Category Archives: Marriage Equality

Legal advice for LGBTQ families post-election

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Legal advice for LGBTQ families post-election

The information in this post is also available as a PDF.

Most of us are worried about the future of our families, communities and country. Now more than ever we need our LGBTQ family community. Our Family Coalition remains a strong voice for LGBTQ caregivers in California and we will continue to advocate for the rights of our families.

What does this mean for parental rights?
We cannot say this enough: it is highly recommended that non-biological parents complete a second-parent adoption or parentage judgement. Being on the birth certificate or being married to the child’s biological and/or legal parent does not ensure parental rights. By completing a second-parent adoption the parental legal relationship is secured in states outside of California. We understand that this process can be expensive for working class families and encourage you to contact the National Center for Lesbian Rights for referrals to attorneys who may be able to offer pro bono services and/or reduced fees to those who may qualify.

What does this mean for trans parents?
The federal rights of transgender students and employees should remain secure as those are based on federal statutes and the U.S. Constitution. It is recommended to get your ID documents updated while choosing your gender marker is an option. This includes passport, state ID, social security.
What does this mean for healthcare?
While it is not yet clear what will happen with the Affordable Care Act, any changes will take time. Check to see where your insurance plan is from and if it is covered by the Affordable Care Act and if any LGBT provisions may be affected.

How will the election affect undocumented immigrant people & families?
We encourage folks to contact a legal services provider to be screened for any possible immigration options immediately. The Immigration Advocates Network maintains a national directory of more than 950 free or low-cost nonprofit immigration services providers in all 50 states. We are also collecting stories of LGBTQ immigrant families who may wish to support advocacy campaigns. Please email policy@ourfamily.org if interested in participating.

What does this mean for marriage rights?
It is highly unlikely that marriage equality will be overturned. The process would take years and include replacing several Supreme Court judges and working a case through the Supreme Court. It is also very unlikely that married couples would see their marriages overturned. The law has strong protections against valid marriages being invalidated by subsequent changes law. “For individuals who are not currently married but who may wish to marry in the future, it is also highly unlikely that the fundamental right of same-sex couples to marry will be challenged or that the Supreme Court would revisit its 2015 holding that same-sex couples have that fundamental right.” We highly recommend anyone who counters any problem with your marriage being fully respected to contact our partners at the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

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Our Family Coalition hosted a LGBTQ Family Post-Election Community Call on 12/8, answering questions from the community on LGBTQ family issues including marriage, adoption, immigration, and gender and name changes. A huge thanks to our amazing legal partners Chelsea E. HaleyNelson, partner at HaleyNelson & Heilbrun, LLP, Ora Prochovnick, Director of Clinical and Public Interest Law Programs and professor of law at John F. Kennedy University, and Charlie Spiegel, www.CharlesSpiegelLaw.com, for being present on the call.

Download an audio recording of the conference call here (unedited): MP3, WAV

OFC in-person LGBTQ Family Post-Election Family Forum
1/12 6-8pm, at Laurel Bookstore in Oakland
Our Family Coalition is hosting an in-person Post-Election LGBTQ Family Forum to discuss the potential impact of a Trump administration on LGBTQ families. Emily Doskow, Linda M. Scaparotti and Angela Bean, attorneys with decades of experience working with LGBTQ families and immigration issues, will be onsite to speak and answer your questions and concerns.

Share Your Family Building Stories – LGBTQ Family Visibility Project
Our Family Coalition and SprOUT Family are gathering voices of LGBTQ families in California to assist with support, education and advocacy in the upcoming year. Sharing your family’s story can help move hearts and minds. We welcome stories from LGBTQI parents and caregivers, prospective parents, donors, children of LGBTQI parents, siblings and extended families (PFLAGers). All stories will be edited in collaboration with you and featured on Our Family Coalition and SprOUT Family websites. Email policy@ourfamily.org if you want to share your family’s story to build support for LGBTQI families.

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Just the Beginning

By Michael Mortensen,
an Our Family Coalition Communications & Media Coordinator for Summer 2015

It is 9:12 and the San Francisco BART train will be coming any minute.  I make my way through the crowd, and squeeze into the closest car.  Today is my first day at Our Family Coalition as a communications intern, and I cannot be late.

I have been looking forward to starting this internship since the moment I applied.  Ever since I visited San Francisco this past December, I knew I had to get an internship there.  “Communications intern needed for Bay area LGBTQ Family non-profit”.  I have always wanted to get involved in the LGBTQ community, I am great with kids, and it is in San Francisco!  This was the perfect internship for me.

