Category Archives: Action Alert

We can and must defeat this anti-LGBTQ family amendment

Every week we are faced with another gratuitous challenge to the gains LGBTQ people and our families had so recently made, or an affront to human decency. This week it’s both.

On Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee approved a harshly anti-LGBTQ family amendment to an existing bill, allowing child service agencies widespread license to discriminate against LGBTQ people –or against interfaith couples, or single parents, or any other prospective parents who don’t pass the agency’s or its staff’s religious muster.

And more: the bill not only enshrines discrimination based on “religious or moral beliefs,” but it would discriminate against states who ban anti-LGBT discrimination in child placement services – such as ours – by denying such states 15% of their federal annual adoption dispersals. The effect: the federal government would disproportionately fund adoption and foster placements in “religious recusal” or legally discriminatory states.

This is more than outrageous, this is inhumane. More than 440,000 children are in foster care right now; 117,000 are waiting for adoption; more than 20,000 age out before finding a permanent family. Two million LGBTQ adults have expressed interest in becoming foster or adoptive parents: it’s beyond time to end this pointless discrimination, in the best interest of the children.

Because the amendment is attached to the bill that provides funding for the Department of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, to kill this amendment representatives need to vote against the entire funding package. But House Democrats and moderate Republicans could work together against, and they must.

We know from impacts on the Affordable Care Act and family separation that public outcry has an impact. Our voices can and will make a difference!

Here’s what you can do today:

  • Contact your representative. Demand they oppose this inhumane attempt to enshrine anti-LGBTQ discrimination nationwide. If they’re already on record in opposition, encourage them to raise their voice louder, and assure them you have their back.
  • Join the mailing list of the Every Child Deserves a Family campaign to stay updated: ECDF is a federal act – introduced last year by John Lewis (D-GA) in the House and Kirsten Gillebrand (D-NY) in the Senate – calling on child welfare agencies to make placement decisions on the basis of the best interest of the child, not an agency’s or its workers’ religious beliefs.
  • Share your story: Our Family Coalition is always interested in collecting and publishing your story, whether you are a foster parent or youth, an LGBTQ parent, a child welfare professional, or an ally. Or join the Speaker’s Bureau at Our Family Coalition. In print or in person, your voice will help spread real understanding about real families. We need this now more than ever.

We are here for one another; we are here for the children, and we will continue fighting against bigotry, together, in the name of love.

Families Belong Together

On June 20th the Trump Administration signed an executive order apparently stopping their policy of separating families at the border. This is a false victory, with severe repercussions. The executive order, known as “Affording Congress an Opportunity to Address Family Separation,” still allows for continued prosecution of immigrant families and will encourage their indefinite incarceration–only now, together. There is much work to be done to protect our immigrant communities, which include thousands of LGBTQ individuals and families escaping persecution.

If this inhumane executive order stands, babies and innocent children will continue to be incarcerated in tent cities, cages, and even federal jails indefinitely, while families are criminally prosecuted awaiting the outcome of their deportation cases. Furthermore, this order does not provide any redress  to families that have already been separated, nor does it include any plans to reunite children with their parents. 

We must continue to vigorously oppose any threats to the safety and well-being of all families at every opportunity, which brings us to “Pride with Action.”

As you know, we’ll be marching in the San Francisco Pride Parade this Sunday, June 24th:

Contingent #22, meeting on Steuart between Mission and Howard as of 9am

We are humbled to have been awarded SF Pride’s José Sarria History Maker Award for our work helping to advance LGBTQ inclusion in California schools. It is fitting, then, to remember: history is made up of what we do–or don’t do–every day, and likewise history will judge us for those actions–or that inaction.

We remember that Pride commemorates a riot that launched the modern LGBTQ liberation movement, whose accomplishments make so much of the comfort and mobility of our queer lives possible. Let us reclaim the streets on Sunday and in the days coming, in solidarity with all our community, inspired to continue the necessary work before us.

What can you do?

TODAY 

  • Call your elected official and demand a NO vote on Paul Ryan’s Immigration Bill, which is designed to exploit this crisis and enshrine family separation. The vote has been postponed ‘til next week and its passage would be disastrous.
  • SUPPORT SB 3036
    • Dial 202-224-3121
    • Say your ZIP Code
    • When connected, simply say: “I LIVE IN City, State AND I SUPPORT SB3036”

THIS SUNDAY AT PRIDE

  • Bring signs in solidarity. Remember the struggle is intersectional; let’s call attention to all marginalized voices

GOING FORWARD

And may we all continue to educate ourselves, our families, and friends in our journeys toward being effective allies to all marginalized communities. We are, more than ever, in this together.

Win, lose, or draw: we still have work to do!

Dear families and friends:

This morning’s Supreme Court ruling in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case wasn’t a win, or a loss: it was a draw.

