Category Archives: News

Increasing LGBTQ family visibility & support for our diverse communities

This past weekend, the 2nd Annual LGBTQI+ Family Formation Symposium was held in Santa Rosa, California, where Our Family Coalition Executive Director Renata Moreira delivered the keynote address.

The family formation symposium was hosted by North Bay LGBTQI Families, a parent-led, volunteer-led organization aimed at serving and supporting LGBTQI families in Sonoma County. Their impact, however, reaches far beyond the North Bay.

It was a welcome invitation to participate at this year’s symposium and a message Executive Director Renata Moreira made clear to all in attendance: “We are thrilled to be supporting LGBTQ parent leadership on the ground in Sonoma county and hope to see many more groups popping up across the state to continue increasing LGBTQ family visibility & support for our diverse communities.” Event organizer Leslie Wiser described what it meant to her in moving terms: “The Symposium was the culmination of a 3-month labor of love by 5 committed Sonoma County parents to build community in a rural and isolated area. We wanted to streamline the information needed in the family formation process, raise awareness of the hoops we have to jump through to build and protect our families, amplify the voices of QTPOC and their families, and bring issues of justice, diversity, and school safety to North Bay parents, educators and administrators. It was a smashing success for the 2nd year in a row. Ana Flores-Tindall, Zahyra Garcia, Sara Flores, Emily Gaines and I look forward to continue to uplift the voices of the most oppressed in our queer community of families at our next annual events – the Sonoma County Queer Family Campout and Pride Parade March the first weekend in June.”

The symposium was split into three blocks, Build, Protect, and Advocate: panel discussions and information surrounded topics such as family formation options for prospective parents or existing families wanting to expand; legal considerations for both existing and prospective families; and advocacy to create safe and welcoming schools for our children and LGBTQ youth.

Education Director Tarah Fleming led a workshop during the all-day symposium outlining practical ways local schools can foster a more inclusive classroom environment and school community. With recent wins for the State of California in the implementation of the FAIR Ed Act, enacting change in school curricula is an essential step in creating safer, more inclusive schools and changing the climate in which our children learn and grow.

Moving into the second year of the Trump administration’s leadership and oftentimes, wanton abuse of power, as an organization at the forefront of LGBTQ family equity and justice, Our Family Coalition understands the ever-pressing urgency in advocacy, education and support for our communities, both locally and nationally. With recent findings showing a drop in LGBTQ acceptance across the States, it is imperative that we continue to create and foster extant LGTBQ community organizations, especially in areas where accessibility to resources and support are harder to come by. Thanks to the hard work of the folks in Sonoma, Napa, Marin, and Solano counties, that is changing. One symposium and one family at a time.

 

OFC Condemns Trump Administration’s License to Discriminate

Our Family Coalition joins the many reproductive rights, LGBTQ, and civil rights groups in strongly condemning the Trump Administration’s new “Conscience and Religious Freedom” division in the U.S. Department Health and Human Services, announced yesterday.

Directing federal resources to provide additional protections for health care providers “who refuse to perform, accommodate, or assist with certain health care services on religious or moral grounds” is a de facto license to discriminate, plain and simple.

Debates about medical ethics and freedom of conscience refusals have been around long before this administration. But according to the American Medical Association’s own Principles of Medical Ethics, the medical profession has never undermined physicians’ right to “choose whom to serve and whom to associate with, excepting emergencies.”  However:

conscientious objection must be tempered by the statements of principle 8; which states when caring for a patient, physicians must regard the interests of the patient as “paramount;” and principle 9 which states that physicians shall support access to medical care for all peoples.

And over ten years ago, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee on Ethics made clear:

In an emergency in which referral is not possible or might negatively affect a patient’s physical or mental health, providers have an obligation to provide medically indicated and requested care regardless of the providers moral objections.1

The establishment clause of the Constitution’s First Amendment also makes it clear: the federal government has no business in the religion business. Neither in prohibiting the free exercise of it, nor in elevating one in particular.  