I quickly learned that the working with Our Family Coalition is so much more than posting on Facebook and sending a few tweets.  On a daily basis I was challenged, and almost convicted, by my previously held beliefs and opinions.  I thought I knew about the problems and discrimination LGBTQ families faced, but this Arizonian came to realize that he still had (and has) so much to learn.

Our Family Coalition provides an outlet for Bay area LGBTQ families to come together and create a world of inclusion, advocacy, and social justice.  This includes creating LGBTQ education, supporting policy, and gender neutral bathrooms.  Coming from a conservative state, this was all very new to me.  It never occurred to me that these issues existed, and how important fighting these social injustices are for children and families.

I had the privilege to witness history in the making at San Francisco City Hall an early June morning, to hear mayor Ed Lee, NCLR’s Kate Kendell, and Gavin Newsom speak about this win for America.  I still cannot believe that I was literally there when Marriage Equality became nationwide, and at the place where it all started, at the heart of San Francisco.  And yet, this was only the beginning.

Before this internship, I thought marriage was the final step to LGBTQ discrimination, but there is still so much more to be done.  Transgender rights, black rights, LGBTQ adoption and foster care, and LGBTQ family protection are just some of the many issues OFC is tackling.  Our Family Coalition is making a real difference in the Bay Area, and throughout my time here, I was educated on these issues and their importance.  Before, I thought “hey, this doesn’t affect me” but now I am beginning to realize that yes, it actually does, because it affects everyone.   I have the freedom to marry, but I cannot take this for granted.  It took decades of hard work and unprecedented violence for change to happen. I no longer want to stand on the sidelines watching social justice take place.  I want to be in the crowd and on the front lines, demanding change

Living in the Bay Area this summer, I grew my digital communications skills, maturity, but most importantly I developed a new responsibility to use this momentum of change to make a difference.  I want to inspire others back at home to join the crowd, educate themselves, and advocate for real equality.

Wedding in a Week

Post by Maria Iorillo of San Francisco Midwife

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Dina and I have been together for 19 years. She is amazing, wonderful, marriage-material-from-day-one! A few years back, I really can’t remember, I asked her to marry me. She knew that marriage was actually a difficult topic for me, so she had said, “I won’t pressure you, I won’t even ask. But someday, you are going to ask me. Even if I have to wait until I am 65, I know someday you will ask.” So, a few years back, after working through my own self doubts and hesitations, I asked.

Of course, she said yes.

But what did it really mean? It was a sentiment from my heart. I want to marry you. But, there really was nothing else to do at that point. I didn’t want to get married in a different state and then come back to California. So, we waited. Between then and now, I probably asked her to marry me again a couple dozen times.

On June 26th, 2013, Prop 8 and DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) went down in flames. I watched, riveted, to my television at 7am (which I usually never do). I texted my son that love conquers hate. He asked me if we were gonna go for it. I said, “I think so. Wanna be there?” He said, “Don’t you dare do it without me!”

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I imagined Dina and me waiting on line with hundreds of other couples and us tweeting as we were getting closer to our turn. “Marriage in 2 hours.” “Meet us in 15.” Truth be told, we didn’t even know HOW to get married. It was Gay Pride weekend, so that Saturday, we asked another couple who had recently partaken in this ancient ritual, how it was done.

Go online.

On the City and County of San Francisco website, they announced that they would be marrying couples all weekend. City Hall is usually closed to the public on Saturday and Sunday but they knew the time was now.

LineOn Sunday, we got on line with hundreds of other giddy, in love couples. There were families with children, two men, two women, some in tuxes, some in sneakers and jeans. As each couple passed with their marriage certificate, the crowd cheered. Dina and I filled out our application for a marriage certificate and after 2 and a half hours, we were done with part A of getting married. We needed to wait for Tyler for part B, the ceremony.

Fortunately, Tyler, who is 21, came home from college the next day. We went online. We made an appointment. July 9th, 1:30pm, County Clerk’s office.

By Tuesday, July 2nd, we were starting to plan, but I was dreaming of a bigger venue in City Hall. I skimmed over a wedding package on the San Francisco county website where more people could come. Then, I found it. Weekday Balcony rentals. Click. I called to the City’s Events Planning Office and asked what they had available, as soon as possible. Tuesday, July 9th would work on the 4th-floor balcony. You can have 120 people. I’ll take it!

Dina and I went down that afternoon to look at the balcony. It is on the fourth floor with beautiful natural light and white marble everywhere — certainly a gorgeous place to have a wedding.

