Tag: year

2020 LGBTQ Parenting Year in Review

2020 LGBTQ Parenting Year in Review

In a year like no other, LGBTQ families, like all others, struggled with the physical, mental, and economic challenges of the pandemic. And with children of LGBTQ parents much more likely to live in poverty than those with non-LGBTQ parents, the pandemic may have hit many LGBTQ families, like those of other marginalized groups, particularly hard. Pandemic aside, there were many political and legal challenges—and a few victories—directly related to LGBTQ parents and our children this year. Here are the highlights, good and bad.

2020

The Trump Administration

In May, National Foster Care Month, the Trump administration stopped collecting data on the sexual orientation of youth in foster care and of foster and adoptive parents. The data is used to make decisions and track outcomes for youth in care.

The administration in June finalized a rule that says health care anti-discrimination protections do not cover discrimination based on LGBTQ identities.

In December, it finalized a rule that will allow federal contractors to cite religious or moral beliefs as a reason to discriminate against LGBTQ workers.

On the positive side, the U.S. State Department in October backed down in two cases where it had been denying the citizenship of children born abroad to married two-dad couples who were U.S. citizens. Two other similar cases are still pending.

The Biden Administration

The Biden administration has promised to push for Congress to pass the Equality Act during his first 100 days in office, and to reverse Trump’s anti-LGBTQ actions.

Additionally, two lesbian moms of color in November were named to Joe Biden’s all-women White House communications team. Karine Jean-Pierre, who was senior advisor to President-Elect Biden and chief of staff to Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris during the campaign, will become principal deputy press secretary. Pili Tobar, who was the communications director for coalitions on the campaign, will become deputy White House communications director. And in December, two gay dads were also appointed: Guatan Raghavan, deputy head of presidential appointments for the Biden-Harris transition team, will become deputy director of the Office of Presidential Personnel, and Stuart Delery, who was acting associate attorney general of the United States in the Obama administration, will become deputy counsel to the president.

The U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court surprised many in June with a landmark 6-3 ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, written by Trump appointee Neil Gorsuch, stating that people cannot be fired from their jobs because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Supreme Court in December refused to hear an appeal in Box v. Henderson, in which Indiana was trying to deny nonbiological mothers in married same-sex couples the right to be put on their children’s birth certificates. A 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision in January said the state must allow nonbiological mothers to be on the birth certificates; the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the case means that decision stands.

In July, the court upheld the Trump administration’s desire to allow almost any employer, even for-profit ones, to cite religious or moral beliefs as a reason to refuse to cover birth control for its employees. This is a queer issue because many LGBTQ people do have sex that can result in pregnancy and because birth control is sometimes used in fertility procedures even for same-sex couples (as was the case for my spouse and me).

The court in November heard Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, a case to determine whether taxpayer-funded foster care and adoption agencies—and possibly any provider of government-contracted services—can cite religious beliefs as a reason to discriminate against LGBTQ people and others.

The court in December declined an appeal from Oregon parents who sought to prevent transgender students from using bathrooms and locker rooms aligned with their gender identities.

State Happenings

New Jersey in January enacted a law allowing married/civil unioned LGBTQ couples using assisted reproduction to avoid the intrusive, expensive, second-parent adoption process and simply file a few documents in order to get a court judgment confirming the nonbiological parent’s legal parentage.

In July, New Hampshire enacted a law clarifying that LGBTQ couples have access to second-parent adoptions but do not need home studies; expanding access to adoption by unmarried couples; and updating the state’s parentage laws in gender-neutral and inclusive terms.

The same month, Rhode Island also updated its parentage laws to provide stronger, more equitable protections for families formed via assisted reproduction. Among other things, parents using assisted reproduction can now establish legal parentage for the nonbiological or nongestational parent simply by filling out a simple, free a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage form.

A South Carolina law banning any discussion of same-sex relationships in public school health classes (except in the context of sexually transmitted diseases) is unconstitutional, a federal district court said in March.

The State of New York passed the Child-Parent Security Act in April, legalizing gestational surrogacy and simplifying and strengthening the laws recognizing nonbiological parents and single parents in all families formed through reproductive technologies.

The Kansas Supreme Court ruled in November that nonbiological mothers may be recognized as parents simply by acknowledging maternity at the time a child is born and showing that the birth mother consented to shared parenting.

Addressing Systemic Racism

The widespread attention to addressing systemic racism, sparked by the tragic killing of George Floyd in May, is as much an issue for LGBTQ families as for any others. Not only do we come in all colors, but Black and Latino same-sex couples are roughly twice as likely as White same-sex couples to be raising a child, according to UCLA’s Williams Institute. And 50 percent of children under 18 living with same-sex couples are non-White compared to 41 percent of children living with different-sex couples. (Statistics were not available for other LGBTQ identities) The numbers underscore just how many LGBTQ families are impacted by ongoing racism in our country, and one of the reasons that actively working to stop it remains a task for us all in the coming year.

