NEW YORK (ChurchMilitant.com) - Two dozen Democratic attorneys general are suing the Trump administration to block its rule removing nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people in health care and health insurance.
The lawsuit, filed July 20 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, is seeking an immediate stoppage to the rule, which the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued in June. The rule interprets "sex" as either biological male or biological female, leaving all other self-classifications legally unrecognized.
"It is never acceptable to deny health care to Americans who need it, but it is especially egregious to do so in the middle of a pandemic," said New York attorney general Letitia James, who is leading the pack of 24 state attorneys general involved in the suit.
The Office of Civil Rights (part of the HHS) said that it will enforce the administration's provision, known as Section 1557, by confining the government's interpretation of "sex discrimination" to one that preserves the plain meaning of the word "sex," i.e., maleness or femaleness as determined by biology.
It clarifies that insurance policies and health care regulated under the Obama-era Affordable Care Act (ACA) can deny services to transgender people. HHS said it is going back to a time when the government "declined to recognize sexual orientation as a protected category under the ACA."
The lawsuit says the rule "unlawfully ignores the harm done to vulnerable populations, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, individuals with limited English proficiency and women," according to the Wall Street Journal.
Opponents of the rule argue that it rolls back important protections for transgender people granted under the ACA and that it "could lead to transgender individuals and others in the LGBTQ community being denied health care services."
"We cannot and will not allow Donald Trump to continue attacking us," Human Rights Campaign president, Alphonso David said in a statement. "LGBTQ people get sick. LGBTQ people need health care. LGBTQ people should not live in fear that they cannot get the care they need simply because of who they are."
New York governor Andrew Cuomo tweeted, "At a time when there is so much violence against trans people, it is abhorrent that the Trump admin is stripping away critical health protections."
Supporters of the rule argue the Obama administration went beyond its authority in broadening nondiscrimination provisions in the first place.
"It clears up the mass confusion unleashed by Obama's redefinition of sex discrimination," said Roger Severino, Director of Health and Human Services' Office of Civil Rights.
"Sex is a biological reality critically important in the practice of medicine and science, which are substantially funded by HHS," he said.
Health and Human Services argues the rule will also save taxpayers "$2.9 billion in undue and ineffective regulatory burdens over five years," according to a statement.
Illinois bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Springfield diocese has written an extensive guide for the Catholic schools in his diocese. With it, he intends to help Catholics negotiate the controversial waters of transgender issues.
In it, Paprocki states, "The Catholic Church teaches that the removal or destruction of healthy sexual and reproductive organs is a type of mutilation and intrinsically evil. Procedures, surgeries and therapies designed to assist a person in 'transitioning' his or her gender are morally prohibited."
But he continues, "Everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his [birth-appointed] sexual identity."
Paprocki also refers to section 2333 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which states, "Each of the two sexes is an image of the power and tenderness of God, with equal dignity though in a different way."
"Nonetheless, the presentation of this truth must be made with love, compassion and patience," he adds.
Section 1557, which will take effect mid-August, applies only to Health and Human Services programs.
The states represented in the lawsuit include New York, California, Michigan, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.