Gay Married Couple, Denied IVF Coverage, Register Complaint Against NYC

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday April 13, 2022

A gay married couple in New York City have registered a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission because the city's employee health insurance would not cover IVF for them, according to the New York Times.

"The couple, Nicholas Maggipinto, 36, and Corey Briskin, 33, claim the policy discriminates against them based on their sex and sexual orientation and that if they were female or in a heterosexual relationship they would have access to the I.V.F. benefits that city employees are entitled to," the Times article detailed, adding that "Mr. Briskin was, until recently, an assistant district attorney."

Under the city's health insurance such coverage is offered for infertile city employees, the Times said, with infertility specified as "the inability to conceive after '12 months of unprotected intercourse,' or intrauterine insemination — a procedure that inserts sperm directly inside a uterus — for a period of time."

The article went on to add: "Intercourse is not defined in the policy, but the complaint claims New York City and its insurers 'have interpreted it to mean intercourse between a man and a female.'"

Those terms, the suit alleges, "effectively block[ed] them from receiving any I.V.F. insurance coverage."

Such stipulations are common, the article noted: "The written language of most mandates and insurance guidelines usually define infertility in heterosexual terms no matter employees' public or private sector status."

"It's mind blowing that in 2022 we're still having this conversation about a policy that so clearly excludes gay men because of horribly antiquated views of homosexuality," Briskin told the Times. "We got the ability to get married and the rest would have been kind of smooth sailing, but we were sorely mistaken."

Moreover, Briskin and Maggipinto maintain that "the policy reinforces the idea that gay men are not fit to be parents."

The couple's lawyer, Peter Romer-Friedman, said their complaint "was filed in anticipation of filing a class-action lawsuit."

"The couple estimated that the entire process, including the surrogate's fee and multiple rounds of I.V.F., could cost between $150,000 and $200,000," according to the Times.

Aside from the injustice of discriminatory treatment, "The other thing that we don't want to lose sight of is that we want to bring home a baby, and short of getting the benefit, we can't do that from a financial perspective," Maggipinto said. "We just don't have the money."

Betsy Campbell of advocacy group Resolve: The National Infertility Association, agreed that such requirements are discriminatory.

"I think there are a number of I.V.F. laws that still use a heteronormative definition of infertility that does discriminate against the L.G.B.T. community," she told the Times.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.