Edie Windsor, Equality’s Champion, Dies at 88

Edie Windsor, a tireless advocate for LGBTQ rights who became a worldwide icon at age 84 when her lawsuit against the US government led the Supreme Court, in 2013, to strike down the key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act, has died at the age of 88.

“I lost my beloved spouse Edie, and the world lost a tiny but tough as nails fighter for freedom, justice, and equality,” said Judith Kasen-Windsor, who married Windsor last September, in a written statement. “Edie was the light of my life. She will always be the light for the LGBTQ community, which she loved so much and which loved her right back.”

Roberta Kaplan, the civil rights litigator who represented Windsor in her successful DOMA challenge, said, “Representing Edie Windsor was and will always be the greatest honor of my life. She will go down in the history books as a true American hero. With Edie’s passing, I lost not only a treasured client, but a member of my family. I know that Edie’s memory will always be a blessing to Rachel, myself, and Jacob. I also know that her memory will be a blessing not only to every LGBT person on this planet, but to all who believe in the concept of b’tzelem elohim, or equal dignity for all.”edie windsor

Windsor’s victory at the Supreme Court, which came on a 5-4 vote on June 26, 2013, meant that the federal government was obligated to recognize all legal marriages of same-sex couples on the same terms as those of different-sex couples. Windsor arrived before the Supreme Court in her challenge to a federal estate tax bill of more than $360,000 after the 2009 death of her first wife, Thea Spyer.

Windsor and Spyer, both New Yorkers who began dating in 1965, had traveled to Toronto in 2007, where they legally married. The following year, a New York court ruled that the state would recognize legal same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions, despite the fact that such marriages could not yet be formalized within the Empire State. Regardless of New York’s recognition of their marriage, the Internal Revenue Service viewed Windsor and Spyer as legal strangers.

Although Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion in the DOMA case made clear that the court was not ruling on the underlying question of whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry — but instead on the narrower issue of whether the federal government must recognize those marriages legally recognized by the states or foreign governments — over the following two years, district and appeals courts, in a blizzard of pro-equality rulings, drew on the logic of the Windsor decision to find just such a constitutional right. On June 26, 2015, two years to the day after the Windsor ruling, the Supreme Court, in the same 5-4 split, ruled that same-sex couples have a right to marry.

by Paul Schindler, gaycitynews.com – September 12, 2017

Click here to read the entire article.

 

The LGBT Trump Disconnect

The LGBT Trump disconnect is real and attention must be paid to what appears to be the beginning of a not so veiled assault on LGBT rights in America.

First, I must say that there is an LGBT Trump disconnect.  Since I wrote my first piece about LGBT family rights in the Trump presidency, a lot has changed.  I have heard from many people, and I myself wanted to believe, that Trump wouldn’t touch the LGBT gains that we have made during the Obama years.  But his actions have proven different.  His appointments, activity in state courts and the often unintelligible rhetoric we have become accustomed, all suggest that we may not be as safe as some thought we were.

The Appointment Problem – My greatest fears about Trump’s appointments center around the Department of Justice (DOJ), and more specifically, around the civil rights division of the that agency.  First, the long and telling history of Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, the Republican Senator from Alabama who President Trump has tapped to lead the DOJ, is troubling for many more that just LGBT Americans.  According to The Washington Post, Jeff Sessions has claimed to be a civil rights champion, yet he has overstated his experience and, in some cases, lied altogether about his involvement.  Sessions has spent the majority of his career attempting to undermine LGBT equality, the details of which are numerous and troubling.

But the worst of this story is that President Trump has chosen John M. Gore to head the DOJ’s Civil Right s division.  Mr. Gore, prior to this nomination, was in the process of defending North Carolina’s odious trans-bathroom bill.  Prior to that, he defended Republican efforts to gerrymander congressional districts in violation of the civil rights of minority Americans.       This is not only putting the fox in charge of the hen house, but the hens in this analogy are real people who have had their civil rights violated in what should be the most fundamental right this country possesses – the right to vote.  How can they now trust that their best interests will be defended by a person who, up to now, has made a career out of challenging these fundamental rights?