We’ve already seen the impact on LGBTQ families of this federally promoted religious conservatism. In their brief to the Supreme Court case on the Makepiece Cakeshop last October, our colleagues at Family Equality Council shared testimony from a lesbian couple in Texas, who faced denial of service from a pediatric dentist, in spite of their two-year-old crying and bleeding from a knocked-out front tooth after a fall:

H.C. recounts: “I was at work at the time. When my wife and daughter arrived at the dentist’s office, he asked my wife ‘who is the real mother?’ … My wife … explained that M.C. has two mothers. The dentist told my wife that ‘a child cannot have two mothers’ and said that he would only see the biological mother (me) of our daughter with a birth certificate as proof. My wife called me sobbing, and told me, ‘They want the real mom to be here. You have to come and bring M.C.’s birth certificate before they will treat her.’ I was shocked. … We were blindsided by this whole encounter.

Although my wife and I … expected we might face discrimination at some point in our lives …, we never expected to face discrimination from a medical provider—especially from someone taking care of our child. I don’t think anything could have prepared us for this.”

Something similar happened in Michigan. And these are just two cases of many.  Our colleagues at Lambda Legal have outlined the legal problems and social impact  this new division will cause, and outline its roots in the Trump Administration’s abuse of arguments on behalf of “religious freedom,” which it has used to justify attacks on LGBTQ people and women since its first month in power.

Religious freedom means a lot of things to a lot of people. So, evidently, does democracy. If the past several years in American politics have shown us anything, it’s that these fundamentals are more vulnerable than we may ever have thought. Our communities, our children, and indeed our love of these basic tenets demands that if we cherish them, we have to fight vigilantly for them. Our Family Coalition is here, side by side with our communities and allies, to do so.

Join us!  By submitting a post for this blog or our newsletter, or getting on our Speakers’ Bureau, or coming with us to Sacramento to speak with legislators, or coming to volunteer at any of our dozens of monthly community events. Together, we will ensure that the bright spirit of our democracy remains undimmed, for the whole of the extended American family.

 

 1. Both the American Medical Association statement and theAmerican College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee on Ethics statement can be found in Felipe Vizcarrondo, MD, MA, FCP’s “Freedom of Conscience Revisited,” in the March 2016 American College of Pediatricians Issues in Medical Ethics.

We made history!

Beloved community, we did it!

The California State Board of Education (SBE) just voted to adopt only those textbooks which reflect LGBT roles and contributions in history and social sciences – per the 2011 FAIR Education Act – making California the first state in the nation to adopt LGBTQ-inclusive textbooks for use in K-8 education!

LGBT inclusive curriculum advocates at California Dept of Ed

Pictured in the lobby of the California Department of Education, November 9, 2017: Bish Pleez, Capitol LGBT Association; Renata Moreira, OFC; Krystal Torres-Covarrubias; Rob Darrow, Safe Schools Santa Cruz County; Rick Oculto, OFC; Polly Pagenhart, OFC; Carolyn Laub, FAIR Education Act Implementation Coalition; Judy Appel, Berkeley Unified School District School Board; Callisyn Zielenski, OFC.

I wrote you last in late September, following the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) meeting. They had just reviewed the textbooks that would be forwarded on for final adoption by the SBE. At that time, the IQC accepted every one of the edits proposed by the FAIR Education Act Implementation Committee, helmed by Our Family Coalition. If made, those edits would ensure our state’s instructional materials included LGBTQ roles and contributions in accordance with the FAIR Education Act.

We had worked hard to ensure that the IQC recommendations would be accepted at this final meeting. What we didn’t know was that the approval would be unanimous, and that ultimately every single publisher did everything they could to get on the right side of this history because of our collective advocacy and expertise. The new materials also expand lessons on the diverse, multicultural heritage of California and the importance of our state as a place of promise for all people, including immigrants and people with disabilities.

