Tuesday, January 21, 2014

State of the Union for Straight Parents


All parents worry about their children, but those of LGBT kids, fret perhaps more so.  Often, their children are regarded as inferior by heterosexuals.

However, parents, knowing that great strides were made last year for same-sex equality, should rest better at night.

Some of the accomplishments of 2013 helped advance marriage benefits, adoptions, representation in the Legislature, discrimination, safety in schools, and recognition by President Obama in the name of equality for the LGBT U.S. population.

Safety in Schools for Harassed LGBT Students

The Safe Schools Improvement Act, a bill to amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of  ’65, addresses and takes action to prevent bullying and harassment. It was referred to a Congressional Committee on February 28, 2013 and has reached record support in Congress, with 176 bipartisan co-sponsors in the House and 43 bipartisan cosponsors in the Senate, including more Republican cosponsors than any other LGBT-inclusive bill.

GLSEN, (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network), has addressed safety issues in middle and high schools and has distributed 63,000 safe space kits to schools. It works with elementary schools as well by supplying materials for supporting LGBT students.

Will Your Children Get A Fair Shake In The Job Market?

Worried about discrimination in the workplace for your child?  The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (S.815) passed the Senate on November 7, 2013 with bipartisan support.  The bill, prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation on gender identity, is waiting on House passage and signature of President Obama.

Passed by President Obama 10-28-09, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, expands the 1969 U.S federal hate-crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

Majority of Americans Approve of Same-Sex Marriage

The tide is turning!  ABCNews/Washington Polls found that in July 2013 that 55% of Americans said they supported the right of same-sex couples to marry.

While your son or daughter can’t marry wherever they wish, did you ever dream that there would be seventeen states that allow gay marriage: 6 by court decision (California, Connecticut, Iowa, Masschusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico), 8 by state legislature (Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois (in effect June 2014), Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont,  and 3 by popular vote (Maine, Maryland,, and Washington)? There will be more states as lawsuits for marriage equality are cropping up frequently in other states.

You Will Have Grandchildren

Worried you won’t have grandchildren? In 2012, 110, 000 adopted children lived with gay parents.  Over the years, the number of children has risen tremendously.  So far, 16 states allow joint gay adoptions (when a same-sex couple jointly petitions for adoption): Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.

Second parent adoption (1 person adopts the child of his partner) occurs in: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont.

Definition of Marriage Changed

The biggest news of 2013 was the U.S. Supreme Court decision rulings on June 26th that struck down California’s Proposition 8 that prohibited same-sex marriage as well as Section 3 of The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that defined marriage as between a man and a woman. This resulted in a landslide of actions federally and in U.S. states with same-sex marriage such as the The Family Medical Leave Act, Social Security Administration treatment of same-sex benefits for couples, Department of Defense’s recognition of military dependents including same-sex spouses and their children, Department of Education’s determination to include income from both same-sex parents, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) permitting joint federal tax filing, same-sex couples being allowed to qualify for a green card, and The Peace Corps’  allowing same-sex domestic partners to serve together, determination that same-sex married couples receive equal treatment regarding skilled nursing facilities.

On Your Side

The 113th Congress ushered in an unprecedented diversity and number of new LGBT reps., nearly tripling the House LGBT Equality Caucus Co-chairs.  Firsts in Congress:  First openly gay senator was Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin. Rep. Mark Pocan  (D-WI) was the first openly gay U.S. rep. to replace an openly gay immediate predecessor, Mark Tokano (D-CA), first openly LGBT Asian-American Rep.). New York has the first openly gay Rep. (D-NY) Sean Patrick Murphy and Kristen Simena (D-AZ) was the nation’s first openly bi-sexual, nation’s first in Congress. 

President Obama acknowledged the contributions of gay men and women by giving posthumously The Presidential Citizen Medal, the second highest civilian honor in the United States to the founder of PFLAG (Parents of Lesbians and Gays) Jeanne Manford, the straight mother of a gay son.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom was also given posthumously to gay Bayard Rustin, the chief architect of the March on Washington in 1963 where The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have A Dream” speech, and the first American female astronaut and lesbian Sally Ride. Rustin’s and Ride’s partners accepted the awards - also a first time that partners of recipients accepted prestigious awards from a President.