The Visibility Problem – One of the first signs that there might be a distance between Trump’s “accepting” rhetoric toward the LGBT community during the campaign and what he plans to do as president appeared, or rather disappeared, within the first hour after he was sworn in.  The official White House website, www.whitehouse.gov, removed the LGBT rights page which had been there throughout Obama’s last term, and before.  No explanation was given, however, the pro-Trump Twittersphere rejoiced.LGBT Trump

In an equally expedient manner, all data regarding climate change was removed as well from the whitehouse.gov site.  As most LGBT Americans are not one issue voters, this deletion concerned me as much as the LGBT page being removed.  “Out of sight, out of mind,” seems to be the rule of law now.

The Marriage Issue – I referred earlier to things having changed since I wrote LGBT Family Rights in a Trump Presidency.  At that time, the Supreme Court of Texas had declined to re-hear a case which would abolish benefits that the City of Houston provides to same-sex married couples. Literally on Trump’s inauguration day, the Supreme Court of Texas changed its mind, under GOP pressure.  The Republican Governor of Texas himself wrote a brief to the court asking them to reconsider, essentially arguing that the Obergefell Supreme Court marriage decision does not apply to Texas.  In that brief, the Governor wrote of the “Federal Tyranny” of the courts and that Obergefell does not require that same-sex married couples and different-sex married couples receive equal treatment under the law.

In my previous article, I was originally at a loss for identifying a case with a fact pattern that would make it to the Supreme Court which would have the effect of etching away at the Obergefell marriage decision.  This Texas case may be just that.  It would undoubtedly take time to make it to the Supreme Court, and who knows what its makeup will be then.  But the anti-marriage movement’s argument is in development and may take the same amount of time to get its legs.  The Arkansas Supreme Court issued a decision based on the above mentioned logic denying same-sex couples that right to be listed on their children’s birth certificates.  The issue is now before us and we cannot afford to stop paying attention.

After attending the Women’s March in Washington this last weekend, I left with a renewed sense of hope and possibility.  Hundreds of thousands of people made the impossible seem possible.  The greatest lesson that I took from my experience there was that no matter how generous I may have felt before in giving President Trump a chance to govern, I cannot forget, nor should any of us, that he won the election by dividing the country and making it clear that some people were simply not welcome.  Those are not “alternate facts.”  Those are the facts.  

This is the LGBT Trump disconnect.  I fear now that my beloved LGBT community has taken its place among women, black people, brown people, Muslim people and immigrant communities that were so vilified during the election and may have no voice in the Trump administration.  I hope that the LGBT Trump disconnect is a myth, but if past is prologue, we have no option other than to pay attention, remain engaged and share our feelings with everyone we can. 

For more information, visit www.timeforfamilies.com, or email me at Anthony@timeforfamilies.com.  

 

Update – 1/30/2017 – As of Friday, January 27, 2017, the Trump administration has reacted to outrage regarding the removal of climate change information from the Environmental Protection Agency’s website by restoring that information on to the EPA website.  All LGBT information remains missing from the whitehouse.gov site.

 

Update – 2/23/2017 – As of Thursday, February 23, 2017, the Trump administration rescinded protections for transgendered students in public schools.

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Landmark China Same Sex Marriage Case Rejected

China Same Sex Marriage Case Rejected Dealing Gay Rights Movement A Major Blow

BEIJING (Reuters) – A court in China on Wednesday rejected a landmark China same sex marriage case by two men who had sought permission to get legally married, one of the plaintiffs said, a decision that shines the light on gay rights in the world’s most populous nation.

While homosexuality is not illegal in China, and large cities have thriving gay scenes, same-sex marriage is not legal, and same-sex couples have no legal protections.international surrogacy

In what activists hailed as a step forward for gay rights, Sun Wenlin, 26, had lodged the suit with a court in the southern Chinese city of Changsha against a civil affairs bureau that denied him the right to marry.

But after a short hearing, the court turned down his request to marry, Sun said.

“Of course I’m not very pleased about it but I’m not going to give up,” he told Reuters by telephone. “I plan to appeal.”

Sun said he had filed the lawsuit in December because he wanted to form a family unit with his 36-year-old partner.

Sun previously told Reuters he had tried to register to marry his boyfriend at the Furong district civil affairs bureau in June but was rejected by an official who told him “marriage had to be between a man and woman.”

