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All Children Matter: How Legal and Social Inequalities Hurt LGBT Families Presenters: Jennifer Chrisler Family Equality Council Ineke Mushovic, Movement.

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Presentation on theme: "All Children Matter: How Legal and Social Inequalities Hurt LGBT Families Presenters: Jennifer Chrisler Family Equality Council Ineke Mushovic, Movement."— Presentation transcript:

1 All Children Matter: How Legal and Social Inequalities Hurt LGBT Families Presenters: Jennifer Chrisler Family Equality Council Ineke Mushovic, Movement Advancement Project January 25, 2012

2 LGBT Families Are Part of the American Fabric 2 million 2 million children have LGBT parents 96%Live in 96% of U.S. counties Top 12 States Where Same-Sex Couples are Raising Children Source: Gary J. Gates and Abigail M. Cooke, Census 2010 Snapshot Series, The Williams Institute, 2011.

3 LGBT Families Represent All Walks of Life povertyLGBT families twice as likely to live in poverty diverseLGBT families are more racially/ethnically diverse Source: Randy Albelda, M. V. Lee Badget, Alyssa Schneebaum and Gary J. Gates, “Poverty in the Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Community,” The Williams Institute, Percent of Families Raising Children Who Live in Poverty

4 Bad Laws and Stigma Deny Children Their Basic Needs Stable, Loving Homes Physical & Mental Health Food, Shelter & Clothing OBSTACLES DENY CHILDREN BASIC NEEDS

5 Goal #1: Securing Stable, Loving Homes

6 Only 19 States Allow LGBT Parents to Secure Legal Ties to Their Children Other States With: Joint adoption Indiana, Maine Stepparent Adoption 2nd-Parent Adoption Colorado, Indiana, Maine & Pennsylvania Parental Presumption None J J J 2P Relationship Recognition States Joint Adoption, Stepparent/2nd Parent Adoption, Parental Presumption none

7 The “crossing-the-state-line” challenge May lack parenting laws such as: Even in Marriage States, Challenges Remain 2 nd parent adoption for unmarried couples Consent to inseminate statutes (only in WA, OR, NM and DC) De facto parenting laws (14 states have defensive custody statutes, only DE and WA have Surrogacy laws “proactive” statutes)

8 Adverse Consequences of Current Laws Deny forever homes to children awaiting adoption  115,000 children awaiting adoption from child welfare system Deny children the security of legal ties to parents  Children are legal strangers to a parent who loves and cares for them  Affects access to safety net programs, health insurance coverage, parental rights, survivor benefits, inheritance and more Denied stability and permanency  If parents’ relationship dissolves or parent dies, custody/visitation/child support may not be appropriately awarded Children may be wrested apart from the only parents they have ever known  Children live in fear of parent’s deportation

9 Goal #2: Ensuring Economic Security

10 $445 Billion Federal Spending on Children

11 Government-Based Economic Security Programs Definition of Family Impact on LGBT Families Safety Net Programs (Means-Tested) TANF (“welfare”) Medicaid & CHIP Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Education Loans & Grants Child Care Assistance Food Stamps (SNAP) Public Housing & Vouchers (Section 8) Family Tax Credits and Deductions Dependency exemption, child tax credit, EITC, child and dependent care credit, education deductions, etc. Economic Protections when Parent Dies/ Becomes Disabled Social Security Disability & Survivor (OASDI) Inheritance Wrongful Death Government Programs & LGBT Families

12 Adverse Consequences of Current Laws Reduces economic security of LGBT families  Children fall through the safety net; denied financial, scholastic and other aid  Eligibility based on family composition, not need and resources Higher tax burden for LGBT Families  LGBT families excluded from tax credits and deductions intended to ease the cost of raising a family  Often unable to file a joint tax return or to claim a qualifying child  LGBT families can lose thousands each year Children not financially protected if parent dies or becomes disabled  Children in LGBT families denied: Social Security survivors & disability benefits Inheritance from an non-legally recognized parent Ability to sue for wrongful death

13 Goal #3: Ensuring Health and Well-Being

14 not requiredEmployers not required to offer benefits to domestic partners or non- recognized children taxationAdditional taxation when benefits received Unequal Access to Health Insurance Percent of Adults with Health Insurance

