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:
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.
Our Family Coalition’s Oakland-based programming needs your support!
For over twenty years, Our Family Coalition (OFC) has served Oakland and East Bay LGBTQ+ families, providing support groups, play groups, workshops, and community events. Each year over 750 LGBTQ community members rely on our Oakland support groups, playgroups, workshops, and community events.
Over 1,400 community members come to our Oakland Pride Family Garden alone–now our biggest Pride event ever–many for the very first time as out LGBTQ families.
For nearly ten years we’ve been proud grantees of the City of Oakland, confident of our strong and continued presence in the city that’s home to the largest community of LGBTQ families in California.
This year we were shocked to hear
we were denied our Oakland funding!
We know: the denial of funds wasn’t based on the success of the programming itself–we’ve met or exceeded every goal of our Oakland grants, year after year.
We’re worried: the reason behind our loss of funding is precisely the reason our support services are so dearly needed, now more than ever: our most vulnerable families are the most invisible.
So long as misconceptions about LGBTQ families remain unchallenged– that we’re not also immigrants, working class and poor families, families of color, with our kids in Oakland Unified School District schools– critical, life-changing supports for allLGBTQ+ families will be lost.
We can’t let that happen!
Oakland City Councilmember At Large Rebecca Kaplan will be introducing a budget at the upcoming June 10th City Council meetingwhich will restore LGBTQ+ family support funding for the upcoming fiscal year.
3. COME TO THE CITY COUNCIL MEETING on Monday, June 10, at 5:00pm in the City Council Chambers, 3rd floor, Oakland City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza, [map]
• Gather together and rally our spirit from 4pm on at Awaken Cafe with our friends Alphabet Rockers! Just a block away at 1429 Broadway; we’ll be there from 3:30pm on. [map]
• Alphabet Rockers will rev up our inspiration for the City Council with a listening session of their new album “The Love” – written in partnership with OFC! Hear songs lifting up our gender diversity and the power of our community before we head into the City Council!
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.
Earlier this week, I announced that I will be transitioning out of my role as Executive Director of Our Family Coalition at the end of June. And now I’m back to invite all of you all to spread the word about this unique opportunity to lead California’s premier LGBTQ family organization that I love so dearly.
As noted by our Board co-chair Steve Disselhorst, “We are incredibly grateful for the dedication Renata has shown this organization, and we are already working to identify a stellar candidate who can fill her shoes and continue moving OFC forward.”
I invite you to help Steve, the Board, and our team to identify OFC’s next leader! A transition like this provides the organization with a special opportunity to grow in new directions, and we want your vision to inform that.
Again, it has been an honor to work for and with LGBTQ families and our allies in California over the past seven years, and I look forward to onboarding a match made in heaven to lead OFC’s next chapter.
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.
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.
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.