April 13, 2016 – Huffingtonpost.com, via Reuters

Click to read the entire article.

How to teach … LGBT history month

February is LGBT history month – the annual celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender – LGBT Families and people and the impact they have on the world. It’s a topic that staff and students can find difficult to discuss; a recent report found that more than half of England’s teachers feel there is “a reluctance to confront the issue of same-sex relationships and a clear heterosexist assumption”

This makes LGBT history month all the more important. The theme for this year is religion, belief and philosophy, and how all three intertwine in the experience of LGBT families and people. This activity pack from the Proud Trust offers a series of lesson plans and resources on the topic, which can be adapted for students of all ages. Here are some other ways to explore the subject with your classes.
LGBT Families

Primary

Addressing feelings of “otherness” is key in discussions of LGBT rights. This poster from Stonewall gives your class a visual representation of the many different kinds of family set-up. The simple animated images show a variety of families, along with the slogan “Different Families, Same Love”.

The charity has also put together a film called FREE, which follows the lives of four children as they experience family and friendship, and work out what it means to be yourself (including the quote: “when you’re strong enough to be yourself, you free everyone”). The accompanying activity pack includes tasks that ask pupils to write a letter, song or poem and analyse stereotypical statements about gender and identity, such as “girls should play with dolls”.

The Guardian
February 18, 2016
 Click here to read the entire article.

The Regnerus Gay Parenting Study Is Even More Flawed Than We Thought

by Camille Beredjick, May 12, 2015

As they gear up for legal battles nationwide, anti-LGBT activists’ weapon of choice is the infamous “Regnerus study,” a report by University of Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus that claimed to “prove” same-sex parenting is inherently harmful to children. The study has been thoroughly debunked as methodologically and ethically flawed, and experts far and wide — including Regnerus’ own university — have said they want no affiliation with it.

We thought we’d seen it all, but nope — two sociologists are taking another crack at determining the study’s scientific validity (or lack thereof), and what they’re finding is even more absurd than the fallacies we were already aware of.

Indiana University’s Brian Powell and the University of Connecticut’s Simon Cheng actually redid the study for Social Science Research, the same journal that published the original article. Not surprisingly, when they used proper methodology and eliminated “suspect data” — see below for a laughable example — they found that kids fare just as well when raised by a same-sex couple as by a mom and dad.

From Right Wing Watch:

By eliminating suspect data — for example, a 25-year-old respondent who claimed to be 7’8″ tall, 88 pounds, married 8 times and with 8 children, and another who reported having been arrested at age 1 — and correcting what they view as Regnerus’ methodological errors, Cheng and Powell found that Regnerus’ conclusions were so “fragile” that his data could just as easily show that children raised by gay and lesbian parents don’t face negative adult outcomes.

“[W]hen equally plausible and, in our view, preferred methodological decisions are used,” they wrote, “a different conclusion emerges: adult children who lived with same-sex parents show comparable outcome profiles to those from other family types, including intact biological families.”

In his original study, Regnerus claimed adults who had been raised by gay or lesbian parents were more likely to have depression, abuse drugs, engage in criminal behavior, and acquire STDs, as well as have a higher likelihood of having experienced childhood sexual abuse. Regnerus and others have used these findings to testify against marriage equality, but a more detailed look at the study shows that he hardly spoke to any children of same-sex parents at all:

The Regnerus study was promptly scrutinized by fellow social scientists, who pointed out major flaws in his methodology. Many people who he categorized as having been raised by a gay or lesbian parent had spent very little time with that parent or with his or her same-sex partner. Even Regnerus admitted that his data included only two people who said they had been raised for their entire childhoods by a same-sex couple.

Regnerus compared the outcomes of children raised in what he called “intact biological families” (with married biological parents) “lesbian mother” families and “gay father” families, finding differences between “lesbian mother” families and “intact biological families” in 24 of the 40 areas he looked at, and differences between “gay father” families and “intact biological” ones in 19 areas.

But in scrutinizing Regnerus’ data, Cheng and Powell determined that of the 236 respondents whom Regnerus had identified as having been raised by a lesbian mother or gay father, one-tenth had never even lived with the parent in question and an additional one-sixth hadn’t lived with that parent for more than one year. Still more had provided inconsistent or unreliable responses to survey questions, throwing their reliability into doubt. That means, Powell says, that over one-third of the 236 people whom Regnerus classified as having been raised by a lesbian mother or gay father “should absolutely not have ever been considered by Regnerus in this study.”

