A federal court in Pennsylvania sided with the city of Philadelphia, saying that the city had the right to terminate a foster care agency’s contract after it refused to place children with same-sex couples. In March, Philadelphia stopped referring children to two foster care providers after learning that they had refused to license same-sex couples to be foster parents. Catholic Social Services (CSS) sued the city, arguing that its right to free exercise of religion and free speech were being violated.
“First and foremost, this is a victory for children in Philadelphia who need a loving home and can’t afford to have good families turned away for failing to meet a religious litmus test,” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania. “We’re proud that the city is committed to ensuring that no qualified family that comes forward to care for a child in need is turned away because of their sexual orientation or other reasons unrelated to the ability to care for a child. And we’re thrilled that the court rejected the claimed constitutional right to discriminate against loving families.”
Several states have passed laws allowing adoption and foster care agencies to refuse gay couples, including Alabama, Michigan, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Oklahoma and Kansas.
Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee have tacked an anti-LGBT amendment onto a funding bill, and activists are calling it a “license to discriminate” against same-sex couples who want to become parents. It’s not out of question that Republicans would actually pass a law like the one proposed. Oklahoma and Kansas passed laws this year at the state level that let welfare agencies discriminate against same-sex couples who want to foster or adopt children. In fact, seven states have already passed such legislation, allowing discrimination even when an agency is funded with taxpayer money.
Many anti-LGBT religious groups operate foster-adoption agencies and insist LGBT people are a moral danger to children. Should the bill win approval with the amendment attached, it would allow those child welfare agencies that receive government funds the option to turn away prospective parents by citing religious beliefs.
Welfare agencies already experience huge obstacles in placing children with prospective parents, with their biggest issue being the challenge to find prospective parents who are qualified. This amendment would lessen the already small pool of qualified prospective parents. Approximately 2 million LGBT Americans are interested in adoption, according to the Human Rights Campaign, and should the proposed amendment become law, this population will remain an untapped resource.
Michael Carroll Quinton returned to his home in Jefferson County, Tennessee to find his family car destroyed. In response to having been contacted about the act, the City office in his small town told him detectives “may have a case load.” This is the nightmare of every LGBT parent, and now Michael’s doing what every good parent would do – he’s being strong for his two young sons.
Michael’s insurance company decided the car is totaled at $14,000 and the balance with the car’s finance company is $5,000. The family will be struggling to get another vehicle along getting some other debts.
For many of us, Justice Kennedy’s announcement that he is retiring from the U.S. Supreme Court created anxiety. It left many LGBTQ people wondering: what does this mean for my marriage and my family? Are the advances we’ve made toward equality in jeopardy? Justice Kennedy’s retirement at this juncture is cause for great concern.
It is extremely unlikely that the Supreme Court will overturn any of the landmark LGBTQ equality cases in the foreseeable future. There is a high bar for the Supreme Court to reverse itself, and it is unlikely that the Court will do so anytime soon given how recently the cases were decided and the growing public acceptance and support of marriage equality and LGBTQ people. Moreover, with Kennedy gone, it now seems likely that Chief Justice John Roberts is the Court’s new swing vote, and a quick reversal of a landmark case like Obergefell resulting from Trump filling a vacancy on the Court would fly in the face of the Chief Justice’s repeated commitments to avoid the appearance of political partisanship on the Court or readily rejecting established precedent. This view is reinforced by Chief Justice Roberts’ choice to not join the dissent led by Justice Gorsuch in Pavan v. Smith last year, a case from Arkansas that the Supreme Court used to summarily reinforce the core holding of Obergefell — that states must treat married same-sex couples same way as other married couples.