After thanking the FAIR Education Act Implementation Coalition for “showing us at the California Department of Education the path to justice and equality,” Tom Adams, Deputy Superintendent of Schools, called the adoption of these textbooks:

“One of the greatest reforms in the history of education in California!”

We couldn’t agree more. Here’s the California Department of Education’s press release on the decision.

After we sweep up the celebration confetti: back to work on the next chapter! In the coming months, school board after school board up and down the state will be launching into their examination of these textbooks and deciding what’s right for their community.

It’s going to be a big job: over six million California public school students are educated by nearly 300,000 teachers in over 1,000 school districts. We are more than ready for it: in collaboration with educators and partners across the state, and with the support of community members like you, we’ll ensure that every student in California has access to fair and accurate portrayals of the LGBTQ community and our contributions.

Join us in writing this next chapter of California’s history by donating what you can, and by contacting us at education@ourfamily.org to see where your passion can connect with this movement.

With pride and joy,

Renata Moreira
Executive Director, Our Family Coalition

P.S. Again, we need the support of members and allies to continue advocating for full LGBTQ-inclusive textbook adoption by districts across the state. Your support will allow hundreds of teachers to receive the training they need to bring these new materials to our families and students. Won’t you pitch in today to help us continue working hard to advance inclusive education? Thank you, from the bottoms of our hearts.

CA APPROVES LGBT-INCLUSIVE TEXTBOOKS FOR ADOPTION BY STATE BOARD OF ED

Last Friday we were thrilled to issue the following Press Release, along with our partners in the FAIR Education Act Implementation Coalition (available also as a PDF here):

SAN FRANCISCOOn Thursday, September 29th, the California Department of Education’s Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) voted to approve 10 History-Social Science K-8 textbooks which were inclusive of the LGBT content mandated by the state’s 2016 History-Social Science Framework. Most were approved conditional upon edits provided by the FAIR Education Act Implementation Coalition, a group of LGBT advocacy and educational organizations formed to ensure implementation of the state’s 2012 FAIR Education Act, which requires the inclusion of the political, economic, and social contributions of LGBT people and people with disabilities in California textbooks.

The IQC also voted to reject the two textbooks that did not include the content, and whose corrective edits represented such a substantial portion of the text as to be considered a re-write of content, impermissible at this stage of the review process.

FAIR-Ed-supporters

Parents, teachers, FAIR Ed Act organizational partners, and a middle schooler, following the August 17, 2017 Instructional Quality Commission meeting.

“We are very pleased with the responsiveness of most of the publishers, and with the care the Commission took to abide by the state subject matter Framework and Social Content Standards,” said Carolyn Laub, an educational consultant working with the FAIR Education Act Implementation Coalition. Laub, along with Professor Don Romesburg of the Committee on LGBT History and Our Family Coalition’s Education team, helped provide research and analysis of the textbooks.  

The group notes, however, that it will keep advocating for changes to one of the recommended textbooks, which continues to fall short of Framework guidelines.  “We’re grateful to the IQC and to the majority of publishers involved for taking our concerns into account, but Studies Weekly fails to include reference to Native American ‘two spirit’ people in Grade 4, and continues to exclude LGBT families in Grade 2, both of which are stipulated by the Framework,” says Renata Moreira, Executive Director of Our Family Coalition, a lead organization of the FAIR Education Act Implementation Coalition.

“Ensuring that LGBTQ people, families and their contributions to our nation and communities are fully represented is crucial to making sure that students in California schools are safe, accepted and free from bullying,” said Rick Zbur, Executive Director of Equality California, which sponsored the FAIR Education Act in 2011. “It’s one thing to get a law passed, but another to make sure that everyone – from those who publish the materials our children learn from to those who teach that material – understand and live up to their responsibilities under the law.”

The History-Social Science Framework requires that: “Through studying the stories of a very diverse collection of families, such as families headed by solo parents, immigrant families, families with lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender parents and their children, extended families, families with disabled members, families from different religious traditions, and adoptive families, students can both locate themselves and their own families in history and learn about the lives and historical struggles of their peers.”