Click here to read the entire article.

5th Grader’s Delightful Review of “And Tango Makes Three”

Via Mombian.com – March 11, 2015

tangoFifth grader Zoe, at her blog Kids’ Animal Station, has written a terrific review of And Tango Makes Three, the lovely picture book about two male penguins who raise a chick together.

Zoe started her blog in 2012, and bills it as, “For kids who love animals by a kid who loves animals.” The face that Tango is about “cute waddling penguins” qualifies it for coverage—but Zoe’s love for the book goes beyond just that. She explains:

This book has a particular soft spot in my heart, considering I know many people who are within the LGBT community, so this book was one of the first times I actually got a chance to learn about it, since you don’t really get to learn about LGBT people and things like that at the age this book is targeted to.

She adds a touch of humor, noting that when it comes to the acronym LGBT, “half the kids in my school think it’s a sandwich.”

Then she calls for more books like Tango:

What everyone can take away from this book is that families come in all sorts of ways, which is a lesson a bunch of the kids at my school don’t seem to know. . . . It would be better if more books like this were around, because I have noticed that the books you read when you are really young greatly impact your later years,

Click here to read the entire article.

Men Having Babies San Francisco Surrogacy Conference & Expo

By Jenae, allthingssurrogacy.com – February 16, 2015

Recently,  I had the opportunity to attend the Men Having Babies Surrogacy Conference and Expo in San Francisco, CA. I had heard of the Men Having Babies organization before, but until this recent event had not had a chance to attend one of the conferences. So, with three local SurroSisters in tow, we headed into the city for a day to focus on one of our favorite topics….Surrogacy!

My purpose for attending the MHB Conference, was an opportunity to see what the seminar was all about, the type of information they were sharing, resources they’re promoting, and to connect with other surrogacy professionals in attendance. Education is important to me and being the surrogacy advocate that I am, I couldn’t wait for the days activities!

We started the day by arriving at the LGBT Center early to attend the surrogacy professionals breakfast upstairs. It was such a treat to be able to meet so many wonderful organizations, agencies and fertility clinics! I am always up for meeting new agencies, clinics, and organizations as it gives me the chance to find out what they have to offer you all as surrogates and parents to be!

Armed with my camera in hand, and my SurroSisters taking notes, we made our way from the 4th floor (where the professionals and sponsors were set up as the Expo) down to the 2nd floor Rainbow Room where the seminars were being held. The room was close to packed as we entered, with a line of men still at the door checking in for the day’s event.

How great is that to see a room full of at least 200 men eager for knowledge and understanding of how the surrogacy process works?! All those men we shared a room with that day were there with the same goal in mind, to start their family. It was such a great vibe!

Ron Poole-Dayan and Anthony Brown, Esq., both of Men Having Babies, and Judy Appel of Our Family Coalition started things off with a warm welcome and introduction. After introductions and review of the agenda, they quickly went to business. They began with explaining the Surrogacy process (something they’re both familiar with as both Ron and Anthony had their children through surrogacy), information on egg donation, FAQ’s, agency information; as well as what it means to go “independent”. I feel that they did a great job explaining the process and appreciated that they left time for members in the audience to ask questions.

Click here to read the entire article.

Paternity Leave: The Rewards and the Remaining Stigma

New York Times – November 7, 2014 by

Claire Cane Miller

Five months after Todd Bedrick’s daughter was born, he took some time off from his job as an accountant. The company he works for, Ernst & Young, offered paid paternity leave, and he decided to take six weeks — the maximum amount — when his wife, Sarah, went back to teaching. He learned how to lull the fitful baby to sleep on his chest and then to sit very still for an hour to avoid waking her. He developed an elaborate system for freezing and thawing his wife’s pumped breast milk. And each day at lunchtime, he drove his daughter to the elementary school where Sarah teaches so she could nurse. When she came home at the end of the day, he handed over the baby and collapsed on the couch.

“The best part was just forming the bond with her,” said Mr. Bedrick, who lives in Portland, Ore., and went back to work in June. “Had I not had that time with her, I don’t think I’d feel as close to her as I do today.”

