Supreme Court rulings benefit the LGBT community

SCOTUS

Outside the U.S. Supreme Court on June 25. (Courtesy Dreanna Belden)

The U.S. Supreme Court today (Thursday, June 25) decided two major cases — one on housing and one healthcare — that affect members of the LGBT community. The housing case originated in Dallas.

King v. Burwell (Affordable Care Act subsidies)

While acknowledging in the majority opinion supporting the Affordable Care Act that many passages are poorly written, the decision upholds the subsidies that have allowed millions of people to obtain health insurance. The ruling particularly affects Texas because the suit took aim at states — like Texas — that didn’t create their own health insurance exchanges.

For people with HIV, that coverage has meant being able to see a private doctor and go to a hospital other than Parkland. For AIDS agencies providing direct healthcare, it’s meant a new revenue source and the ability to help more people without insurance.

AIDS Arms, with two medical clinics, has seen an increase in the number of its patients with insurance. Services provided to those same clients previously would have been covered by grants.

Not everyone is happy with the Supreme Court’s rulings.

“This is unfortunate news for the millions of Americans who have experienced first-hand the devastating effects Obamacare has had on their families and businesses,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said. “While today’s ruling is disappointing, Obamacare remains one of the broadest overreaches of federal authority in our nation’s history and we must continue to call on our leaders in Washington to step up and put an end to this job-killing law.”

The job-killing Paxton was referring to is that 2014, the first year of implementation of the ACA was the strongest year for job-creation since the 1990s.

State Rep. Chris Turner, D-Arlington, said, “The impact of a different decision would have been devastating” and would have affected insurance for about 830,000 Texans.

Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, said, “Now that this ruling has been cemented in stone by the highest court of the land, it is my hope that House Republicans can finally move past their partisan obsession with obstructing and dismantling the Affordable Care Act and begin to work with House Democrats on responsible and bipartisan efforts to lower health care costs, create jobs, and strengthen our economy.”

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum weighed in as well.

“Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court is yet another reminder that if we are to rid our nation Obamacare once and for all, we need to elected [sic] a conservative President prepared to lead on day one.”

Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project (disparate impact and the Fair Housing Act)

The second case upheld the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Attorney Mike Daniel, former husband of County Commissioner Theresa Daniel, represented Dallas’ Inclusive Communities Project, and prevailed in the U.S. Supreme Court.

The decision allows the Dallas nonprofit to sue for discrimination, even if the bias wasn’t intentional. Money for housing projects usually went to Dallas’ poorest neighborhoods rather than placing low-income housing throughout the city. That could affect plans for Dallas Housing Authority’s largest project slated for Kings Road between Maple Avenue and Cedar Springs Road.

However, the decision affects housing across the country.

“Disparate impact claims under the Fair Housing Act are key to addressing systemic housing discrimination and segregation in the United States, including against LGBT people,” said Human Rights Campaign Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “As the LGBT community seeks to gain explicit protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, this decision from the court is welcome news and reinforces this important tool for addressing housing discrimination.”

“We are elated that the U.S. Supreme Court protected health insurance for millions and reinforced the importance of rooting out discrimination in housing,” said Kate Kendall, National Center for Lesbian Rights executive director. “These two rulings reaffirm the most basic principles of equality, access, and fair dealing.”

—  David Taffet

BREAKING: Supreme Court rules on housing, healthcare

Supreme-Court-building-permissionNo marriage equality ruling today, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on 2 cases. The marriage equality ruling will either be issued tomorrow, June 26 — the anniversary of the Lawrence v. Texas, Windsor and Prop 8 decisions — or on Monday, June 29.

On the second-to-last opinion day of the term, it’s customary for the Chief Justice to announce that the remaining opinions are coming on the next day. He didn’t do that today, so announcement of the remaining five opinions will probably be split between Friday and Monday.

The Texas Housing decision, a Dallas case, was decided 5-4 upholding the lower court decision and is remanded to the Fifth Circuit to review.

SCOTUSblog wrote, “The issue in this case is whether the Fair Housing Act allows lawsuits based on disparate impact – that is, an allegation that a law or practice has a discriminatory effect, even if it wasn’t based on a discriminatory purpose. The court had granted review to consider this question in two earlier cases, but both of those cases settled before the Court could rule on them.”

The ruling broadens the terms of discrimination and Dallas Housing Authority must do more to distribute funds for housing in black and in white neighborhoods.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the decision in King v. Burwell, a 6-3 opinion. Subsidies for health insurance will continue in states like Texas that did not expand Medicaid coverage and did not create their own exchanges.

—  David Taffet

Trans Pride Initiative’s going to DC but needs your help

Nell-Gaither

Trans Pride Initiative’s Nell Gaither.

Thanks to Out2Enroll, Trans Pride’s Nell Gaither will join other LGBT advocates from around the country in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, April 10, to share stories and successes of LGBT people under the Affordable Care Act.

She’s going to D.C. with her personal stories and wants to hear yours, too. She’ll be talking about how, before the Affordable Care Act, she was denied coverage by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas for being trans.

If you have a health care story, comment or suggestion to share, you have a few options. You can share anonymously via this online form, e-mail it to nell@tpride.org or call Nell at 214-394-9835. She will record your story over the phone.

She’d prefer to receive comments by Wednesday, April 9.