“We cannot simply offer our students and future generations a few token references; they deserve fodder for rich, critical thinking, that allows them to understand the true diversity of California,” said Moreira.

The IQC recommendations now go to review by the State Board of Education, to be considered and ratified at meetings in November.  At that point, the textbooks become approved for purchase by schools statewide.

The FAIR Education Act Implementation Coalition is led by Our Family Coalition and includes Equality California, GSA Network, The Committee on LGBT History, Los Angeles LGBT Center, ACLU, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Transgender Law Center, and the Safe Schools Project of Santa Cruz County.

We stand with 114 other national organizations: this ACA repeal attacks America’s most vulnerable

This morning, Our Family Coalition joined with 114 other national organizations in expressing our opposition to the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. From the letter: “We are deeply concerned about the negative impact that the Graham-Cassidy bill would have on many vulnerable and marginalized communities—including the LGBTQ community—that already face systemic discrimination and healthcare disparities.”

Full text below and in PDF form here.

United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
September 25, 2017/

Dear Senator:

On behalf of the undersigned organizations representing millions of people who support equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people nationwide, we write to express our opposition to the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson (Graham-Cassidy) proposal, and its underlying provisions to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). We are deeply concerned about the negative impact that the Graham-Cassidy bill would have on many vulnerable and marginalized communities—including the LGBTQ community—that already face systemic discrimination and healthcare disparities.

The ACA has served as a lifeline for millions of LGBTQ people who too often have found themselves cut off from critical healthcare services.(1) Prior to implementation of the ACA, LGBTQ people had some of the lowest insured rates of any population in the country. The individual market reforms, including the ban on preexisting condition exclusions, have made it possible for many in our community to obtain health insurance for the first time in their lives. Thanks to the ACA, from 2013-2017, the uninsurance rate for low- and middle-income LGBTQ people was reduced by 35%.(2) There is evidence that this reduction has been greater in states that opted for the Medicaid expansion,(3) and currently 1.8 million LGBTQ people rely on Medicaid.4 For those with particularly low incomes – under 250% of the federal poverty level – 40% of LGBTQ, compared with 22% of non-LGBTQ people, rely on Medicaid. For many people living with HIV, as one example, protections for those with pre-existing conditions has made insurance affordable and treatment accessible. Tens of thousands of people living with HIV have qualified for care under the Medicaid expansion, gaining access to life-saving treatments before becoming disabled by the virus. As a result, people living with HIV are able to have healthier and longer lives.

The Graham-Cassidy proposal will have a detrimental impact on the positive trend of health coverage for LGBTQ people and so many other vulnerable populations. Under previous repeal and replace legislation with comparable provisions for block-granting Medicaid the Congressional Budget Office projected 32 million people could ultimately lose coverage.(4) These projections foreshadow an unacceptable growth in the uninsured rate and an equally unacceptable exacerbation of health care disparities.

The Graham-Cassidy proposal fundamentally changes the Medicaid program, imposing a per capita cap funding structure and terminating the expansion of the program under the ACA. The magnitude of the lost funding will have a swift, stark, and devastating impact on the most vulnerable among us: women and children, the elderly, people with disabilities, and persons living with HIV. The legislation also strips the requirement to cover essential health benefits under the Medicaid expansion, leaving millions without access to the critical benefits that often save lives, such as substance abuse treatment and mental healthcare services.

The bill will also increase premiums for people with pre-existing conditions, including many significant, chronic health conditions for which LGBTQ people are at greater risk of experiencing relative to their peers. For example, people with major depressive disorder will see a premium surcharge of $8,490, while someone with breast cancer will see a surcharge of $28,660.(5) Research shows that 65% of LGBTQ people have a pre-existing medical condition, such as diabetes or heart disease.(6) Rather than increasing coverage, passage of this bill will cause millions of people to lose coverage while making coverage unaffordable for those who remain in the market.

