Category Archives: News

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

Our Family Coalition Celebrates 21 Years Advocating for LGBTQ Families at Night Out Gala

SAN FRANCISCOOn Friday, May 12, 2017, Our Family Coalition (OFC), California’s premier LGBTQ family organization, brings together 400 attendees for a Night Out to celebrate the organization’s 21 years of advocacy, education, and community-building. The gala event includes elected officials, corporate sponsors, community partners and major donors, many of whom are LGBT people with children.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee will receive the Notable Ally Award at the gala.  Lee, long one of the Bay Area’s fiercest voices in Washington, serves as Vice-Chair and Founding Member of the LGBT Equality Caucus and Co-Founder & Co-Chair of the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus.

President of AT&T California Ken McNeely will receive the Luminary Award. McNeely, who lives with his husband and two children in San Francisco, is leading the way in the private sector. He was the first openly gay officer of AT&T, and serves on the Officer Advisory Board for AT&T’s LGBT and allied Employee Resource Group, the oldest LGBT employee resource group in the nation.  

San Francisco attorney Charlie Spiegel will receive the Groundbreaker Award for his lifelong advocacy on behalf of LGBTQ families. Spiegel helped co-found Our Family Coalition as it formed from the merger of two Bay Area LGBTQ family organizations. He has also served as Board Member and Co-Chair for Lambda Legal, and as a longtime organizer of Gay Future Dads.

“At 21 years old this year, Our Family Coalition is all grown up,” says OFC’s first Executive Director of color Renata Moreira. “We’re more than ready to meet the challenges facing LGBT families under the Trump administration. This event gives us a chance to celebrate our resilience, take pride in where we’ve been, and generate energy for our next, bold, intersectional steps forward.”

“I am honored Congresswoman Barbara Lee will be there and honored as well–though I am more likely the ‘as well,’” jokes honoree Spiegel.  “Michelle Meow is the usually hilarious political comic MC.  The work I’m being recognized for has been about helping make sure LGBT couples are included fully in family law settings.  That work goes hand-in-hand with the number of LGBT families who OFC has supported in coming and being out, being legally protected, and thereby changing the political landscape for marriage equality.  That work is now redoubled by OFC and all of us.”

Now in its 9th year, Night Out has established itself as the only event exclusively supporting LGBT families with children in the Bay Area. The general public is warmly invited to this adults only event. Tickets are on sale now at ourfamily.org/give-back/night-out.

Press inquiries may be directed to Polly Pagenhart, Policy & Communications Director

California Congresswoman Barbara Lee will be honored at Our Family Coalition’s 9th Annual NIGHT OUT Gala on May 12th, 2017 at 6pm at the Intercontinental San Francisco. Lee will be awarded the Notable Ally Award for her work in Congress supporting pro-LGBTQ measures and those that promote equality and fairness for our families and our community. She has been hailed as one of the most pro-gay U.S Representatives in Congress, for good reason.

Congresswoman Lee was educated locally at Mills College, where she served as the president of the Black Student Union, all while raising her two sons. Her participation in the community–through small business and community organizing–propelled her political career. She served in the California State Assembly from 1990 to 1996, during which time she authored numerous bills, including the California Schools Hate Crimes Reduction Act in 1995.

In 1998 she was elected to serve California’s 9th Congressional District (which is now the13th). She has continued to use her position as a change maker and ally for the LGBTQ community. In Congress last year on the occasion of International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia,  she said:

Unfortunately, homophobia, transphobia and discrimination against the LGBT community can still be found in communities across our nation and around the world. Whether it is in the form of hatred, exclusion, bigotry or violence, no form of discrimination should be acceptable in our society. No one should ever feel unsafe in their school, community or home because of their gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation.  Ensuring the safety and health of our LGBT family, friends and neighbors should be our highest priority.

Just a few of the bills she has sponsored and co-sponsored bills include the Anti-Bullying and Harassment Act of 2011, the Respect for Marriage Act, Real Education for Healthy Youth Act of 2011, and the Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2011. These bills, among many others, show the outstanding commitment to justice that has marked her career.

Please join us on May 12th, 2017 in honoring Congresswoman Lee with the Notable Ally Award.

photo credit: Adam Bouska, 2012

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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Resources for talking to our kids and students about the election

resources-squareRight now, we are all being called to the work of explaining these difficult times to our children. There is uncertainty, division, and—most of all—fear. We are committed to supporting families and teachers to be the loving guides children need now.

We have gathered some links and resources to guide you in your discussions with your family. First, check out an Our Family Coalition made resource, What a Trump/Pence Presidency Means For LGBTQ Family Rights. More suggested resources include:

PS: Our Family Coalition is hosting a Post-Elections Community Call on December 8, 12pm, for all of our families who are concerned about our current state of affairs and need to hear directly from our legal team and partners. Register now.