However, you don’t have to overturn Obergefell to undermine equality and make the underlying rights inaccessible to LGBTQ people and their children. And, to be clear, that is the far-right conservative movement’s strategy, which already is underway. As we recently highlighted in our report, Putting Children at Risk: How Efforts to Undermine Marriage Equality Harm Children (coauthored with Movement Advancement Project), the freedom to marry brought with it a whole host of rights, benefits, and responsibilities that gave same-sex couples increased security and protections such as access to healthcare benefits, social security benefits, inheritance rights, recognition of both parents on the birth certificate, access to confirmatory adoption nationwide, and the ability to jointly adopt a child as a married couple. As outlined in our report, the ongoing attacks on marriage equality by states through their rejection of equal treatment of same-sex spouses and efforts to create religiousCall your Senators TODAY and tell them to oppose any of the nominees on Trump’s list of conservative nominees and demand that they only confirm an independent and fair-minded person without political or ideological motivations and who will uphold the protections and values enshrined in the Constitution. exemptions to marriage, adoption and foster care, and nondiscrimination protections pose a significant harm to LGBTQ people, our families, and our children.
There are several cases attempting to chip away at marriage and LGBTQ equality, or cases challenging attempts to do so, already in the pipeline. And, a Supreme Court with a shift to the right will be far less likely to reject discrimination toward LGBTQ people in any form and more likely to give a license to discriminate to those who object to same-sex marriages (e.g., business owners, health care providers, adoption agencies), rendering our marriages less equal to those of different-sex couples as a practical matter. Our community has an enormous amount at stake.
There is no doubt that we will have to fight hard. But this is a battle we can win. Here are five steps you can take:
Call your Senators TODAY and tell them to oppose any of the nominees on Trump’s list of conservative nominees and demand that they only confirm an independent and fair-minded person without political or ideological motivations and who will uphold the protections and values enshrined in the Constitution.
If one or more of your Senators is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, tell them that each candidate’s commitment to upholding the Court’s precedent and the protections and values enshrined in the Constitution should be fully vetted.
Visit your Senator’s district office THIS WEEK to tell them how you feel during the #SaveSCOTUS Week of Action.
VOTE in November and help with get out the vote (GOTV) efforts. And, let your Senators know that you will be doing so, and that this issue is a top priority for you. Make your voice heard at the ballot box.
Take steps to protect your relationships, your wishes, and your family. If you have children, make sure that both parents’ rights are legally recognized (through a confirmatory adoption or court order). Do estate planning to protect your wishes, your family, and your children (wills, trusts, durable power of attorney, and an advanced directive).
Together, we can #SaveSCOTUS and protect our relationships and our families. We are committed to the fight, but we need YOU!
By Shelbi Day, Senior Policy Counsel & Denise Brogan-Kator, Chief Policy Officer, Family Equality Council
Volvo is the latest company to show support for the LGBTQ community. The car company has teamed with London’s Westfield shopping center to highlight LGBTQ representation in family parking areas. The new parking spots feature same-sex couples with children, single parents, elderly, disabled, and nuclear families. These new spots are part of a venture for Volvo as they promote their new V60 vehicle that they are calling “The New Family Model” launching on July 9th.
Marketing Strategy Director of Volvo Car UK, Mike Johnstone said, “The introduction of the new V60 gives us the ideal opportunity to celebrate the modern family in all its guises. As the contemporary iteration of our mid-size family estate, the V60 perfectly reflects our human-centric approach to car design which aims to make its owners’ lives easier and safer.”
Watch this commercial that will air next week as the car is announced:
According to the advertising company Grey London, “65% of U.K. families are non-traditional. But the family iconography we see every day still doesn’t reflect this. To launch Volvo’s ultimate family car, the new V60, we wanted to represent families of all kinds. The Volvo Family Icons are a celebration of the broad spectrum of diverse families living in the UK today.”
I remember when I was that small I had a hard time relaxing because not every family was structured the same way as mine. I didn’t know having two dads or two moms could be seen as “weird” or “different”.
My advice would be to tell her or him that you should be proud of your family, not ashamed. You shouldn’t be scared about what your friends, teachers or coaches will think. You have such an amazing family and you are sooooo lucky. When you do have questions – and you will – just ask your parents. They should explain everything.