Graham-Cassidy would give states broad waiver authority to eliminate the ACA’s core protections for people with pre-existing health conditions. Insurers would still have to offer coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, but they could make such coverage so expensive that it would be essentially meaningless. For LGBTQ older adults, many of whom face pronounced health disparities in physical and mental health, including depression, high blood pressure, heart disease, cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, and HIV/AIDS, cost increases of this magnitude would result in the loss of health care coverage.

Prior to the ACA, employer-provided health plans frequently limited the maximum amount of coverage employees could receive over their lifetime. In 2009, 59% of covered employees had health plans with lifetime maximums, meaning they could face bankruptcy if they encountered serious health problems and were left unable to cover their healthcare costs.(7) By allowing states to seek waivers to specified essential health benefit requirements, the Graham-Cassidy proposal gives states—and subsequently employers—the ability to narrow the definition of these essential health benefits. Ultimately, this would dismantle the ACA’s ban on lifetime limits and annual out-of-pocket spending limits for essential health benefits, once again leaving individuals to risk bankruptcy in order to obtain basic healthcare.(8)

LGBTQ people, particularly people of color and those living with HIV, face systemic discrimination and health disparities, which the ACA was helping to address. Graham-Cassidy would take us backward, shredding the health care safety net and leaving many in our community to risk bankruptcy in order to obtain basic health care. The one-two punch of gutting Medicaid and eliminating the ACA’s marketplace subsidies would strip coverage away from millions and inflict some of its worst harm on LGBTQ people, who already experience health disparities because of economic disadvantage and discrimination.

The provision barring Planned Parenthood and its affiliated clinics from participating in essential public health programs not only violates the procedural requirements of legislation adopted under budget reconciliation, it constitutes terrible health policy. Barring these clinics from receiving federal reimbursement for care provided will jeopardize the ability of these providers to deliver preventive healthcare services, such as cancer screenings and STD and HIV testing, as well as services like gender transition-related care that may not be offered elsewhere in many communities. Often, health centers such as Planned Parenthood offer the only culturally competent healthcare available to LGBTQ people, especially in rural and isolated areas. Rather than improving care options, Graham-Cassidy would disproportionately impact people— including people of color, immigrants, young people, and members of the LGBTQ community— who already face structural barriers to accessing care.

We strongly urge the members of the Senate to reject provisions such as those contained in the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson proposal that would harm millions of Americans and deny them the health benefits that save lives.

Sincerely,

Adolescent Counseling Services/Outlet • AIDS Foundation of Chicago • AIDS United • Alaskans Together For Equality • Alliance For Full Acceptance (AFFA • American Civil Liberties Union American Psychological Association • APLA Health • Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum • Basic Rights Oregon • BiNet USA • California LGBT Health and Human Services Network • Callen-Lorde Community Health Center • Center For Black Equity CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers • Colorado Consumer Health Initiative • Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR) • Community Research Initiative of New England • Consumer Health First • Dab the AIDS Bear Project • Equal Rights Washington • Equality Arizona • Equality California • Equality Federation • Equality Florida • Equality Michigan • Equality North Carolina • Equality Ohio • Equality Pennsylvania • Equality Texas • Equality Utah • Equality Virginia Equality • Maine • Fair Wisconsin • Family Equality Council • Fenway Health • Forward Together • Freedom Oklahoma • Gender Health Center • Georgia Equality • Georgians for a Healthy Future • GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) • GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality • HealthRIGHT 360 • HIV Medicine Association • Human Rights Campaign • Jackson Cty Democrats (OR) LGBTQ Caucus • JCD LGBTQ Caucus (Oregon) • Justice in Aging • Lambda Legal • LGBT Center of Raleigh • Liberty City Democratic Club • Los Angeles LGBT Center • Lotus Rising Project • LPAC • MassEquality.org • Mazzoni Center • Minnesota AIDS Projec • MomsRising • Montana Human Rights Network • Movement Advancement Project • NASTAD • National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) • National Black Justice Coalition • National Center for Lesbian Rights • National Center for Transgender Equality • National Coalition for LGBT Health • National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs • National Council of Jewish Women • National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) • National Health Law Program • National LGBT Bar Association • National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund • National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) • NEAT – the National Equality Action Team • NMAC • One Colorado • Our Family Coalition • Out2Enroll • OutFront Minnesota • OutServe-SLDN • Palmetto Projec • People For the American Way • PFLAG National • Pride at Work • Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada • PROMO • Resource Center (Dallas, TX) • Rogue Rainbow Elders • Ryan White Medical Providers Coalition • Sacramento LGBT Community Center • SAGE (Advocacy & Services for LGBT Elders) • SC Equality • SCPHCA-SCMHP • Secular Coalition for America • SEIU District 1199 WV/KY/OH • Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS) • Southern AIDS Coalition • Southern HIV/AIDS Strategy Initiative • The AIDS Institute • The Center for American Progress • The Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada • The Health Initiative • The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center • The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health • The Pride Center at Equality Park • The Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition • The Trevor Project • Transgender Law Center • True Colors Fund • Universal Health Care Action Network of Ohio • URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity • Whitman-Walker Health • Wyoming Equality • Young Invincibles