“Religious exemption” arguments may not be used to justify discrimination against LGBTQ people. And LGBTQ people in the 19 states who are currently protected – as in California – remain just as protected today as we were yesterday.

But the court missed an opportunity to strike down those “religious exemption” arguments once and for all. The larger issues remain unresolved by the court, so we still have a lot of work ahead of us to ensure nondiscrimination protections nation-wide.

For those unfamiliar with the case, here’s a thumbnail sketch from the ACLU:

“In 2012, Mullins and Craig visited the Masterpiece Cakeshop to order a cake for their wedding.  After the bakery turned the would-be customers away because they were a same-sex couple, Mullins and Craig filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The commission found that the bakery had discriminated against the couple in violation of Colorado law, a decision the Colorado courts upheld. The Supreme Court today found that members of the Commission had made statements evidencing anti-religious bias, and thus had not given a fair consideration to the bakery’s claims.”

So: the ruling was in favor of the baker, but in a very narrow, “case-specific” way. What does that mean?

We still have work to do: we must continue to vigorously oppose “religious exemption” arguments to justify discrimination, and  we must continue to vigorously advocate for federal-level protections for all LGBTQ people via the Equality Act. Our Family Coalition Emeritus Board member and nationally-recognized family law expert Deborah Wald underscores the need for this kind of legistation:

“While we respect every person’s right to practice their religion, we cannot be a country where businesses can choose to cater to only one race, one religion, or one sexual orientation or gender.  Each of us must have the right to walk into any store on any street in America with confidence that we will be treated with respect.”

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees we all have the right to pracice our own religion, or no religion at all. But it has never meant that religion can be used as justification to discriminate. Father Richard Smith, Vicar of St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church in San Francisco, clarifies how important this is for all of us, regardless of faith:

“If it was morally reprehensible in the Jim Crow south for business owners to refuse to serve people who were black, it is equally reprehensible for them now to refuse to serve people who are gay. For too long, bogus theological and legal claims have justified discrimination. Let’s call this one what it is: sheer bigotry that denies the dignity of human beings created in God’s image.”

What can you do today?

  • If they don’t already, urge your representative to support the Equality Act, which amends the Civil Rights act to include LGBTQ people – and if they do, thank them!
  • If they don’t already, urge your representative to support Do No Harm Act, which amends the Religious Fredom Restoration Act to ensure it’s not used in a discriminatory way– and if they do, thank them!
  • Join our Speaker’s Bureau and help amplify the voices of LGBTQ family in all these issues affecting us.
  • Support Our Family Coalition’s ongoing efforts to ensure equity for all of us.

It was never about the cake. And: the baker’s win is not, in simple terms, our loss. But we still have work to do. We’re honored to do it together with you.

Yours in solidarity,

Renata Moreira
Executive Director

P.S. Our friends at the National Equality Action Team and the ACLU have made it easy to find a rally in your area to show your support of nondiscrimination protections and opposition to the use of religion as a weapon.

New GOP “license to discriminate bill reintroduced.” Act now.

The GOP is bound and determined to use the calamity of Trump’s presidency and their current House and Senate majorities to do as much damage to our communities as possible.  Yesterday brought another very consequential threat, and it must not go unnoticed.

Republican senators just re-introduced the so-called “First Amendment Defense Act” (FADA). This news remains out of the media limelight today, but it’s huge: this bill would weaponize a narrow spectrum of conservative religious beliefs about marriage and sexuality, granting agencies across the country even more widespread license to discriminate against LGBTQ families, LGBTQ individuals, unmarried folks of all kinds, and a host of others. For example:

  • government employees could refuse to serve married same-sex couples and their families in critical ways such as not processing tax returns, visa applications, or Social Security checks;
  • employers could refuse to grant employees family or medical leave to take care of their same-sex spouses;
  • employers could fire an unmarried female employee for getting pregnant;
  • hospitals could refuse to allow visitation to same-sex partners and spouses;
  • social services like homeless shelters, drug treatment programs, and adoption agencies could turn away anyone who has had sex outside of a man-woman marriage; and
  • commercial landlords could refuse to provide housing to a single mother.

They’ve been at this for years, but ramped up big time when Trump took office. With last year’s Justice Department guideline on “religious freedom,” anti-LGBTQ discrimination became more than tolerated: it’s receiving tax advantages. The recently established federal “Division of Conscience and Religious Freedom” is meant to accomplish the same aims.

So now, GOP senators have re-introduced First Amendment Defense Act. It’s a body blow to LGBTQ people, to the separation of church and state, and to our constitutional democracy.

We at Our Family Coalition join with hundreds of partners across the state and nation to push back against ill-informed leaders who use religion as a weapon to hurt LGBTQ families and communities.

What can you do?

We cannot allow our communities’ rights to be rolled back to medieval times. Let us take action, let us pool our resources,  and let us be guided by our love – of our children and of justice.

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