Come together tonight: Post-election gathering in San Francisco

Dear families, partners, and friends,

I woke this morning with my heart so broken, and yet so full.

12923333_10156741658315035_8320178196639789420_nLike you, Our Family Coalition staff and I are overcome with feelings of disappointment, shock, sadness, anger, and confusion. Yesterday, voters demonstrated where we are as a nation. And that place is unwelcoming – even openly hostile – to far too many of us.

Trump’s campaign appealed to people’s fears, and to the underlying anti-immigrant, misogynist, transphobic, racist, and homophobic sentiments that have been gathering strength underneath the surface of our nation’s fabric for many years.

In the wake of this election, most of our families are rightly concerned about our children’s and our community’s futures. Those of us who are Muslim, those of us who are immigrants or in bi-national families, those of in Black and brown communities, rightly worry that the threats of violence against us and our criminalization will rise.

rumiquoteAnd yet we must not despair.

First, we must take time to hold each other close and process through what is a genuine shock to many. And then? We get up and fight like hell again. We fight for our children; we fight for our kin; we fight the vision of a just world where all LGBTQ families are seen, dignified, and celebrated.

It will not be easy. But we owe it to those who worked so very hard for the progress we’ve made thusfar. And we know we can do this. Because we will do this just the way we’ve done so much up to this point: together, animated by the twin loves of our children and of justice.

Tonight, Our Family Coalition’s San Francisco office will be open to all who may want or need a place for support, and to start rebuilding our LGBTQ family community in the wake of these heartbreaking results:

LGBTQ Family Post-Election Gathering
Our Family Coalition office
1385 Mission St, #340, San Francisco
5:30 – 8pm

Please email shareena@ourfamily.org to let us know you’re coming so we can ensure we have enough food and refreshments for all.

The event we had planned for tonight was to be a DIY family craft workshop, with a photographer on hand to take family portraits. We will still offer these opportunities for your kids to be creative, and your family to go home with a beautiful portrait.  

And we hope you go home with that and more: with a fuller heart, and the knowledge that your community is strong. If you can’t be there, please know we are here for you and your family. And thank you for being here for us, through all the work that you do.

Let us celebrate the precious time we have with our kids. And let us remember now more than ever the why behind what we do.

Heartbroken (and on fire),

renata-signature
Renata Moreira
Interim Executive Director

We stand against fear and for love.

Dear OFC Community:

Orlando vigilOur hearts broke when we learned of the hate-based gun violence in Orlando this past Sunday at a gay nightclub celebrating Latin Night. Many in our community are shaken to the core. We want to reach out to connect to you, and let you know we are processing this together with you.

Our hearts and minds are with the families and community members who lost loved ones in Orlando. We stand with all who are the victims of violent hate crimes. It seems like the number of people who are victims of violence is mounting, from the senseless massacre in Charleston just one year ago today, to the invisible, ongoing violence against transgender people of color every day, to the random acts against our Islamic brothers and sisters.

We stand against fear and for love.

We stand in solidarity with and support of Islamic queer families in our community whose religion has been singled out as the cause of this terrible tragedy, when  homophobia and easy access to firearms are in fact at the core of this attack. We stand with President Obama who said yesterday afternoon, “This is a sobering reminder that attacks on any American, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation, is an attack on all of us and on the fundamental values of equality and dignity that define us as a country.”

For our community, this event is sure to resonate deeply and widely. We are committed to doing all that we can to work together to come to grips with this, which strikes close to our hearts. Please stay in touch with us and we’ll relay to you all that we are learning and doing. Together.

In solidarity,

Our Family Coalition

Resources on how to deal with trauma and talk about tragedies with your kids:

Common Sense Media: Explaining the News to Our Kids

VillageQ: Tragedies in the News: A Resource List for Parents

Mental Health America: Helping Children Cope With Tragedy Related Anxiety

The Washington Post: How teachers and parents can talk to kids about the Orlando shootings

Huffington Post: When I told my gay son 49 people died for being just like him

We Are Orlando – resources, information about vigils and how to help out

The core messages:

  • Role model the calm you’d like your kids to have;
  • Let your kids know that your family is safe;
  • Do what you can to eliminate repetitive iterations of the news via background TV or radio (or online) news;
  • Consider your own kids’ temperament as you engage the subject;
  • Keep communication lines open;
  • The younger the kid, the less likely they either have heard of the event, or can process it. The older the kid, the more likely, and the more important it is to let them express their feelings.