(1) http://hrms.urban.org/quicktakes/Uninsurance-Rate-Nearly-Halved-for-Lesbian-Gay-and-Bisexual-Adults-sinceMid-2013.html

(2) https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/lgbt/news/2017/03/22/428970/repealing-affordable-care-act-badmedicine-lgbt-communities/

(3) https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/lgbt/reports/2014/11/17/101575/moving-the-needle/

(4) https://www.cbpp.org/research/health/like-other-aca-repeal-bills-cassidy-graham-plan-would-add-millions-touninsured

(5) https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/healthcare/news/2017/09/18/439091/graham-cassidy-aca-repeal-billcause-huge-premium-increases-people-pre-existing-conditions/

(6) https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/lgbt/news/2017/07/06/435452/senate-health-care-bill-devastating-lgbtqpeople/

(7) https://kaiserfamilyfoundation.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/7936.pdf

(8) https://www.brookings.edu/blog/up-front/2017/03/24/new-changes-to-essential-benefits-in-gop-health-billcould-jeopardize-protections-against-catastrophic-costs-even-for-people-with-job-based-coverage/

https://www.brookings.edu/2017/05/02/allowing-states-to-define-essential-health-benefits-could-weaken-acaprotections-against-catastrophic-costs-for-people-with-employer-coverage-nationwide/

Help us get the expanded Parental Leave bill across the finish line!


From our colleagues at the California Work and Family Coalition:

Great news! It looks like we have a deal with the Governor’s office on our priority legislation – parental leave bill (SB 63 – Jackson) – and he is planning to sign! 

This is exciting news, but we still need to get the bill through the Assembly. Please call your Assemblymembers TODAY in their Capitol offices to urge them to vote “AYE” on SB 63. (Find your representative’s office number here.)

Here’s a sample script:
Hello, I live in Assemblymember __________________’s district (optional: I am a mother, father, health care provider, teacher, small business owner etc) and I’m calling to urge his/her ‘aye’ (or yes) vote on SB 63 (Jackson) the New Parent Leave Act. This is an important bill that allows more parents to bond with their new children. Do you know how the Assemblymember plans to vote on SB 63?

If you have a relationship with your Assemblymember or their office, and can have an even more detailed conversation, here’s what we’re stressing regarding the amendments to the bill: this provision creates a new mediation pilot program within the Department of Fair Employment and Housing so that the parties can elect to mediate their dispute before moving to the stage of filing a lawsuit.

Are you able to do more than call? If you are available, please also join us in the Capitol on Monday, September 11 or Tuesday, September 12 as we make the rounds to Assemblymember offices. We’ll be meeting at the 6th Floor Cafeteria at 10:00 am and again at 12:30 to connect before making the rounds.

I do hope some of you will join us at the Capitol on Monday or Tuesday next week. The bill is likely to be voted on on Tuesday in the Assembly.