Originally published with slight variation as my Mombian newspaper column.

Five trips you can take to mark Thanksgiving this year / GayCities Blog

Five trips you can take to mark Thanksgiving this year

(Photo: Shutterstock)

Thanksgiving, like the rest of the 2020 holiday season, is going to be very different this year. Everyone is encouraged to do as little traveling as possible to help slow the spread of coronavirus. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t take a virtual journey or enjoy a local beauty spot. Here are five suggestions for how to take your mind away from home.

Head for an outdoor gay hangout with a friend for a picnic

If you’re blessed to live somewhere like Miami, spending a few hours on the gay beach at 12th Street (on South Beach) is a low-risk way of marking Thanksgiving – and plenty of local restaurants are serving takeaway orders.

San Francisco’s Dolores Park offers a gay ‘urban beach’ in its southwest section, while Rehoboth Beach in Delaware offers its LGBTQ-friendly ‘Poodle Beach’ section. If there’s no gay outdoors hangout nearby, pick a local beauty spot you’ve not visited before, or try to hunt down some stunning fall scenery. Keep a social distance if heading out with a friend from a different household and respect local COVID prevention measures.

Immerse yourself in a travel book by a gay writer

Calum McSwiggan and his travel memoir: Eat, Gay, Love
Calum McSwiggan and his travel memoir: Eat, Gay, Love (Photo: Twitter)

Check out The Black Penguin by Andrew Evans, in which the author travels from Washington DC to Antarctica, largely by bus, and comes out to his Mormon family in the process. Tim Anderson’s acclaimed Tune in Tokyo: The Gaijin Diaries, follows the US writer’s time in Asia. British broadcaster Sue Perkins, of The Great British Baking Show fame, has published East of Croydon: Travels through India and South East Asia, while Eat, Gay, Love is a new travel memoir by fellow Brit, Calum McSwiggan (above).

Enjoy a classic, queer road-trip movie

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

The queer road trip movie has become its own sub-genre, with such journeys offering plenty of opportunity for personal development, drama, intrigue and romance. Classics include The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994), in which three drag queens cross the Australian outback. Felicity Huffman was Oscar-nominated for her role in Transamerica (2005), in which she plays a trans woman on a journey to meet the son she never knew she had. Director Gregg Araki’s The Living End (1992) has been described as a gay Thelma and Louise, in which two young, HIV-positive men hit the road after one kills a homophobic police officer.

Related: 10 awesome queer road trip flicks to inspire your future travel fantasies

Join a virtual tour

Michael Venturiello of Christopher Street Tours offers gay bar history lessons online via Airbnb
Michael Venturiello of Christopher Street Tours offers gay bar history lessons online via Airbnb (Photo: Airbnb)

Both Airbnb and Amazon Explore (in beta testing in North America), now offer a wide range of virtual tours. On Airbnb, join a drag queen cocktail masterclass courtesy of ‘Sangria and Secrets with Drag Queens’, educate yourself on how to make pasta with Italian chefs, learn to sing a festive song with a Broadway performer, or enjoy a virtual tour and history lesson about some of New York’s most famed gay bars.

There are now literally hundreds of experiences to choose from – with YouTube also offering a huge array of far-flung walking tours and cookery lessons.

Start planning your next vacation on Black Friday

(Photo: Jacek Dylag on Unsplash)

Lastly, although travel options are limited right now, that doesn’t mean you can’t start planning a trip for next year. Airlines are offering some of their cheapest deals as they try to tempt travelers back, and many are going even lower with their Black Friday deals.

It’s now widely expected that coronavirus vaccines will be rolled out during the first half of 2021, so don’t expect these cheap deals to last forever. You could book yourself a bargain getaway if you act now.

Finding Things to Be Thankful for in a Very Strange Year

Finding Things to Be Thankful for in a Very Strange

As Thanksgiving approaches this year, I am thankful for many things—and not only that I’ve finally learned to make a decent pie crust.

Pumpkin pie

The prospect of another four years under a Trump administration is fading into the distance. The Biden administration looks set to support LGBTQ equality and to take steps towards addressing many of the other structural inequalities of our nation. Whether they will make good on their promises remains to be seen, but Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, too, seem to possess a compassion for their fellow humans that is sorely lacking in the current resident of the Oval Office.

