New Jersey Vs. Lesbian Couples: Gay Women Sue State For Discrimination Over Fertility Laws

Lesbian couple Sarah Mills and Gloria Torres have been in a relationship for six years, and only recently have been trying to conceive a baby. They have tried taking the legal route to help with Mills’ fertility issue, but New Jersey law clearly states that it only covers conception between a man and a woman.

Sarah Mills has polycystic ovarian syndrome, a disorder which disrupts her menstrual cycle, and she simply wants help overcoming it.

Erin and Marianne Krupa are having the same problem, with Erin having been plagued with benign uterine cysts. She also has endometriosis, which makes her infertile.

Sol Mejias and her wife, Yanassa Hernandez, are facing the same problem.

These lesbian couples want the same rights as straight couples, and those rights include raising a family of their own. However, New Jersey laws specifically require evidence that a man is involved in the conception through unprotected sex.

The fertility laws are defeating these couples’ hopes, and they have taken the struggle to court, targeting Richard J. Badolato, the commissioner of the state Department of Banking and Insurance.

“Despite having a medical diagnosis of infertility, because, as a lesbian in a committed relationship, Erin could not show that she had unprotected sexual intercourse with a man for the requisite period, the Krupas were not protected by the mandate.”

“This civil rights case is about family and the right of all New Jersey women who dream of becoming mothers to access the reproductive healthcare they need to realize that dream on an equal basis, regardless of their sexual orientation.”

Apparently, the insurance law doesn’t cover vaginal injections from sperm banks. Erin, Sol, and Sarah would all have to actually cheat on their partners with a man before insurance would cover their treatments. Together, the Krupas had spent over $25,000 on failed treatments before insurance finally started covering them.

Mejias and Mills are still denied coverage under Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey.

Attorney Grace Cathryn Cretcher is helping the lesbian couples in their fight. “These women are already going through what can be a difficult experience, and they have the added stress of affording it financially and the added insult of being treated like a second-class citizen.”

Allegedly, the lesbian couples are being given the option of either financial security or raising a family, but not both.

Lambda Legal spokesperson Susan Sommer, a New York City activist for the LGBTQ community, says, “This lawsuit reflects the frustration and indignities lesbian and gay people endure because state laws and insurance rules continue to presume the only parents are heterosexual parents.”

Although many minority groups have been gaining rights, the United States as a whole still has a long way to go toward equality. It has been illegal to own a slave since the Civil War; women have had the right to vote for 96 years; Hillary Clinton is the first woman to run for President for a major party, and gay couples can now be married. However, lesbian couples attempting to conceive and raise babies without the inclusion of a man aren’t being covered in the State of New Jersey.

A spokesperson for Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey has stated that the case involves state law and not the insurance company, which claims it covers ‘infertility services equally, regardless of sexual orientation.”

“Members unable to conceive due to medical or biological reasons are covered for the specific infertility benefits included in their policy. Horizon is committed to equality, values our LGBTQ members, and is sensitive to their unique healthcare challenges and needs. We regularly review our standards and procedures to ensure parity and fairness for all of our members.”

The state Department of Banking and Insurance has acknowledged receipt of the suit by the lesbian couples but has declined to comment on the pending case.

[Image via Dubova/Shutterstock]