In Solidarity,

Jenya Cassidy
CA Work and Family Coalition

Trump Administration: Intolerable Assaults on the Most Vulnerable

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION ATTACKS ON TRANS SERVICE MEMBERS AND WORKING AMERICANS’ HEALTHCARE ARE INTOLERABLE ASSAULTS ON THE MOST VULNERABLE

SAN FRANCISCOThis morning President Trump mounted another divisive attack on transgender Americans, banning transgender people from serving in the military – the largest employer in the world –  in any capacity. Make no mistake: the timing of this incendiary announcement is not coincidental, as we are in the final, most critical days and hours of the battle to preserve the Affordable Care Act (ACA). We will not tolerate this administration making pariahs of these extraordinarily brave Americans, and neither will we be distracted from the work of defending working families’ critical health care support.  

LGBTQ Americans have historically been disproportionately under-insured, and have gained coverage through the ACA at a much higher rate than non-LGBT people.1 The ACA is critical to transgender Americans in particular: it prohibits sex discrimination, including anti-transgender discrimination, by the vast majority of insurance companies and health care providers. In every state, under the ACA, transition-related care cannot be excluded, and providers must treat you with respect and according to your gender identity.

An estimated one million LGBT people would lose coverage by 2026 under the House bill; while exactly what the Senate is about to vote on in the coming days remains shrouded in secrecy and confusion, it is no secret that any slashing of the ACA will harm millions of American families.

“We are well aware that today’s outrageous and unfounded attack on trans military service personnel is timed to distract us from our work to block the repeal of the ACA,” says Our Family Coalition Executive Director Renata Moreira. “These fights cannot be seen as separate. We rededicate ourselves these final days and hours to doing all we can to block repeal of ACA, in the name of all the transgender Americans whose well-being depends on it, on behalf of all the millions and millions of families who would be physically and financially devastated without it. This is a long game, and we must stay in it – together – ‘til the work is done.”

[available as a Press Release PDF here]

  1. Media Advisory: The House Health Care Bill Would Have a Negative Impact on LGBT People,” May 2, 2017.

[photo credit: Faith DaBrooke]

Senate Move to Debate Repeal of ACA an Attack on Most Vulnerable American Families

SAN FRANCISCO – Our Family Coalition joins our colleagues and friends in condemning the U.S. Senate’s recent “motion to proceed” to repeal fundamental elements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It is an affront to all American families, particularly the most vulnerable.

LGBTQ Americans, who have historically been disproportionately under-insured, have gained coverage through the ACA at a much higher rate than non-LGBT people, according to a recent study by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law. We are also more likely to have pre-existing conditions widely viewed as a consequence of social stigma and discrimination – such as mental health conditions or HIV/AIDs. An estimated one million LGBT people would lose coverage by 2026 under the House bill; while what the Senate is about to vote on remains shrouded in secrecy, it is no secret that it will harm countless vulnerable Americans.

“We vow to continue fighting alongside our friends and allies to stop the GOP and the current regime from stripping  health insurance from 21-32 million people,” says Our Family Coalition Executive Director Renata Moreira. “We will raise our voices against raised premiums and reduced protections for folks who need it most, and fight against restricted access to primary and preventive reproductive care.”

[available as Press Release PDF here]

Joint Statement with Forward Together on the Travel Ban and Its Impact on LGBTQ Families

Today we issued a statement with our friends at Forward Together regarding the impacts on LGBTQ families of the revised, reissued travel ban (PDF here).

Our Family Coalition joins Forward Together to condemn the State Department’s re-issued, “modified” travel ban on visitors or refugees from six Muslim-majority nations. It does more than amplify Islamophobia and distract from credible measures to address the real sources of domestic terrorism. By permitting entry only to those found to have “bona fide” connections to the US, the Trump State Department has now defined what a close family tie is.