July 4th. Potluck at Stephanie Forster’s. Which shirt do you like the best? What shoes should we wear? Stephanie, Sam and Liz took us under their wings and coached us for 3 hours about what we needed, from girlie undergarments to make-up and hair. Dina and I came home overwhelmed, excited, and maybe a little nauseous. This was really happening.

The 8th. The Day Before Our Wedding. We still didn’t have rings. Down at City Hall, checking out the venue. Here’s the plan: 93 in the Bridal party! 15 midwife bridesmaids with 17 babes-in-arms will follow, announcing the baby’s name and age. Dina and I proceed in. 53 flower girls and boys follow, each announcing their name and age and giving Dina and I one flower each. Obviously, these are all “my babies”, from 9-day-old Micah to 22-year-old Natasha.

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Rings. Yeah, those. Okay, we make one last ditch effort to find rings in our sizes before we will have to order them and just use stand-ins for the wedding. We go to the back of REI to the Diamond Center on a tip from Kevin Ehrenrich, Oliver’s Dad (Baby 1001). There we find a man who says he can make our rings, to size, with engraving, by 11am tomorrow. Really? It’s GO time!

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July 9th. Wedding Day. Excitement, beauty, joyful ruckus, happy chaos. Kate Holcombe (mother of Calder, Hayes and Sam) came up to us at the last moment and gave us both something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. We loved it! All went perfectly and beyond our wildest dreams. We felt so much love and support from this amazing community. We feel blessed, grateful, giddy, overjoyed, lucky.

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Read the full article on Wisewoman Childbirth Traditions Newsletter: Wedding in a Week! 

What Domestic Partners Need to Know About Applying for Health Insurance Under Obamacare

Post by Shae Irving, legal editor and writer

Healthcare-Reform-Act-queeredWhen registered domestic partners or civil union partners apply for coverage in the new health insurance marketplace, there’s one question that almost always arises: Do we apply based on our separate incomes, or must we include all the income we make as a couple?

The answer depends on the state where you live.

States other than California, Nevada, or Washington. In almost all states, registered domestic partners or civil union partners who apply for insurance via the state’s health insurance exchange must do so separately. Each partner includes only his or her separate income, and this amount determines health plan costs and eligibility for cost-saving subsidies. It works this way because domestic partners are not considered married for federal tax purposes.

Gay marriage bandsCalifornia, Nevada, or Washington. The exception to the above rule is for the few states that extend community property laws to registered domestic partners — California, Nevada, and Washington. In these states, domestic partners must usually apply using half of the partners’ combined incomes. (We confirmed this with the legal department at Covered California after repeatedly receiving conflicting information from representatives staffing the exchange’s customer service phone line.) This is because IRS rules require that domestic partners registered in these community property states report half of their combined community income on their federal taxes each year.

Sometimes, this reporting requirement will have the unfortunate effect of rendering a lower-earning partner ineligible for health insurance subsidies.

Example: Caroline and Susan are registered domestic partners in California. Caroline makes $80,000 per year and Susan earns $30,000 per year. When they apply for health insurance at Covered California, they will complete separate applications but must each include $55,000 of community income (half of their combined community income of $110,000). Neither partner will qualify for premium-lowering subsidies, which are generally available for individuals earning less than about $46,000 per year. If Caroline and Susan were able to apply separately, Susan would have qualified for premium assistance in the form of tax credits.

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The only case in which domestic partners registered in community property states would not apply based on combined income is that in which the partners signed a valid pre-registration agreement (like a “prenup”) before registering, in which they opted out of the community property system by agreeing to keep all property separate.

The Bottom Line

In short, how you apply for Obamacare depends on how you file your federal taxes. If you include community income when you report your earnings to the IRS, you must include it when seeking health care coverage as well. If you report only separate income to the IRS, you will include only separate income on your health insurance application.

For More Information

To learn whether you are required to purchase health insurance under Obamacare, see Do I Have to Get Obamacare in California?

To find out how Obamacare’s cost-saving subsidies work, see Ways to Save Money on Obamacare.

If you’re ready to apply, see How Do I Sign Up for Obamacare in California?

Also be sure to check out Our Family Coalition’s Understanding the Affordable Care Act in both Oakland and San Francisco!

Oakland
Registration
: Click Here!
When: Wednesday, January 29, 6-8pm
Where: BANANAS, 5232 Claremont Ave, Oakland

San Francisco
Registration
: Click Here!
When: Thursday, February 6, 6-8pm
Where: SF LGBT Community Center, 1800 Market St.