Blog Posts for Connecticut
Congratulations students on finishing up another school year!
The year may be winding down, but GLAD still wants you to know your rights.
Read on for a summary of some of the more important rights you need to know. But remember, you can always contact GLAD’s Legal InfoLine with any questions.
If DOMA is overturned and you are in the process of appealing a previous tax return, you may be eligible to receive a refund on the extra taxes you paid. The IRS allows you to file amended income tax returns up to three years after the original return was filed. For example, in most cases you can still file an amended return for the 2009 tax year provided the IRS receives it before this April’s filing deadline. Read on for more information from our Legal InfoLine Manager, Bruce Bell.
We’ve come a good way towards establishing legal protections for transgender people in New England in the past several years. In 2011, both Connecticut and Massachusetts added gender identity to their anti-discrimination laws, joining Rhode Island (2001), Maine (2005) and Vermont (2007) in providing protections in employment, housing and credit, and, in all but Massachusetts, public accommodations (like restaurants, bars, parks, stores, hospitals, shelters, etc.). But there is still work to do.
One of the great things about living in New England is that all six states offer anti-discrimination protections for LGBT employees and workers who are living with HIV. Most workers are “employees at will” and can be fired or discriminated against by their employer for any reason or no reason at all. However, states have identified “protected characteristics” and made it illegal to fire or discriminate against an employee just because they possess, or are perceived to possess, one or more of those characteristics. For lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) workers, the protected characteristic is “sexual orientation,” for workers living with HIV, “disability,” and for transgender workers, “gender identity.”
GLAD recently provided assistance to a man charged with a serious crime—who spent over a month in jail as a result—simply because he is HIV-positive. Since then, I have been thinking about the necessity of education, particularly when it aims to dispel wholly unfounded beliefs.
In a guest post at Pam’s House Blend, GLAD’s Transgender Rights Project Director Jennifer L. Levi dispels concerns about the definition of “gender identity or expression” included in Connecticut’s new anti-discrimination law.
This week, GLAD, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and NCLR’s National Family Law Advisory Council released a revised version of Protecting Families: Standards for LGBT Families, a set of 10 guidelines aimed at reminding LGBT people how important it is to legally protect the families they create and to caution parents against wielding anti-LGBT laws against their partner should their relationship break-up. Basically, we’re calling on the members of our community—and their lawyers—to fight fairly and to do their best to avoid damaging custody disputes. As GLAD’s Mary Bonauto writes in her introduction to the standards, “We believe that, even in the midst of the emotional upheaval that inevitably accompanies the end of the adult relationship, families can do a great deal to resolve their differences in a manner that puts their children first.”
I could hardly believe that the moment for which I’d waited nearly six years had arrived. H.B. 6599, Connecticut’s transgender civil rights bill, had passed the House of Representatives nearly two weeks ago and I’d been waiting impatiently for it to be run in the Senate. But each time I e-mailed Betty Gallo, our staunch lobbyist who’s been tirelessly working this bill for years, there was little to report. I sent her a short e-mail earlier in the day asking, “Any info on timing?” She quickly replied, “No.” Honestly, I wasn’t even thinking about the bill when I left work that afternoon for my son’s baseball game. But when the call came from Jerimarie Liesegang, head of the Connecticut Transgender Advocacy Coalition (also a visionary, tireless and devoted advocate), I knew I needed to get there quickly.
On Monday, I testified before the Connecticut Legislature’s Judiciary Committee in favor H.B. 6599, “An Act Concerning Discrimination,” which would add the phrase gender identity and expression in Connecticut’s non-discrimination laws. My prepared testimony was just about two minutes, but I spent the next hour on the hot seat, fielding questions from committee members about the bill and how, when adopted as law, it would be enforced. That is as it should be. It’s important to let those who are just learning about transgender people’s lives ask of all their questions and have them answered in a reasoned, thoughtful way.
It’s everyone’s favorite time of year. At least there is some good news for transgender tax payers this year. But still the same bad news for married same sex couples.