Barring Judges in Custody Cases from Considering the Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity of Parents (S.432-A-Hoylman/A.861-A-Simotas)

This legislation would bar judges in child custody cases from taking the sexual orientation or gender identity of parents into account when determining the best interests of a child. Furthermore, the bill would prevent judges from ordering parents in child custody cases not to undergo “gender reassignment” surgeries. This bill is objectionable.

The bill’s sponsors have not provided any basis for their arguments in support of this legislation. The sponsor memorandum baldly asserts that a parent’s “sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression is not relevant when determining the best interest of [that parent’s] child.” No facts are offered to bear out this highly debatable claim. In similar fashion, the memo blithely reassures readers that “young children, relative to older people, are better able to cope with and digest events such as” “gender reassignment” surgeries. However, the sponsors have not cited a single one of these “reports.” Furthermore, the sponsors assert that “cases have been brought to our attention” in which a judge in a divorce case “categorically denied a person’s right to pursue” “gender reassignment” surgery. However, the sponsors have not pointed to a single case anywhere in New York where this has actually happened. Could Sen. Hoylman and Asm. Simotas not be bothered to provide any evidence that this bill is necessary or helpful? Or are they unable to provide such evidence because it simply doesn’t exist?

Given that the rationale for this bill is a dubious one, and given that the bill would likely affect an infinitesimal number of parents and children, the New York State Legislature should not waste valuable floor time advancing this measure—especially in the midst of the health and fiscal crises affecting the State of New York in 2020. This bill should be opposed.