You don’t have to go through your questions alone. My advice to the parents would be not hide anything from your kid(s). If they have questions about their birth, or parents who aren’t present in their world – answer them – because if you hide something they can tell and secrets could lead to your children believing their family isn’t as beautiful as it is.
Panic! at the Disco, a critically-acclaimed rock band fronted by Brendon Urie, announced a new alliance in support of the creation of student-led Gender & Sexuality/Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) clubs in every high school across America, to support LGBTQ youth and advocate for inclusive schools.
To help realize this goal, Brendon Urie has pledged a one million dollar gift to GLSEN to provide resources, training, and support to students working to create student-led GSA clubs in their K-12 schools, through his Highest Hopes Foundation. Launched this week, Urie founded the Highest Hopes Foundation to support the efforts of non-profit organizations that lead, develop, and advocate support for human rights for all people and communities subject to discrimination or abuse on the basis of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity. GLSEN is the foundation’s first beneficiary, with more to follow.
“For years my fans have inspired me with their determination and creativity as they have created a safe and inclusive community,” said Brendon Urie. “I felt the time had come for me to join them boldly, to bring that energy and power to bear on the huge challenges facing our whole society. Launching the Highest Hopes Foundation with GLSEN as our first cause feels natural to the DNA of P!ATD, I am beyond excited to see what we can do together. Some of the most inspiring leaders out there right now have come from GSAs. Working firsthand with GLSEN, student leaders everywhere, and all my fans, I want to make sure that every one of our future leaders out there has the support they need to form their own GSA and begin their work to make a better world.”
Ohio conservatives are promoting a bill that would require teachers and others to disclose any incidents of a child demonstrating “a desire to be treated in a manner opposite the child’s biological sex” or exhibiting any signs of gender dysphoria.
House Bill 558 would make it a fourth-degree felony if any “government entity” – including schools – provided any treatment without consent of parents or guardians. Treatment is defined broadly, covering everything from therapy to educational materials. A fourth degree felony in Ohio would have a sentence range of 6 to 18 months in prison, and is on the same level as unlawful sexual conduct with a minor and grand theft of a motor vehicle.
Transgender activists in Ohio are working hard to lobby against the bill.
The state policing of behavior opens a can of worms, states Equality Ohio in a release on their website. “Who is the judge of which gender is allowed to do what? If Jane signs up for shop class, will her parents receive a government letter? If Jordan doesn’t want to play football, do his parents get a letter? What if Alex wants to attend a meeting of the student LGBTQ group – does the school email that to Alex’s parents?”
Olympic diver Tom Daley and film producer Dustin Lance Black have announced that their son Robert Ray was born this week in the US – via surrogate. The family lives in London – and married in May, 2017.
“Welcome to the world our precious little Robbie Ray Black-Daley. The most magical moment of my life,” Tom wrote on Instagram alongside a black and white show of the tiny tot’s feet. “The amount of love and joy you have brought into our life is immeasurable. Our precious son.”
Tom said both provided sperm to fertilize the donated eggs but they did not wish to know who the biological father of their son was.
“We found an egg donor and we are the sperm donors, we have fertilized half the eggs each. We put in a boy embryo and a girl embryo and we don’t know whose is whose. The next time we will do it the other way around.”
Dustin previously admitted that he was upset by the reaction to news of their surrogacy from people in the UK and said that the public in the US had been much more supportive.
He explained: “In the US, where we’ve been working with our surrogate, the reception was incredibly warm, with almost no exception. But in the UK, we heard things that weren’t so friendly. Maybe because there are misconceptions about surrogacy here.”
Tom Daley is a British diver. He specializes in the 10-meter platform event and is a double World Champion in the event; he won the 2009 FINA World Championship in the individual event at the age of 15, before regaining it in 2017. He was the 2012 Olympic bronze medalist in the event.
Dustin Lance Black is a screenwriter, director, film and television producer. He grew up in a Mormon household, first in San Antonio, Texas, and later Salinas, California. Dustin won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay in 2008, for Milk.