15 hostileH ealth care professionals may be hostile, lack cultural competency. Some refuse to treat LGBT people Hospital visitation Hospital visitation doesn’t extend to non-recognized parents Medical decision-making Medical decision-making may be denied to non-recognized parents FMLA FMLA allows leave to care for children but not for parents to care for each other Harder for Families to Take Care of Each Other

16 Adverse Consequences of Current Laws Denied health insurance and competent care  May not have health insurance, or may pay much more Harder for families to take care of each other  Children and parents denied recognition, access, and decision-making authority during medical emergencies  Parents unable to use leave to care for each other Hostility in schools, community, etc.  Lack of non-discrimination and anti-bullying protections affects daily life

17 Putting it all Together … Stable, Loving Homes Physical & Mental Health Food, Shelter & Clothing

18 A Story of Two American Families Household income of $45,000 with one primary breadwinner Have 2 children via donor insemination Household income of $45,000 with one primary breadwinner Have 2 children via donor insemination Both parents are the legal parents and are listed on birth certificate Entire family receives health insurance through Darren’s employer Jennifer is a legal stranger to her children and has no parental rights Jennifer’s job won’t cover her family; family buys insurance ($3,105/yr) Darren & Angela Jennifer & Katie Send children to three-day- per-week child care Family uses child care tax credit, reducing taxes by $2,215/yr Jennifer pays for child care, but cannot claim tax credit

19 Darren consents to medical care and can stay with child Jennifer has to wait for Katie to arrive; cannot consent to care since not carrying paperwork Darren & Angela Jennifer & Katie Child breaks arm Children enter elementary school Welcoming teachers; Angela serves on PTA Darren’s assets go to Angela; family receives Social Security survivor benefits ($27,936/year) Hostile administ- ration and teachers refuse to address bullying Angela and children receive nothing from Jennifer’s family; lose home and savings; no Social Security survivor benefits Darren and Jennifer suddenly pass away Adequate income Sufficient savings Keep home Have community support Bottom Line No income No savings No home No community support $219,262 in extra financial burden (health insurance costs, lost tax credits, lost OASDI benefits) A Story of Two American Families

20 Solutions

21 Solutions: Legally Recognize LGBT Families 1.Pass comprehensive parental recognition laws Joint adoption, foster care, donor insemination, stepparent adoption, second-parent adoption and de facto parenting 2.Legally and federally recognize marriage for same-sex couples Helps equalize access to safety net programs, household taxation, inheritance, immigration sponsorship, health insurance and more 3.Provide pathways to immigration/citizenship for binational LGBT families

22 4.Recognize LGBT families across government safety net programs Use existing models (such as those found in SNAP, public housing) to broaden definitions of family 5.Revise IRS tax code to provide equal treatment for LGBT families Create a “permanent partner” designation for a person who will be treated as a spouse for tax purposes Allow acting parents to claim “qualifying children” 6.Provide equitable economic protections when a parent dies or is disabled Broaden OASDI’s definition of family Update inheritance and wrongful death laws Solutions: Equal Access to Gov’t Economic Protections

23 7.Advance equal access to health insurance and care Eliminate unfair taxation on domestic partner/family benefits Define family broadly in Affordable Care Act 8.Enable LGBT family members to care for one another Revise hospital visitation and medical decision-making laws to include LGBT parents Revise FMLA to cover same-sex partners Solutions: Equal Access to Health Care Other Solutions 9.Pass anti-bullying and anti-discrimination laws 10.Expand cultural competency training on LGBT families 11.Strengthen support services for LGBT families 12.Expand research on LGBT families

24 Continue the Conversation Community Convening/Brown Bags/Dialogues Share Reports Benchmarking & Evaluation Amend proposal/evaluation processes Include LGBT families as target population Require documentation of service levels and outreach to LGBT families alongside other diverse populations Funding Pilot projects and research to determine unmet needs and service gaps Education/training for child and family service providers Schools, Foster Care/Adoption Agencies, Legal Services LGBT-family inclusive programming Outreach to families of color, low income, rural communities Funder Suggestions


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