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National — Iowa Board of Psychology Rejects Petition to Ban Conversion Therapy

Iowa boards overseeing doctors and psychologists considered adopting a ban Friday on the practice of conversion therapy — or the changing of children’s sexual orientation — by state-licensed professionals, according to LGBTQ Nation.

The Iowa Board of Psychology voted to deny the potation that would have prohibited mental health providers licensed in Iowa from trying to reverse the sexual orientation of a patient.

The petition was submitted in February and was signed by 695 people.

An Iowa Board of Medicine Committee declined to take action on the ban, claiming that the group needs further study before making a recommendation to the full board, according to Committee Chairman Ronald Cheney.

The committee heard from Dr. Katie Imborek, who runs the LGBTQ Clinic at the University of Iowa, on Friday. Dr. Imborek said conversion therapy has shown to be harmful for children.

The committee also heard from a Christian organization that opposes the ban, saying that such a policy steps beyond medical concerns into religious and spiritual matters.

“Many people hold different views, and when we as a board or we as a state seek to step in and limit a very large section of the population that holds a certain view of sexual ethics, I think that that’s dangerous and it’s wrong,” Nathan Oppman, a spokesman for The Family Leader, said. The Des Moines based group that opposed gay marriage and other gay rights, as well as abortion and the spread of gambling.

 

Legal — Lesbian Couples Challenge NJ Insurance Law

(PGN) Four New Jersey women filed a federal lawsuit last week charging that a state insurance law regarding payments for fertility treatments is discriminatory against same-sex couples.

New Jersey is one of 15 states that requires insurance providers to pay for infertility treatments. However, the wording of the state’s law requires that patients prove they are infertile through both medical documentation and by attesting to unprotected heterosexual sex.

Erin and Marianne Krupa, of Montclair, and Sol Mejias and Sarah Mills, of North Bergen and Union City, respectively, were denied coverage by Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield because of the language defining infertility. The company eventually agreed to pay for the Krupas’ infertility treatments, but has continued to deny payments for treatments for Mejias and Mills.

In a statement issued this week, attorney Grace Cathryn Cretcher of Beranbaum Menken LLP, who is representing the couples, said their “goal in filing this case is to affirm that this most basic human hope — to experience the joy of bringing a child into the world — is one shared by New Jerseyans regardless of sexuality, and that the state’s interest in building strong families and strong communities is best served by protecting the ability of all its citizens to realize their dreams of becoming parents.

Garden State Equality executive director Christian Fuscarino noted in a statement that New Jersey Sen. Loretta Weinberg and Assemblywoman Pam Lampitt have introduced legislation to rectify the language in the law. California and Maryland have adopted laws clarifying that insurance companies must offer benefits regardless of patients’ sexual orientation.

“We look forward to working with [Weinberg and Lampitt] to ensure the language is as protective for same-sex couples as possible,” Fuscarino said.

 

Legal — Wyoming Supreme Court to Hear Arguments On Same-Sex Marriage

(EDGE) The Wyoming Supreme Court is set to hear arguments next week on whether a Pinedale judge who has said she wouldn't perform same-sex marriages because of her religious beliefs should be removed from office.

Ruth Neely in April filed a petition asking the court to reject a recommendation from the Wyoming Commission on Judicial Conduct and Ethics that she lose her posts as a municipal judge and circuit court magistrate.

The commission started an investigation of Neely after she told a reporter in 2014 she would not perform same-sex marriages because of her religious beliefs. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that same-sex couples nationwide may marry.

In fighting removal, Neely argues that she has a constitutional right to voice her opinion. Her lawyers have said no same-sex couples have asked her to preside over their weddings. She's currently suspended from the circuit court post.

"In a chilling forecast, the commission leaves no doubt that if it has its way, no judge who holds Judge Neely's religious beliefs about marriage can remain on the bench once the public learns of those beliefs," Neely's lawyers wrote.

Casper lawyers Patrick Dixon and Britney F. Turner represent the Wyoming commission. Attempts to reach them for comment were unsuccessful. Commission Executive Director Wendy Soto declined comment Friday.

"The Wyoming Commission on Judicial Conduct and Ethics has no interest in interfering with Judge Neely's or anyone else's free exercise of religion," Dixon and Turner wrote in a brief to the Wyoming Supreme Court, which is set to hear arguments Wednesday in Cheyenne. "Neither is it concerned with suppressing her First Amendment right to permissible speech. However, it is tasked with enforcing the Code of Judicial Conduct. What Judge Neely did and said is a violation of that Code. Given her unwillingness to even acknowledge the ethical implications, she cannot remain in office."

 

Legal — Man Sues San Francisco TV Station for Spousal Benefits

(EDGE) A man whose husband worked for KRON4 is suing the San Francisco TV station for spousal benefits he says he's entitled to after his husband's death.

David Reed, 47, filed his lawsuit Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Reed and Donald Lee Gardner, who was KRON4's technical director for over 30 years, became registered domestic partners in 2004. Gardner retired in 2009, and the couple married in 2014, only five days before Gardner died of a rare blood disease. He was 64.

After Gardner died, Reed sought a spousal survivor benefit under KRON4's pension plan, which incorporates California law mandating that registered domestic partners have the same rights as married couples. However, Reed's request has been rejected.

"I was devastated by KRON4's refusal to recognize our relationship and to pay the benefits that Donald earned during his long service to KRON4 in order to protect our family," Reed said in a news release from the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which along with Renaker Hasselman LLP is representing him.

According to Reed's complaint, Gardner had chosen a single-life annuity on his pension election form, "which was listed ... as available to participants 'If not married.'" The documents say since Gardner wasn't "provided with a written explanation of his right to a joint-and-survivor annuity and Mr. Reed did not consent to his election of a single-life annuity," that choice "is invalid."

In a phone interview, Reed, who now lives in Quincy, Massachusetts, said he interned for years at KRON4, and human resources and other staff knew of his and Gardner's relationship.

"We were deeply in love, very, very, very much in love, Don and I," Reed said. "Everyone around us knew it."

 

Entertainment — CBS Boss On Diversity in Fall Lineup: “We Need To Do Better”

(CNN) With six new fall shows headlined by white male actors, CBS Entertainment president Glenn Geller admits the network has some work to do.

"We need to do better and we know it," Geller told reporters Wednesday at the Television Critics Association press tour. "That's really it. We need to do better."

"I understand certainly the inclination to look at the screen and just look at leads," he said. "But I do think when we're talking about diversity and inclusion, we also have to look behind the camera."

There, Geller said, the network is doing better. He said their writers’ rooms are more diverse than last year, and they've put efforts into diversifying their episodic directors.

The same, however, can't be said for the showrunners on the network's new series -- all of whom are white.

"We know we need to do better in certain areas," Geller added. "We take it seriously and we hear you."

And Geller said they've made progress including more LGBT characters. Several shows on the network — including "Bull," "Great Indoors" and "NCIS: New Orleans" — will feature LGBT characters.

On the upcoming show "Doubt," Laverne Cox will be the first transgender actress to hold a series regular role on broadcast TV, according to Geller.

"Our goal is always to be more diverse. We did not meet that goal this year in terms of leads," Geller said after the panel. "But overall we are more diverse this year and that's the trend and that's where I want to take the network," he added.


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