Social scientists who study families and work say that men like Mr. Bedrick, who take an early hands-on role in their children’s lives, are likely to be more involved for years to come and that their children will be healthier. Even their wives could benefit, as women whose husbands take paternity leave have increased career earnings and have a decreased chance of depression in the nine months after childbirth. But researchers also have a more ominous message. Taking time off for family obligations, including paternity leave, could have long-term negative effects on a man’s career — like lower pay or being passed over for promotions.

In other words, Mr. Bedrick is facing the same calculus that women have for decades.

Women’s role in society and the economy has been transformed over the last half-century. Today, 70 percent of women with children at home are in the labor force, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But only recently have men’s roles begun to change in significant ways.

Paternity leave is perhaps the clearest example of how things are changing — and how they are not. Though the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 requires companies with more than 50 employees to provide 12 weeks of unpaid leave for new parents, it requires no paid leave. The 14 percent of companies that do offer pay, like Ernst & Young, do so by choice. Twenty percent of companies that are supposed to comply with the law, meanwhile, still don’t offer paternity leave, according to the 2014 National Study of Employers by the Families and Work Institute. And almost half the workers in the United States work at smaller companies that are not required to offer any leave at all.

Even when there is a policy on the books, unwritten workplace norms can discourage men from taking leave. Whether or not they are eligible for paid leave, most men take only about a week, if they take any time at all. For working-class men, the chances of taking leave are even slimmer.

“There is still some stigma about men who say, ‘My kids are more important than my work,’ ” said Scott Coltrane, a sociologist studying fatherhood who is the interim president of the University of Oregon. “And basically that’s the message when men take it. But the fact that women are now much more likely to be at least a principal breadwinner, if not the main breadwinner, really changes the dynamic.”

Click here to read the entire article.

The Building Blocks of a Good Pre-K

WITH the introduction of universal pre-K in New York City, we have created a new entry point into our public school system. This raises a key question: What do we want our children’s first experiences in school to be? What does a good education look like for 4-year-olds?

This summer, Bank Street College of Education led training for 4,000 of New York’s pre-K teachers, including both veterans and hundreds of people who started teaching pre-K for the first time last month. Worried teachers talked about how the pressure to achieve good outcomes on the third-grade state exams has been trickling down to early childhood classrooms in the form of work sheets, skill drills and other developmentally inappropriate methods.

The problem is real, and it is not unique to New York City. Earlier this year, Daphna Bassok and Anna Rorem, educational policy researchers at the University of Virginia, found strong evidence that current kindergarten classrooms rely too heavily on teacher-directed instruction. Their study, “Is Kindergarten the New First Grade?” revealed that the focus on narrow academic skills crowded out time for play, exploration and social interaction. In a 2009 report for the Alliance for Childhood, “Crisis in the Kindergarten,” Edward Miller and Joan Almon reported that kindergarten teachers felt that prescriptive curricular demands and pressure from principals led them to prioritize academic skill-building over play.

This is a false choice. We do not need to pick between play and academic rigor.

While grown-ups recognize that pretending helps children find their way into the world, many adults think of play as separate from formal learning. The reality is quite different. As they play, children develop vital cognitive, linguistic, social and emotional skills. They make discoveries, build knowledge, experiment with literacy and math and learn to self-regulate and interact with others in socially appropriate ways. Play is also fun and interesting, which makes school a place where children look forward to spending their time. It is so deeply formative for children that it must be at the core of our early childhood curriculum.

What does purposeful play look like? When you step into an exemplary pre-K classroom, you see a room organized by a caring, responsive teacher who understands child development. Activity centers are stocked with materials that invite exploration, fire the imagination, require initiative and prompt collaboration. The room hums.

In the block area, two girls build a bridge, talking to each other about how to make sure it doesn’t collapse and taking care not to bump into the buildings of children next to them. In an area with materials for make-believe, children enact an elaborate family scenario after resolving who will be the mommy, who will be the grandpa and who will be the puppy. Another group peers through a magnifying glass to examine a collection of pine cones and acorns. On the rug, children lie on their stomachs turning the pages of books they have selected, while at the easel a boy dips his brush into red paint and swoops the paint mostly onto his paper.

Click here to read the entire article.