Participating in State Contracts

Published on May 9th, 2022

Memorandum of Opposition

Re: S8061 Reichlin-Melnick

In relation to participating in state contracts

The above-referenced legislation declares that any state contract “shall be rendered forfeit and void” by the state comptroller if the contracted agency did not include in its employee health care plans “services for transgender, non-binary, and gender expansive people, including but not limited to hormone replacement therapy, gender-affirming surgery, and treatment typically associated with one particular gender.”

The sponsor’s memo makes clear that the legislation is aimed at self-funded or self-insured health plans, which are governed by ERISA rather than state law and not subject to the onerous and religiously intolerant requirements of New York State. The memo further states that to get around the federal jurisdiction of such plans, “creative solutions are required.” That’s one way of putting it.

Clearly, the legislation is a direct attack on religious service providers, such as Catholic Charities, which serves more than 1.6 million New Yorkers every year. When you add other faith-based service providers (many of which are self-insured), the numbers are even more staggering. Were this legislation to become law, the state would overnight be required create a new social services infrastructure across the state to feed and shelter poor and homeless populations, provide vital refugee and immigration services, treat thousands of people suffering from addiction or mental illness, care for people with physical and developmental disabilities, provide emergency rent and utility assistance, care for victims of domestic violence – the list goes on and on. Beyond this, thousands of human services providers, most of them women and people of color, would become unemployed when state contracts were cancelled.

This ideologically driven legislation would be catastrophic for the people of New York State. The Catholic Church sympathizes with those who have gender dysphoria or gender confusion. However, our faith clearly teaches that gender is not fluid and that it is unchangeable, and that medical interventions like cross gender hormone therapy and surgeries to radically alter male and female genitalia and sex characteristics are contrary to God’s will.

This bill is a direct and unconstitutional attack on religious liberty and we urge it be rejected.