Media Trail – 7/5/19

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Vermont: Insurers can’t deny care for transgender youth

The State reported Vermont is clarifying that insurers cannot deny coverage of gender affirmation health care because of the individual’s age.

Department of Financial Regulation Commissioner Michael Pieciak said June 24 the state had been receiving complaints from young Vermonters and their parents that insurers have been denying such coverage.

A 2007 Vermont law prohibits discrimination based on gender identity. A 2013 state bulletin said that law applies to the coverage of medically necessary care including gender affirmation surgery.

Vermont updated that bulletin to clearly state that insurers cannot deny coverage of gender affirmation surgery due to age unless because of other clinical factors or circumstances.

Meanwhile, the federal government is proposing to roll back similar federal protections. Republican Gov. Phil Scott’s administration proposed allowing individuals under age 21 to undergo gender-affirming surgery through Medicaid.

Minneapolis church expelled over support of gay marriage

The Star Tribune reported leaders of the Evangelical Covenant Church have voted to defrock a Minneapolis pastor and expel his church for permitting gay marriage.

The Rev. Dan Collison had his credentials removed by a 77-percent vote at the Evangelical Covenant Church’s annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska on June 27.

Leaders also voted to expel Collison’s First Covenant Church in downtown Minneapolis. First Covenant was a founding member of the 134-year-old denomination. A Michigan pastor also was defrocked for officiating his son’s same-sex marriage.

Collison said he was “not surprised’’ but “saddened’’ after he was voted out.

The ECC says First Covenant is free to keep operating as a church. First Covenant says Collison will continue serving as lead pastor.

In 2014, a First Covenant staff member officiated an off-site wedding of two women from the church worship band.

Republicans criticize Montana governor for flying Pride flag

The Great Falls Tribune reported Montana’s Republican legislative leaders are criticizing Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock for flying the gay Pride rainbow flag instead of the state flag over the weekend.

House Speaker Greg Hertz and Senate President Scott Sales accused Bullock Monday of disrespecting the state flag that flies over the Capitol in Helena in an attempt to stand out in his long-shot presidential campaign.

The Great Falls Tribune reports Bullock requested the flag to fly on behalf of the LGBTQ community and Saturday’s Big Sky Pride parade in Helena.

Bullock spokeswoman Marissa Perry says the rainbow flag was raised in celebration and in recognition of the gay community’s contributions, and not as a political statement.

She notes the Montana state flag also is replaced by the Irish flag each year on St. Patrick’s Day.

Maine Episcopal Diocese consecrates first openly gay bishop

The Longview News-Journal reported the Episcopal Diocese of Maine has consecrated an openly gay bishop for the first time.

The diocese says Rev. Thomas James Brown was ordained and consecrated as its tenth bishop on June 21 in a ceremony that drew more than 900 people to St. Luke’s Cathedral in Portland. Twenty-seven Episcopal bishops and more than 100 clergy from Maine participated in the service.

Gene Robinson, the retired Diocese of New Hampshire bishop and the first openly gay bishop, said Brown “stands on the shoulders of many other LGBTQ priests.’’

Brown is originally from Michigan and trained at parishes in California and his home state. He has also served in Vermont and Massachusetts. Brown said he is “especially grateful to be welcomed by loving and wise bishops in New England.”

Reporting via Associated Press