I am thankful, therefore, that my son will come to adulthood in a country that he can once again be proud of. There is still work to do to accomplish a better vision, of course. A runoff election in Georgia this January will determine control of the U.S. Senate. A U.S. Supreme Court with a conservative majority is even now deciding cases that affect LGBTQ lives, including one that could legitimize discrimination against LGBTQ people and others in foster care and adoption and potentially other public services as well. A new administration, no matter how competent and well-intentioned, will not make all our societal problems vanish like pumpkin pie from our plates. It will take time for us to overcome deep-rooted, systemic injustices, and we also have a pandemic to defeat, a climate to save, and an economy to bolster, all in a country that remains deeply divided.

There are signs of hope even now, though. At the end of October, even before the election, the U.S. State Department backed down in two cases where it had been challenging the citizenship of children born abroad to married two-dad couples who were U.S. citizens. Two federal district courts then ruled conclusively in the families’ favor. The State Department had appealed in one case, but then withdrew the appeal and said it would not appeal the other.

And in Kansas, where Donald Trump beat Joe Biden by more than 15 points, the state Supreme Court ruled recently that nonbiological mothers in same-sex couples may be recognized as parents simply by acknowledging maternity at the time a child is born and showing that the birth mother consented to shared parenting. It’s a ruling in line with how paternity is recognized for different-sex couples and gives me hope for further expansion of such rulings even in largely conservative states. (Having said that, second-parent adoptions or court orders of parentage are still currently recommended by LGBTQ legal experts as the most ironclad way of ensuring parental rights, especially when traveling.)

In the election, too, LGBTQ people, women, and people of color had record-setting wins across the country. Representation matters—and that’s why Biden’s promise in his victory speech, to create an administration that looks like America, is so very important. Our children should see leaders who reflect the diversity of our country.

I’m thankful for all of that as we head into a Thanksgiving that will not look or feel like any other we’ve ever had. The pandemic has taken over 1.3 million lives worldwide and nearly a quarter of a million in the U.S. alone. It has disrupted jobs, schools, and much of our daily lives. Its long shadow remains over us as we gather this year for our meals, either virtually or with a few carefully screened people in person.

I think we LGBTQ parents and our children have one advantage in this, though. We’ve long made up our own traditions and created our own celebrations. Doing things a little differently this year shouldn’t phase us. Yes, some of us will miss seeing relatives and friends in person or eating Grandpa’s sweet potato casserole. For others, however, it may be a relief not having to pile the kids into the car and drive three hours to sit through dinner with relatives who still don’t accept us for who we are, or with a cousin who thinks Trump really won the election. Regardless, I hope we can each find ways to make the holiday meaningful for us—or to confidently ignore it and substitute a different family activity or meal if that feels better this year.

For myself, I am thankful that my spouse, our son, and I have been able to live with each other in fairly constant proximity since March without getting on each other’s nerves (too much). I am glad to have the holiday as a chance to celebrate getting through this very strange year. I know, we still have a month to go, but as a family that observes both Hanukkah and Christmas, we pretty much party from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. It’s one big season that kicks off now.

I am also thankful for all of you who may read this column, and wish you strength and love no matter how or whether you are celebrating. Rejoice in your loved ones as we all face the future together.


Originally published as my Mombian newspaper column.

Back to school – Year Four

Back to school - Year Four

As we approach the October half term break I thought it was time to write the yearly back to school post. I wanted our little dude to settle into the new year before I wrote my post, just in case we were thrown back into a national lockdown out of no where. Thankfully our little dude has managed to stay in his bubble at school with no lockdowns.

The home learning during lockdown didn’t seem to have any negative effects on the levels M was at before the lockdown. So that is a little parenting win. I will be honest trying to keep him learning whilst we both still worked from home was tricky. But credit to him, he worked hard and kept himself at a very good level of learning.

SMILE YEAR 4

Year four seems to be the year where the work/play balance truly shifts. Each day M comes out with another tale of subjects he has been tackling. French, religious studies, math math and more math (his words). It is also the year we have started to cycle home from school. M has approached this with a fantastic attitude and has persevered through rain storms and windy afternoons.

First day
MUMMY AND YEAR 4

The little dude is still set on being a Marine Biologist once he leaves education, so we’ve told him he needs to make sure he always pays attention at school, especially maths and science. He is a little sponge when it comes to facts and is a great fountain of knowledge when it comes to sea creatures, fossils and gem stones.

YEAR 4 SMART
CYCLE YEAR 4

I know he is really looking forward to half term as this year he gets to spend it with Clara, now that she is a teacher. Also there is something about autumn and darker afternoons that causes tiredness in the house. So a rest is definitely due!

I am really looking forward to the growth M is going to go through over the next school year.

You’re invited to the biggest, queerest wedding of the year

You're invited to the biggest, queerest wedding of the year

You’re invited to the biggest, queerest wedding of the year