This morning, the Supreme Court of the United States heard arguments in what promises to be one of the most significant civil rights cases in our lifetimes. It will determine whether existing federal law prohibits discrimination against LGBTQ people, but it will impact the lives of a majority of Americans.
Opponents of equality — including our very own Department of Justice — told the highest court in the land with dramatic vehemence that the case for equality is convoluted, that you have to bend over backward in order to understand it, that it’s just a cynical attempt by radical queers to “bootstrap” protections into the law where no lawmaker intended them to be.
It’s an insidious talking point. It encourages people to not bother even trying to understand. It doesn’t just overblow the complexity of what is actually pretty straightforward logic; it underestimates the attention of the people watching.
I hope you’re watching.
And I hope that when you do, you remember that your voice matters, and you can use it:
As you may be aware, in late spring we were surprised to hear that our longtime funding for East Bay programs would not be renewed by the City of Oakland. We advocated, worked with our allies, and brought supporters to urge the city to continue its support of our families. Then, in the nick of time, thanks to leadership from Oakland City Council President Rebecca Kaplan and unanimous support from the City Council, funding was restored!
We thank Kaplan for her advocacy, and we thank all of you who called, emailed, and showed up for late budget hearings, to express your support for OFC and for LGBTQ families in Oakland. We are beyond grateful that we will be able to continue our over twenty-year history of providing high quality resources, support, advocacy, and community for LGBTQ families and our allies. Since a majority of our staff and board call Oakland home, it feels right in every way.
For July and August, our East Bay-based programming will be on a summer break. We’ll return to programming with our can’t-miss Oakland LGBTQ Festival Family Garden!
Please save the date to join us on Sunday, September 8th. The Family Garden will be open 11am to 4pm; we’ll share more details as we near the event date. Note that entry to the Festival area is fee-based, benefitting Oakland Pride.
Meanwhile, here are some ways our East Bay families can stay connected over the summer:
OFC-East Bay LGBTQ Families Google Group
A Google Group for East Bay families to share ideas, insights, and pop-up playdate logistics.
A page with a list of places families could self-organize meet ups for pop-up playdates. (Not formally vetted by us – just some places we’ve enjoyed ourselves, or held events in the past, or have had recommended by good folks.) Let us know what other ideas or resources will help folks stay connected and have fun doing it!
We’re already looking forward to seeing you in the fall!
Your friends at Our Family Coalition
A quick update on our ongoing work securing the resources we need to provide the support programming, school trainings, and family advocacy we so love to provide for LGBTQ families in Oakland.
In late May we learned our regular funding was not renewed (after nearly 10 very successful grantee years), and that we needed to appeal to the Oakland City Council. Since then the Oakland City Council has been reviewing and debating amendments to the year’s budget, which include funding provisions for so many urgently needed Oakland resources: fair pay for Oakland workers; proper supports and resources for unhoused Oaklanders, park maintenance, fire abatement, and so much more.
We’ve attended and spoken at the past two City Council meetings, last night reminding City Council members just how many LGBTQ-headed families call Oakland home (a ton: Oakland’s got the state’s largest % of LGBTQ families), how many districts we live in (all of them), and how many of us really need the support the City of Oakland would provide.
If you haven’t yet, please let the City Council know that resources for LGBTQ families are indeed very much noticed and and very much needed:
The City Council will have one last meeting next Monday, June 24th (cliff hanger!), at which they’ll vote on the amended budget proposal. Throughout this process, we’ve put our thinking caps on around summer programming, and will share again when the full picture comes into focus next week.
Meanwhile, thank you for your ongoing support. OFC was founded over 20 years ago by LGBTQ parent community members with vision and initiative, and we will continue to thrive with that same vision and initiative.
Dangerous anti-LGBTQ rhetoric is in full swing, and we need to respond.
Less than two weeks following the California Department of Education’s passage of the new LGBTQ-inclusive Sexual Health Framework, a conservative, anti-LGBTQ organization is misleading and rallying parents against inclusive education, inciting protests and threatening educators and administrators.
Deliberate falsehoods have been circulated to stir up opposition to LGBTQ inclusion. Here are the facts:
This newly inclusive Framework provides guidance and support, not mandates, for teachers and schools.
Every family has and continues to have the right to determine what their child learns about sex education.
One in ten California middle and high schoolers identifies as LGBTQ, and they deserve medically accurate, age-appropriate lessons every bit as much as their cisgender and heterosexually-identified peers.
When surveyed, 89% of California parents supported comprehensive sex ed in schools.
Teachers up and down the state have asked for these resources to help answer the hard questions and ensure every kid in their class feels seen and safe. Help us support them!
Donate what you can today to enable OFC to do more of what we do so well: train schools how to approach LGBTQ-affirmative and inclusive education in ways that work–for every teacher, and every student.
Contact OFC’s Education Team to find plug in as a volunteer to support this critical advocacy–in our office, at your child’s school, or even from home.
Let’s not let this very vocal minority distort the issues and rob our kids of the balanced, inclusive education they deserve.
