Gay and Transgender Rights
LGBTQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning. The acronym is intended to encompass all people who may not conform to traditional ideas about sexual orientation and gender.
When it comes to laws related to LGBTQ status, New Hampshire has protections for citizens based on both sexual orientation and gender identity.
Sexual orientation describes who a person is attracted to. For example, homosexuality is a sexual orientation.
Current state laws
- New Hampshire legalized same-sex marriage in 2010, and in 2015 a U.S. Supreme Court ruling made same-sex marriage legal nationwide. Same-sex individuals and couples in New Hampshire also have the same rights as heterosexual citizens when it comes to adoption and parenting, including the right for same-sex parents to both be listed on a child’s birth certificate.
- New Hampshire law prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodation based on sexual orientation. “Public accommodation” includes hotels, restaurants, theaters, health care providers, and so on.
- New Hampshire also has a hate crime law that allows for increased penalties if an offender is motivated by hostility towards the victim’s sexual orientation.
- It is illegal in New Hampshire to practice conversion therapy on people under age 18, which attempts to change a person's sexual orientation.
Gender identity describes a person’s sense of self as either male or female (or neither). Gender identity may be different from a person’s biological sex at birth.
Current state laws
- In 2018, New Hampshire passed a law adding gender identity to state anti-discrimination laws, which cover employment, housing and other public accomodations.
- New Hampshire’s civil rights act and hate crime laws do not include gender identity.
- New Hampshire also allows individuals to change the sex that is listed on their driver licenses if a licensed health care provider fills out a form swearing to the individual’s gender identity. Starting in January 2020, transgender and gender queer individuals will be able to choose the gender that appears on their license without any affadavit. This includes an option of "X" for people who identify as neither male nor female.
- To change the sex listed on a birth certificate, an individual must first petition the probate court for an order certifying that he or she had a sex change. The individual may then present that court order to a town clerk, who is able to get a new birth certificate from the state. Residents must pay fees to make these changes.
- There is no New Hampshire law requiring insurers to cover gender transition-related care, and most insurers opt to treat gender transition-related care as elective rather than medically necessary. New Hampshire’s Medicaid program also does not cover gender transition-related care.
Proposed state laws
There have been no New Hampshire bills to add gender transition-related care to New Hampshire’s insurance laws, although organizations such as GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders advocate for such a change.
The state's first openly-transgender legislator, Rep. Gerri Cannon, is sponsoring a bill this year to make it easier to change gender on one's birth certificate.
“New Hampshire should increase legal protections based on LGBTQ status.”
- Gay and transgender rights are human rights. New Hampshire should therefore do everything in its power to ensure that LGBTQ citizens can live and work free from discrimination. Protecting LGBTQ citizens is particularly important because they are far more likely than the general population to experience harassment and discrimination.
- There are other state laws and statutes, such as New Hampshire's hate crime and civil rights legislation, that should be updated to expressly include gender identity, so that the rights of LGBTQ citizens are fully ensured.
- States that are known as unwelcoming to LGBTQ citizens can suffer economic consequences as businesses and individuals choose to travel elsewhere. For example, after North Carolina passed a bill that required citizens to use the bathroom matching their biological sex, Forbes estimates the state lost $630 million in business. PayPal withdrew plans to build a new business center, the NBA pulled its tournament, and Google Ventures refused to invest in North Carolina companies.
- There is growing evidence of a biological basis for a transgender identity, making gender transition-related care necessary medical treatment for some individuals' mental health. New Hampshire should therefore forbid insurance companies from denying coverage for these services.
“New Hampshire should not increase legal protections based on LGBTQ status.”
- Courts have the flexibility to interpret existing anti-discrimination laws to fit new situations. For example, laws against discrimination based on sex and sexual orientation have been used to protect transgender employees in other states.
- Laws intended to protect the rights of gay and transgender citizens actually infringe on the religious rights and privacy of other citizens by forcing them to accommodate lifestyles that they find morally or personally objectionable.
- There are other ways to accommodate transgender individuals in schools and other public places, such as building single stall, gender-neutral bathrooms.
- Some health care professionals, including the Catholic Medical Association, argue that gender identity disorder/gender dysphoria is primarily a mental/emotional disorder that should not be treated with potentially harmful physical modifications. Therefore, gender transition-related services are arguably not medically necessary. Requiring insurers to cover those services will raise insurance premiums for everyone and open the door to coverage for other elective medical procedures.
- Given that there is still some debate over there being a biological basis for gender identity, it is especially important to exclude gender identity from anti-discrimination laws, as this could open the door to creating new protected classes based on any number of arbitrary factors. Adding another protected class to anti-discrimination laws will create even more opportunities for frivolous lawsuits, which already burden businesses and raise costs for consumers.