TRENTON – A bill allowing amended birth certificates in cases where someone has not actually undergone sex change surgery cleared the Senate largely on party lines.
But not before two Republican senators made it clear they have problems with the bill and its main sponsor came to its defense.
S2786/A4097, which passed 21-11, changes the law that says in order to obtain an amended birth certificate, a person first had to undergo reassignment surgery.
Sponsor Sen. Joe Vitale, (D-19), spoke of how in this era someone should have the right to be identified as they choose.
But Republican Sens. Mike Doherty, (R-23), Washington, and Sam Thompson, (R- 12), Old Bridge, spoke equally strongly against the bill.
Doherty prefaced his criticisms by saying he knows how times have changed. “I know that talking about certain topics in 2013 is a minefield,’’ he said.
“On this bill I’m a little troubled,’’ said Doherty, one of his party’s most conservative thinkers. In light of the fact the state has important issues such as property taxes and school funding before it, “I’m troubled that we’re spending a significant amount of time and resources on this particular legislation,” Doherty said.
In particular, he questioned the section that would allow a minor – if a parent consents – to petition for an amended birth certificate.
Minors as young as 12 can be confused about who they are, Doherty argued, and yet this bill would say it’s OK to make as sweeping a decision as to change a birth certificate.
He made reference to the case of New York Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio’s wife, who after identifying herself as a lesbian for years fell in love with de Blasio, and argued that if adults can still struggle with sexual identify, should there be a bill that makes it OK for a minor to change a birth certificate?
Thompson said that one should not be allowed to change a birth certificate, a document that is a statement of fact. He said he intends to introduce a proposal next year to amend existing law so that someone could have a statement affixed to the birth certificate, but not change the certificate itself.
But Vitale defended the rights of such people to choose their own course.
He responded to Doherty that it was incorrect to dismiss a bill as a waste of time; “They’re all important,’’ he said.
He pointed out that there are people who because of various reasons – expense, lack of insurance coverage, physical inability or old age – cannot undergo a sex change.
“But in every other way of their being, they are not what a birth certificate says,’’ Vitale said.
“That is their choice. That is their belief. I think it is common sense.’’
As Vitale and co-sponsor Sen. Loretta Weinberg, (D-37), Teaneck, said in their bill, “The purpose of the bill is to acknowledge that individuals do not necessarily undergo sex reassignment surgery when changing sex.”