Grandparents, grandchildren, uncles, aunts, cousins, and fiancés are not considered close enough family. And now LGBTQ family members suffering homophobic and transphobic persecution in their countries of origin have even fewer paths to refuge. Not one of the nations called out by this ban recognizes same-sex marriage: all LGBTQ partners in these nations are prohibited from entry based on spousal recognition. 1 Homosexuality is illegal in each of them, and LGBT people in them are subject to flogging, electric shock and punishment up to and including death. 2

Our partners at Forward Together issued a statement on June 29, 2017 condemning the reissued ban, noting:

In addition to legalizing discrimination through the Muslim ban, the Supreme Court’s ruling puts the task of defining family in the hands of the Trump administration thus continuing one of the most heart-wrenching practices of our immigration system – forcing families to choose which family members to sponsor based on a hierarchy of relationships determined by the State Department, not based on how their families actually work or who they want or need to bring to the US. While Trump’s new definition of family is currently limited to the Muslim ban, it is alarming to consider how this definition could create the framework for even more restricted definitions of family within our immigration system.

We couldn’t agree more. Now is the time for broader, not narrower understandings of family. We call on the Trump Administration and the State Department to halt this destructive order. And we all would do well to bear in mind this well-known, paraphrased parable: a rabbi asks, “How do we know the exact moment when night ends and day begins?” The answer: “When strangers approach, and we think of them as our brothers and sisters.”

In solidarity,

Renata Moreira                    Kalpana Krishnamurthy
Executive Director               Senior Policy Director

Our Family Coalition            Forward Together


 

1. Pew Research Center, Gay Marriage Around the World

2. Human Rights Watch, Equality to brutality: global trends in LGBT rights; Human Rights Watch: LGBT Country Profiles Track Shifting Terrain; Wikipedia, LGBT rights by country or territory.

 

Now Is the Time for Love: A Joint Statement with the San Francisco Human Rights Commission

Así somos, by Tania Cataldo

Alongside our colleagues at the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, we issued this statement today, in light of the recent anniversaries of the Pulse and Charleston massacres, each of which came during a week that also saw mass shootings at a San Francisco UPS facility and a baseball diamond in Alexandria, Virginia. On the eve of the 47th Annual SF LGBTQ Pride Parade and the 50th anniversary of San Francisco’s famed Summer of Love, now is the time to come together and proclaim our commitment to love, justice, and peace. (PDF here.)

 

Last week saw the one year anniversary of the massacre at the Pulse night club in Orlando, FL on Latin Night. Some 49 people, most young, LGBTQ, and Latinx, lost their lives to hate. Just a few days later in San Francisco, a UPS driver opened fire at his workplace, killing four, including himself. That same day a gunman in Alexandria, VA opened fire on congressional representatives practicing on a baseball field: many were wounded; one remains in critical condition. And Saturday, June 17th brought the two-year anniversary of the Charleston Church Massacre in which nine African Americans worshipping at the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church were gunned down by a white supremacist who sought to incite a race war.

Regardless of motive, or weapon, or number of victims, all murders are reprehensible, and should continue to shock, even as they become less and less surprising.

On the eve of LGBTQ Pride weekend in San Francisco and the 50th Anniversary of the Summer of Love, we call for all community members, across the spectrum of political belief and personal identity, to embrace what unites us with more passion than we are drawn to what divides us. And to act on that embrace of love to create equitable and just communities. Violence is never a solution. In almost every dilemma, love–whether of peace, of justice, of community, or of family–always is.

As organizations founded on the respect for human dignity and the value of equity, we know the power of communities, united. We invite you all to join us at the upcoming SF LGBT Pride gatherings for allies and LGBTQI community members of all backgrounds: come to pre-Trans March youth activities, an LGBTQ family brunch the morning of the Dyke March, or march with us at the San Francisco’s LGBTQ Pride Parade on Sunday. See ourfamily.org for event details or sf-hrc.org for more information.

In solidarity,

Renata Moreira

Executive Director, Our Family Coalition

 

Susan Belinda Christian

Commission Chair, San Francisco Human Rights Commission