—  James Russell

New group helping LGBT community enroll in ACA insurance plans

Rudolph_1_2659Under the Affordable Care Act, you must enroll by Dec. 23 to be covered with health insurance from the online marketplace by Jan. 1.

Out2Enroll.org is a coalition of groups formed to get the LGBT community to enroll in healthcare through the online marketplace. The website answers questions like: Can I enroll in family coverage with my same-sex partner?

A disproportionate part of the LGBT community has been uninsured. Among the reasons are companies, especially smaller companies, not offering the healthcare benefits to families of gay and lesbian employees they offer to heterosexual employees.

The Out2Enroll website has a good explanation of the change in coverage for the trans community now that being transgender is no longer a preexisting condition.

To grab some attention, Out2Enroll produced a commercial. It’s hot and funny, and it’s pissing off the right wing. Take a look:

—  David Taffet

Costume of the year: Obamacare Bear & Romneycare Bear, Identical ‘Man-Dates’

In case you missed it, over on the main page, we’ve posted a very spooky slideshow by Chuck Marcelo from Saturday’s Halloween Street Party on Cedar Springs. But even after scrolling through all 156 photos, I still think the best costume I’ve seen so far this year belongs to Dallas Voice staffer Chance Browning, right, and his friend Andrew Phifer. And, almost as good as the costume itself, is this blurb they sent about how it came to be and how it went over:

Our criteria in putting together a costume for each year’s block party, always has the same criteria. The costume must be topical, current, relevant, clever and preferably make a strong political statement. In past years, we have run the gamut, from Pissed Off FLDS Prairie Ladies to Beaten and Bruised Target Employees to The Healthcare Bill on Capitol Hill and even Aqua Buddha. This year in brainstorming, we kept coming back to the election cycle, and finally The Healthcare Bears were born. I will say that we received an overwhelming response and praise through social networks, and some slight confusion from some of the intoxicated partygoers at the Street Party. The ones who got it really GOT it and loved! On the other hand, me being Romneycare Bear, I got some unknowing drunk people stumbling up to me and voicing their support of Romney, thinking I was some sort of Romney surrogate, which allowed for the perfect platform to discuss Romney’s support, or lack thereof for the LGBT Community.

All that being said the tag line that we came up with to best capture our concept this year is: The Healthcare Bears: Obamacare Bear & Romneycare Bear, Identical ‘Man-Dates’

Andrew Phifer and Chance Browning
@andrewphifer  @chancebrowning

—  John Wright

LGBT groups praise Supreme Court’s health care decision — except for Log Cabin Republicans

The Supreme Court’s decision Thursday upholding the Affordable Care Act will affect access to healthcare across the LGBT community. People will not lose their health insurance because of HIV status or other pre-existing conditions, and transgender people cannot be denied coverage.

In its decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the penalty for not buying insurance under the “individual mandate” is a tax and is therefore constitutional.

While the ACA makes insurance coverage more widely available to the LGBT community, the ruling allows states like Texas to refuse federal money to expand Medicaid to cover more people unable to afford private health insurance.

Insurance should be more accessible once statewide insurance exchanges are created, but Texas has done little to begin creating those exchanges, banking on the ACA being declared unconstitutional. State exchanges will not be allowed to discriminate based on sexual orientation, gender identity or sex.

Dallas’ AIDS Interfaith Network called the decision a “major step forward in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

In a press release, AIN wrote:

By upholding the Affordable Care Act, ensuring more individuals can obtain health insurance coverage, the Court removed a major roadblock to ending AIDS in America.

People living with HIV will have access to the reliable health coverage they need to seek and maintain continuous care, without unnecessary worrying about interrupts in care because of inadequate coverage or inability to pay.

National LGBT organizations, with the exception of Log Cabin Republicans, praised the decision.

—  David Taffet

Still Waiting For Peter LaBarbera’s Follow-On Piece On “Obama-Care” And “Sex Change Operations”

Recently, Peter LaBarbera wrote a piece for his Americans For Truth About Homosexuality website, entitled New HRC Corporate Scorecard Demands Coverage of Transsexual ‘Sex-Change’ Operations. (I responded in the PHB piece More “Truth” On “Sex Change Operations”?)

Image: Peter LaBarbera; Link: 'Sometimes you feel like a nut..'In LaBarbera’s October 23, 2010 piece, he stated:

Next week: how the Obama administration is telling LGBT activists to lobby for “sex change” operations to be covered under “Obama-care.”

By my math, “next week” has pretty much come and gone; today (November 6, 2010) is the last day of “next week.”

But hey, LaBarbera’s piece on LGBT Activists, “Obama-care,” and “sex change operations”  would be better late than never, right?

If you’d still like to read that Americans For Truth About Homosexuality piece on how “the Obama administration is telling LGBT activists to lobby for ‘sex change’ operations to be covered under ‘Obama-care’,” you can go to the Americans For Truth About Homosexuality Contact Us webpage, and get the information on how to call its Executive Director, send the Executive Director email, or send the Executive Director snail mail.

Hey, I’m about darn sure Executive Director of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality (and you knew that the Executive Director was Peter LaBarbera, right?) would like to hear how this delayed piece on LGBT Activists, “Obama-care,” and “sex change operations” is of interest to you, and you’re waiting with baited breath to read it.

I know I’m still waiting to read this upcoming piece — I’m sure the piece is going to be a hoot!
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

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