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National LGBT groups roundly criticize N.J. Gov. Christie for veto of transgender birth certificate bill

N.J. Gov. Chris Christie on Monday vetoed a bill that would have allowed transgender people to amend their birth certificates.

Several leading gay rights groups immediately criticized Christie’s veto:

HRC, Human Rights Campaign:

Washington – New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoed today a bill that would have made it easier for transgender residents to obtain an amended birth certificate. The legislation, which passed the state legislature last year, simply would have allowed transgender residents to change the gender marker on their birth certificate by providing an affidavit from a licensed medical professional showing they had undergone medically appropriate treatment. HRC President Chad Griffin released the following statement:

“Chris Christie has a responsibility to look out for the well-being of all New Jerseyans, but today he chose instead to keep in place burdensome regulations for transgender people living in his state. This legislation would have made it easier for transgender residents to amend their birth certificate – a basic form of identification that is required for many other documents and that speaks to our core identity and humanity. Governor Christie is letting down transgender New Jerseyans and showing that their well-being is of no concern to him.  We call on the legislature to again pass this legislation and shine a spotlight on how harmful this veto is to the citizens of his state.”

Lambda Legal:

"There is simply no justification for requiring transgender or intersex individuals to undergo unnecessary and often unavailable procedures in order to amend their birth certificates."

(New York, January 13, 2014) – New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie today vetoed a bill passed by strong majorities in the New Jersey House and Senate that would allow transgender people to update the gender marker on their birth certificates to match their lived gender. Christie's veto leaves in place a requirement that transgender New Jerseyans must undergo surgical procedures to obtain an accurate birth certificate.

"There is simply no justification for requiring transgender or intersex individuals to undergo unnecessary and often unavailable procedures in order to amend their birth certificates," said Dru Levasseur, Lambda Legal Transgender Rights Project Director. "New Jersey's onerous surgery requirement is out-of-step with contemporary standards for transgender health care and imposes a hurdle that many cannot and should not have to meet simply to have identity documents that reflect who they are."

In testimony delivered before the New Jersey Legislature on December 12, 2013, in support of the bill, Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Jael Humphrey stated: "Birth certificates are the most basic proof of who we are. Our identification documents are a gateway to employment, education and housing. They affect our ability to adopt or retain custody of our children, to secure a loan or to prove to our employers that we are authorized to work. When the gender marker differs from lived gender on identity documents, or the documents themselves are inconsistent, transgender and intersex people are robbed of their privacy and are more vulnerable to harassment, groundless accusations of fraud, discrimination and even violence."

New Jersey declined to join a growing list of states and federal entities which have modernized their policies for changing gender markers on identification documents, including the U.S. Department of State and the Social Security Administration. The bill, S2786, would have mandated a new birth record for people who have undergone "clinically appropriate treatment for the purpose of gender transition, based on contemporary medical standards." Sponsored by New Jersey State Sen. Joseph Vitale, the bill passed the Senate in late December by a vote of 21-11. The New Jersey State Assembly approved the bill in June by a vote of 43-27.

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:

WASHINGTON, Jan 14 — "Gov. Chris Christie's veto of a bill that makes it easier for transgender people to amend their birth certificates shows how out of touch he is with the lives of LGBT people and our allies. This was an opportunity to separate himself from the extreme right. Instead he seems to want to be the politician who erects obstacles rather than someone who tears them down. We applaud our partners at Garden State Equality for their hard work to get this vital legislation passed."

-- Rev Darlene Nipper, Deputy Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund

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