As any quick Google search on “Equality Act” will show you, the right wing is working overtime to discredit this piece of historic legislation. It’s big for all of us, but utterly necessary–truly, life-changing– for those of us living in the over 30 states in which one can be legallydenied employment, housing, public accommodations, you name it, simply based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Contrary to the negative hype (for examples, just check out this Advocate article), the Equality Act is not going to squash protections for anyone, or trigger a tsunami of lawsuits. In fact it will expand protections, and not only on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Want to learn more? Read on! Because below we’ve got Equality Act true facts in several formats. You may prefer simply the text of the bill itself. Or you could use an explainer video, or maybe an infographic. And for those who like their facts raw we’ve got those too, in a series of ten bullet points. Links at the bottom of the post show the sources for all the info.
And what to do, once you’ve answered your questions and are ready to act?
Connect with friends and family whose representatives have not signed on, and encourage them to urge their representatives to get on the right side of history, while they still can–i.e. before their next re-election campaign!
We get it: with a majority of Senators in lock-step with a virulently anti-LGBTQ administration, we don’t expect the Act to be passed by the Senate or signed into law by the President. But passage in the House of Representatives, with a decisively strong majority, sends a powerful message to every 2020 presidential candidate: the time for unapologetic support of federal LGBTQ civil rights and protections is now.
THE BILL ITSELF: Just like the Equal Rights Amendment, the Equality Act consists of just a few, super-clear statements. Five, to be exact:
This bill prohibits discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in areas including public accommodations and facilities, education, federal funding, employment, housing, credit, and the jury system. Specifically, the bill defines and includes sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity among the prohibited categories of discrimination or segregation.
The bill expands the definition of public accommodations to include places or establishments that provide (1) exhibitions, recreation, exercise, amusement, gatherings, or displays; (2) goods, services, or programs; and (3) transportation services.
The bill allows the Department of Justice to intervene in equal protection actions in federal court on account of sexual orientation or gender identity.
The bill prohibits an individual from being denied access to a shared facility, including a restroom, a locker room, and a dressing room, that is in accordance with the individual’s gender identity.
EXPLAINER VIDEO: if you (or someone you’re looking to persuade) like your overview in a quickie animation-filled video, here’s a 3-minute ditty from HRC:
INFOGRAPHIC: if you like a good infographic, here’s a beaut from UCLA’s Williams Institute:
FACTS & FIGURES: here are ten quick facts for your back pocket (or your purse! or both!):
42% of LGB people report experiencing discrimination on the job because of who they are;
78% of transgender people report experiencing discrimination on the job because of who they are;
only 21 states have laws explicitly banning discrimination based on sexual orientation; and
only 20 states have laws banning discrimination based on gender identity.
And, on the plus-side:
164 businesses–representing $3.8 trillion in revenue, 8.7 million employees, and operations in 50 states, with headquarters in 27 states–have endorsed the Equality Act
70% of Americans support LGBTQ anti-discrimination laws
The Equality Act would:
amend existing law, including: the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Fair Housing Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, and the Jury Selection and Service Act;
clarify that at the Religious Freedom Restoration Act cannot be used as a defense for discrimination on any basis;
apply to the same employers as the Civil Rights Act does–namely private and public-sector employers with 15 or more employees;
maintain exemptions that allow religious corporations, associations, educational institutions, and societies to hire only individuals of a particular religion to perform work connected with their religious activities, written in such a way as to assure reasonable people that religious protections are going to operate in the same way they always have.
Our Family Coalition calls on Congress to advance the the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, a major piece of legislation reintroduced in Congress on Feb 12 by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) with the goal of establishing our nation’s FIRST federal insurance program for paid family and medical leave.
This LGBTQ-inclusive measure would ensure employees have access to 12 weeks of partial income if they take time off to care for a health problem of a child, parent, spouse or domestic partner, the birth or adoption of a child, or military caregiving and leave purposes.
The proposal also makes leave available to every individual regardless of the size of their current employer or whether such individual is currently employed by an employer, self-employed or currently unemployed, as long as the person has sufficient earnings and work history.
We at Our Family Coalition believe that the FAMILY Act is a huge step forward to addressing our country’s paid family and medical leave crisis and that – when it becomes the law of the land – it will benefit working people, our families, businesses and our nation’s economy.
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.
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.
“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!
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,
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.
Fourteen individuals and organizations have also been recognized among this year’s Community Grand Marshals and Honorees for the inspiring work they have been doing on behalf of our community. We offer them our hearty congratulations, and invite you to check them out here.
San Francisco Pride’s JoséJulio Sarria History Maker Award is given to “Bay Area people who make extraordinary changes in the way society views the LGBTQ community.” And what an honor for the FAIR Ed Act Implementation Coalition to be awarded it! Because that’s exactly the aim of our work.
Our goal, shared by the half-dozen-plus agencies we lead in this coalition, is to ensure that the six million students in California’s K-12 public schools – along with all our future generations – receive an education that includes knowledge about LGBTQ people, our families, and our contributions in history and social science.
It has taken more than a village and more than a decade to get this far, and the work is far from done to make this goal into a reality. Please help us keep workingcounty by county, district by district, to ensure that teachers are able to receive the training and support they want and need to deliver this curriculum effectively. For our kids, and for the generation that’s growing up alongside them.
And stay tuned for more! Because we just may be marching a little closer to the front of the parade this year. 😉
With pride and gratitude,
Executive Director, Our Family Coalition
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.