The following is a news release from the CNMI House of Representatives:
Some of the most vulnerable members of our community got one step closer in their search for equality and acceptance (Monday) afternoon when the CNMI House of Representatives unanimously passed two House Bills that promote the health, safety, and well-being of LGBTQ+ people in the Marianas.
House Bill 22-87, known as the CNMI Equality Act, Ǻktun Achá-Parehu, or Alléghúl Aweeweppagh, provides that no person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws or the enjoyment of civil rights, nor be discriminated against on account of sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation. The bill expressly prohibits such discrimination in employment, and adds protections for sexual orientation and gender identity in the Commonwealth’s existing nondiscrimination laws, covering areas that include the civil service, health insurance, housing, and jury service.
House Bill 22-86 was amended by the committee to incorporate recommendations by the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation. These amendments include requirements for a signed attestation under penalty of law by the individual seeking to change the gender marker on their birth certificate, and for a signature by a parent, legal guardian, or legal representative if the requesting individual is a minor under the age of 18.
One key amendment to House Bill 22-86 incorporates clarifying provisions requested by the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation. Additional amendments include requirements for a signed attestation under penalty of law by the individual seeking to change the gender marker on their birth certificate, and for a signature by a parent, legal guardian, or legal representative if the requesting individual is a minor under the age of 18.
“The passage of the CNMI Equality Act and Vital Statistics provisions demonstrate our strong tradition of respect and love for one another, and how our community embraces gender diversity. We want our laws to reflect our values,” Rep. Christina Sablan said. “Gender equality and the wellbeing of LGBTQ+ people in our community continue to be among our Health and Welfare Committee’s top priorities this term.”
The Health and Welfare Committee held public meetings on both bills and received written and oral comments in support of both bills, as well as supportive petitions signed by approximately 500 people. Health and Welfare Committee Chair Christina Sablan (D-2), the author of both bills, noted that the CNMI currently ranks among the lowest in the nation in terms of policies that protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination, harassment, and violence. House Bills 22-86 and 22-87 are products of meetings and discussions with LGBTQ+ advocates that began with last summer’s first legislative Pride Talks policy roundtable, hosted by the Health and Welfare Committee, House of Representatives, 22nd Northern Marianas Commonwealth Legislature.