Letters to the Editor

More Debate on Health Decision-Making

May 26, 2006

To the Editor:

In his letter to the editor, Bill Hammond completely misses the basic point that the Family Decision-Making bill is opposed by many members of the Assembly, which includes many women. Instead, Mr. Hammond chose to focus exclusively on opposition from us, the only two openly-gay assemblymembers.

We thought then, and still believe, that his choice to limit his attention to us and to denigrate our insistence on equal treatment for spouses and domestic partners as “nit-picking” is homophobic. While he admits the bill “does not specifically protect domestic partners,” he ignores the real world experience of the LGBT community, which is that we have too often seen our relationships disregarded, and that without the specific legal recognition offered by marriage, which is denied to us, our community remains far more vulnerable than the heterosexual majority.

Given this reality, it is crucial that domestic partners be explicitly provided decision-making power equal to spouses in order to avoid disputes with family members during this very difficult time. Characterizing as nit-picking our insistence that domestic partners be adequately protected by the legislation is, to us, homophobic in itself.

In another letter, Donna Lieberman of the New York Civil Liberties Union, tries to allay the concerns about a separate category for pregnant women in the bill. While legal minds can endlessly parse the language, it may be up to a judge to interpret the law. We would assume that, in these very difficult cases of an incapacitated person, all conditions that person might have would be considered and any treatment options reviewed with them in mind.

However, once the Legislature determines that it will single out one condition and specifically mentions pregnancy, it provides an opportunity for any jurist with an agenda to assume we meant something more. In fact, if the surrogate decision-maker is supposed to act “as he or she believes the incapacitated person would wish,” then this would apply to all circumstances and pregnancy need not be singled out. We are made all the more uncomfortable by being told that the language was added at the urging of the Catholic Conference, even if they “somewhat ruefully, testified… that this language creates no rights for the fetus.”

If that is the case, then let’s return to the original version that didn’t include a separate clause. If on the other hand, the Catholic Conference insists this must be included, then why should we be mollified? Finally, Donna Lieberman’s contention that “not a single choice group opposes this language,” leaves out the flip side—other than the NYCLU, no pro-choice group has come out in support of the bill.

Deborah J. Glick

Assemblymember 66th District, Manhattan

Daniel O’Donnell

Assemblymember 69th District, Manhattan

Canadian Trans Gains Qualified

May 29, 2006

To the Editor:

Canadian Transexuals Fight For Rights believes there was never a doubt that the police in Ontario would be found guilty of discrimination regarding strip searches of transex and intersex people (“Trans Rights Wins in Canada, Europe,” by Arthur S. Leonard, Jun. 1-7). However pleased we might be that the Peel Police Force acknowledged wrongdoing by discriminating, we feel concern regarding the wording of the decision is warranted.

Transex and intersex people are amongst the highest of discriminated people in Canada and slowly those communities are gaining basic human rights. It is unfortunate that Vice Chair Ross Hendricks felt it fair to allow police to interrogate intersex and transex detainees by way of very personal questions, which we feel no other minority or person with a medical condition would be forced to answer. Ross Hendriks allows the police force to continue refusing that transex or intersex detainee the dignity and respect to be searched in the manner according to their core gender identity by using the wording, “Where the officer continues to have serious reason to doubt the detainee’s self identification, the officer shall defer to the Officer-in-Charge of the Division for final determination.” We are concerned this could mean an intersex or transex person could be confronted, as they exit a public washroom, and be required to answer the same questions or fear arrest and further humiliation and abuse.

Maureen Somers

Canadian Transexuals Fight For Rights



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