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News & Notes

June 1999

The Same-Sex Marriage Wars | Adoption In Israel . . . | . . . And In New Hampshire | Medicaid Fairness Legislation

The Same-Sex Marriage Wars

The latest front in the fight to win legal recognition of same-sex marriage is in Vermont, and opposition is coming from far afield.

Three homosexual couples who applied for and were denied marriage licenses in Vermont in 1997 have sued the state for the right to marry. The case, still pending, has engendered a great deal of public debate in a state where the town meeting is still very much a part of government.

Now, the voters of Vermont -- apparently all of the voters of Vermont -- have received a flyer urging them to align themselves on the side of "traditional marriage." Headlined "Aloha, Vermont Friends," the flyer offers solidarity: "Because we citizens of Hawaii have been there already, we want to share with you some of what we have seen and experienced over the past seven years concerning this issue. We offer our perspective in the spirit of aloha as a gift of friendship in the hope that you will be both informed and aware as you face this issue in Vermont."

Among the familiar antigay rhetoric, the flyer castigates "outside groups and offshore money" that they claim insinuated themselves into the Hawaii debate but "misrepresented themselves as 'just us locals.'" The flyer that sends "aloha" from Hawaii to Vermont bears a return address of Citizens for Community Values in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Adoption In Israel . . .

The adoption issue has taken an international turn in the case of 3-year-old Matan Brenner-Kaddish, according to a story by the Associated Press.

Young Matan was born in Berkeley, California, through artificial insemination, to Ruti Brenner-Kaddish and was immediately adopted under California Law by her partner, Nicole Brenner-Kaddish. The two women hold dual U.S.­Israeli citizenship, and tried to register their son as an Israeli citizen with the Israeli consulate in Berkeley.

But government forms allow only for the possibility of a child having one mother. In a statement, the government says, "According to Israeli law, one child cannot have two mothers."

So far, Israel has refused to honor Nicole Brenner-Kadish's legal status as Matan's parent and legal guardian under California Law. The parents took the case to court when they returned to their suburban Jerusalem home six months ago. After a preliminary hearing in late April, the Israel court has given the state three months to explain its position.

The couple has been together eight years. They plan a trip to the United States in the near future so that Ruti can legally adopt Matan's infant brother Navey, Nicole's biological son.

. . . And In New Hampshire

In April, the New Hampshire legislature repealed a 1987 law prohibiting gays from adopting children or serving as foster parents.

According to supporters of repeal, the law, which even required heterosexual couples to attest that no adult in the household was gay before they could adopt or become foster parents, was prompted by fear of AIDS and the view of homosexuals as child molesters.

"It has been instructive that one of the two states to prohibit lesbians and gay men from adoption has reversed its policy," says Kate Kendell, Executive Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. "While such a ban has proved to be a political wedge issue, in the end the victims are the children."

Senator Katie Wheeler concurs: "Because of ... ignorance, discrimination and prejudice ..., the foster children of New Hampshire have suffered."

New Hampshire's action leaves Florida the only state in the union that still bans gay adoption under state law. Arkansas and Utah prevent lesbians and gay men from adopting children through the administrative policies of their Departments of Social Services.

Medicaid Fairness Legislation

Identical House and Senate bills that would modernize Medicaid rules to allow coverage for all low-income people with HIV disease were introduced on April 28 by Senator Robert Torricelli (D-NJ) and Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). The bill, cosponsored by House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-MO), would give states the option to provide Medicaid coverage for anyone with HIV disease who would otherwise qualify for the program.

Under current Medicaid policy, HIV-positive individuals qualify for benefits, including access to protease inhibitors, only when they are diagnosed with full-blown AIDS. This policy contradicts National Institutes of Health recommendations that people with asymptomatic HIV disease begin protease drug therapy.

"Today, an entire class of Americans is denied access to drugs and care that prevent full-blown AIDS until they develop full-blown AIDS," says Daniel Zingale, Executive Director of AIDS Action. "If automobile safety regulations followed the current model, air bags would only be required in cars that have already crashed."

Introduction of the Torricelli-Pelosi Early Trreatment for HIV Act is the most recent step in a mounting effort to enact AIDS Action's Reinventing Medicaid plan, which is designed to provide eligibility to HIV-positive individuals who are poor enough but not sick enough to be eligible for the program. Vice President Gore endorsed AIDS Action's plan in the spring of 1997 and, earlier this year, a $300 million demonstration project to enact the plan in part was included in President Clinton's Fiscal Year 2000 budget proposal.

"The new AIDS drugs, which have ended the automatic death sentence of an HIV diagnosis, are in reality ending nothing for many HIV-positive men and women," added Zingale. "Enactment of the Torricelli-Pelosi bill is the last mile of a growing movement to bring fairness to Medicaid."

According to supporters of the plan, reinventing Medicaid to cover healthy HIV-positive Americans would save lives and save money. They point to the fact that every major study of protease cocktails has shown that early treatment provides the best route for preventing the onset of illness. Moreover, they say, the cost of providing drugs early would be offset by savings in the exorbitant hospital and medical costs that AIDS treatment incurs.

Senator Torricelli represents New Jersey, with its growing population of HIV-positive individuals in low-income urban centers, who are uninsured and at high risk for HIV disease. Congresswoman Pelosi, who represents San Francisco, has been a leader on AIDS since the early years of the epidemic.

Back to the June 1999 Issue of Body Positive Magazine.

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This article was provided by Body Positive. It is a part of the publication Body Positive.