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25 October 2011

Praise: All Children Matter Report

A report has just been published that looks in depth that the state of children in LGBTQ households.  This report is co-authored by The Movement Advancement Project (MAP),, The Family Equality Council,, and The Center for American Progress,

The findings are both heartening and give cause for concern.  From the key findings, I was surprised to learn that two million children are being raised in LGBTQ households.  Despite the myth of most gays being rich, these households are twice as likely to be poor as straight households.  In addition to being more diverse in terms of race and ancestry, the report indicates that LGBTQ households raising children exist in 96% of American counties.  Far more spread out than I anticipated.

The kids are doing well.  For this, I will quote the entire paragraph from the Executive Summary

Research uniformly shows positive outcomes for children in LGBT families. More than 30 years of rigorous social science research shows that children raised by LGBT parents are just as happy, healthy and well-adjusted as children raised by heterosexual parents. This is why every major authority on child health and welfare has determined that sexual orientation has nothing to do with the ability to be a good, effective parent.

This is worth repeating:   rigorous social science research shows that children raised by LGBT parents are just as happy, healthy and well-adjusted as children raised by heterosexual parents.  This is exactly the opposite of the anti-equality propaganda.

The report raises concerns about that are not a surprise.  We already knew that archaic and discriminatory laws, combined with social stigma, create obstacles to stable, loving homes; economic security; and health and well-being.

The full report details the legal and social challenges that LGBTQ families face.  The report also has recommendations on what to do next, none of which should be a surprise.  The following recommendations are what full equality would mean with specific details important for families with children.

Legally Recognize LGBT Families

1. Pass comprehensive parental recognition laws at the state level to fully protect children in LGBT families. State parentage and adoption statutes should allow joint adoption by LGBT parents, recognize LGBT parents using assisted reproduction in the same manner as heterosexual parents, and provide avenues such as second-parent adoption and de facto parenting to allow children to gain full legal ties to their parents.

2. Legalize and federally recognize marriage for same sex couples. Marriage for same-sex couples would help strengthen legal ties of the entire family, including those between a child’s parents and between the child and his or her parents. Married LGBT parents would be recognized as legal parents upon a child’s birth, and would also have access to joint and stepparent adoption. If recognized by the federal government, marriage would also allow accurate representation of LGBT families for the purposes of safety net programs, tax credits and deductions, inheritance and Social Security protections, immigration sponsorship and other benefits; and make it easier to obtain family health protections, including health insurance, medical decision-making, visitation and family leave.

3. Provide pathways to immigration and citizenship for binational LGBT families. This should include legislation such as the Uniting American Families Act, which would add the category “permanent partner” to the list of family members already entitled to sponsor a foreign national for U.S. immigration. Provide Equal Access to Government-Based Economic Protections

4. Recognize LGBT families and children across government safety net programs. Broadening the definition of “family” would allow LGBT families to accurately reflect their household across numerous government programs and protections. Forms and application procedures should also accommodate the reality of LGBT and other 21st century families.

5. Revise the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax code to provide equitable treatment for LGBT families. The IRS should create a “permanent partner” designation to identify a person who would be treated as a spouse for tax code purposes. The IRS should allow not just legal parents but also de facto parents to claim a “qualifying child” on their tax filing.

6. Provide equitable economic protections when a parent dies or is disabled. First, broaden Social Security’s definition of family to allow an LGBT worker’s permanent partner and children to access survivor and disability benefits in the same manner as a heterosexual worker’s spouse and children. Next, states should change inheritance laws to treat LGBT permanent partners as spouses, and ensure children can inherit from a de facto parent when the parent dies without a will. Last, states should permit the filing of a wrongful death suit by any individual who can show economic dependence on a deceased person. 

Provide Equal Access to Health Care

7. Advance equal access to health insurance and care. Pass laws ensuring that LGBT families have access to health insurance on equal terms with heterosexual families, including eliminating unfair taxation of these benefits. Encourage private employers to offer domestic partner benefits. Work to ensure the Affordable Care Act defines “family” broadly.

8. Enable LGBT family members to care for one another. Pass or revise state hospital visitation and medical decision-making laws to be inclusive of LGBT families and de facto parents. Work with hospitals and other medical facilities and providers to enact LGBT-friendly policies related to visitation, advanced healthcare directives and related issues. Revise the federal FMLA to allow same-sex partners to care for one another.

Protect LGBT Families with Anti-Discrimination Laws, Anti-Bullying Laws and Outreach

9. Pass state anti-bullying laws and laws barring discrimination in employment, adoption, custody and visitation, health services, housing and credit. Legislation prohibiting bullying and harassment in schools and universities should explicitly protect students based on their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and association with LGBT people. Non-discrimination laws should include similar protections.

10. Expand education and cultural competency training on LGBT families. Education and cultural competency training for a wide array of professionals should include outreach to adoption agencies and child welfare departments, judges and law students, government agency workers, health service providers, schools, and faith communities.

Provide Education and Services Support to Help LGBT Families

11. Create stronger support services for LGBT families, particularly families of color, low-income families and transgender parents. Advocates should target LGBT families with focused outreach and services, including opportunities to participate in social and support groups. Advocates should also educate LGBT families about the need to establish parentage ties and other legal protections, and provide assistance in doing so.

Expand Research on LGBT Families

12. Expand research on LGBT families and parenting, with an emphasis on filling gaps in data on families of color, low-income families and transgender parents. This should include lobbying for expanded private and government research and data on LGBT families and parenting in areas such as demographics, income, health and mental health.

It should not need to be said, but none of these twelve recommendations do any harm to any heterosexual families.  This is not a zero sum game.  These recommendations would see a more stable society with better conditions for all our children.

At this time, I have skimmed the full, 134 page, report.  (The quotes, above, are from the Executive Summary).  The full report includes details of the differences in expenses between opposite sex headed households and same sex headed households, details of what might comprise a family, information on extant laws, workplace conditions, and education conditions.  This looks like a great resource.

Thanks to the Huffington Post for the heads up.

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