent from the family in the eyes of the State and leaving these children more vulnerable, less protected and unfairly stigmatized.

Read the filing. www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/weiss_nc_20151217_complaint

Gay & Bisexual

FDA Eases Restrictions on Blood Donations from Gay Men

(AP) Federal health officials are lifting the nation's 32-year-old lifetime ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men, but major restrictions will remain on who can donate.

Medical groups and gay activists have long said the ban could no longer be justified, based on modern testing methods. The Food and Drug Administration said Monday that the change is "backed by sound science and continues to protect our blood supply."

Officials are replacing the blanket ban with a policy barring donations from men who have had sex with another man in the previous year. While the policy has been criticized by activists, the FDA stance is in line that of other countries, including Australia and the U.K.

The lifetime ban was put in place during the early AIDS crisis.

The government affairs director of the Human Rights Coalition called the change a “step in the right direction,” Time magazine reports. 

“This new policy prevents men from donating life-saving blood based solely on their sexual orientation rather than actual risk to the blood supply,” said David Stacy, HRC’s Government Affairs Director. “While it’s a step in the right direction toward an ideal policy that reflects the best scientific research, it still falls far short of a fully acceptable solution because it continues to stigmatize gay and bisexual men.”


Religious Colleges Seek Waivers on Transgender Students

(AP) Nearly three dozen religious colleges and universities in 20 U.S. states have received federal waivers allowing them not to accommodate transgender students in admissions, housing and other areas of campus life, according to a report by the nation's largest LGBT rights group and documents obtained by The Associated Press.

The church-affiliated schools that in 2014 and 2015 obtained exemptions to a law that prohibits sex discrimination in educational settings collectively enroll more than 73,000 students, the Human Rights Campaign said in a report published Friday.

"What we want students to know is schools are serious about this, that they have gone out of their way to make sure they have the legal ability to discriminate against LGBT students," said Sarah Warbelow, the campaign's legal director.

Eighteen of the 34 universities and colleges that told the U.S. Department of Education that giving transgender students access to single-sex restrooms and facilities that correspond with their gender identity would be inconsistent with their religious tenets are controlled by the Southern Baptist Convention, according to public records obtained by both the Human Rights Campaign and the AP.

The Department of Education has seen the surge in waiver applications because its Office for Civil Rights has "exceeded its legal authority" by taking the position since 2013 that the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination applies to transgender students, Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Gregory Baylor said.

"The schools have reasonably concluded that they are quite likely to become the next target of OCR if they follow their religious convictions on these matters," said Baylor, whose Christian legal advocacy group has advised some colleges on how to seek the exemptions.

The tension mirrors disputes that have arisen over the refusal by Catholic hospitals and universities to offer contraception in their employee health plans and moves by local governments to stop contracting with religiously affiliated adoption agencies that refuse to place children in households headed by same-sex couples.