LGBT Health

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LGBT Couples Face Ongoing Hurdles in Health Care Parity

(Rachel Dornhelm/KQED)

(Rachel Dornhelm/KQED)

The Supreme Court ruled today to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and expand the legal definition of marriage. Married people enjoy a slew of federal benefits and in California, gay couples already enjoy many of those same rights. One problem, however, is that some LGBT couples have faced hurdles accessing a number of those privileges.

In January 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services adopted a policy to address one important benefit that married couples already enjoyed: hospital visitation rights. Under that policy, people can choose practically any individual they would like to be at their hospital bedside, from a spouse to a partner to a friend. The policy is not specifically tailored to gays and lesbians; it applies to everyone.

Within the LGBT community in California, advocates say the visitation policy seems to be working well. There are far fewer people being denied the right to be with their loved ones in their time of need.

“I haven’t heard of anything in awhile in California,” said John Davidson of Lambda Legal, a civil rights advocacy group for lesbians and gay men. “A lot of hospitals have become more aware.”

But that’s not the case everywhere – and that can make a difference when people are visiting other states. Continue reading

New Law Helps LGBT Families Access Fertility Treatments

By Mina Kim, KQED

From left to right, Maya and MeiBeck Scott-Chung with their daughter Luna, and Daniel Bao. Bao donated his sperm to help Maya and MeiBeck conceive.  (Photo: Vaschelle Andre)

From left to right, Maya and MeiBeck Scott-Chung with their daughter Luna, and Daniel Bao. Bao donated his sperm to help Maya and MeiBeck conceive. (Photo: Vaschelle Andre)

Maya Scott-Chung knew she wanted to be a mom when she was seven years old and got to see a home birth.

Then in high school, she fell in love with a woman.

“When I began to realize when I was a teenager that I thought I might be gay, I thought I couldn’t be a parent,” Maya says. “It was a real conflict in my heart.”

Then Maya saw the movie Choosing Children that showed her lesbians could be parents.

“And that it’s also possible to build families in an intentional way,” Maya says. “It wasn’t exactly like replicating the nuclear family. It was really more creating an extended family.”

That’s exactly what Maya did about 20 years later, with her transgender partner MeiBeck Scott-Chung.

On a recent visit to their Oakland home, Maya and MeiBeck are helping their eight year-old daughter Luna Lee Yulien Gillingham Scott-Chung with her math homework. Luna’s name reflects the Irish, Scottish, Chinese and Hispanic heritages of Maya and MeiBeck, and their friend Daniel Bao. Bao donated his sperm to help conceive Luna. Continue reading