They were right: Same-sex marriage ‘changed everything.’ Well, by adding $3.7 billion to the economy.

When same-sex marriage was legalized in the United States in 2015, a lot of conservatives and religious folks predicted it would be the end of the world.  Instead, it added $3.7 billion to the economy.

Same-sex marriage = $3.7 billion.  In fact, on the day same-sex marriage was made legal, searches on the popular website Bible Gateway for “end times” reached an all-time high. Evangelical preacher Pat Robertson claimed that after the decision we’d all be having relations with animals.gay marriage $3.7 billion

“Watch what happens, love affairs between men and animals are going to be absolutely permitted. Polygamy, without question, is going to be permitted. And it will be called a right,” Robertson said.

Well, the world didn’t end and no one has married their cat … yet. But what did happen was a surge of economic activity.

A new study by the The Williams Institute found that since same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide in the United States in 2015, LGBT weddings have boosted state and local economies by an estimated $3.8 billion.

“Marriage equality has changed the lives of same-sex couples and their families,” the study’s lead author Christy Mallory, said in a statement. “It has also provided a sizable benefit to business and state and local governments.”

Since Massachusetts first legalized gay marriage in 2004, more than half a million same-sex couples have married in America.

The economic impact of same-sex marriage has created more than 45,000 jobs and generated an additional $244 million in state and local taxes. Over $500 million in revenue has been generated by friends and family members traveling to and from same-sex weddings.

upworthy.com, by Tod Perry, May 29, 2020

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How Pixar’s ‘Out’ tells a universal gay story

Pixar’s OUT – Cartoons have always been queer — if you knew where to look, says animator Steven Clay Hunter.

“Just think about the number of times Bugs Bunny was in drag,” Hunter jokes.

He has a point. As a kid, I was always looking for queer signals between the lines in cartoons. I found them in places ranging from the same-sex marriage dynamic between chipmunks Chip and Dale to the lesbian-empowerment undertones in “Josie and the Pussycats.” Most of the time I had to search very hard.

“That was all about subtext then,” Hunter says. “Now, it’s on the surface.”

The 51-year-old animator made a gay coming-out story the core of “Out,” a nine-minute Pixar Sparkshorts film that is the first by the studio to feature an openly gay main character and story line. Pixar previously included a character voiced by queer actor Lena Waithe in 2020’s “Onward” who mentions her girlfriend in a scene, and there was a blink-and-you-miss-it possible lesbian couple in 2016’s “Finding Dory.” But “Out,” released May 22 on Disney Plus, quickly became a much-discussed topic in the LGBTQ community because we had never seen anything like it intended for a mainstream audience.

“I wanted to make something my 7-year-old self could look at and say, ‘Oh, that’s me,’ and not play those guessing games,” says Hunter, “to not have to fill in the blanks in your head.”

Datebook.com, by Tony Bravo May 30, 2020

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Aimee Stephens, Transgender Plaintiff in Supreme Court Case, Dies at 59

Aimee Stephens, who was fired from her job in 2013 after she announced to her colleagues in a letter that she would begin living as a woman, won her case in the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Aimee Stephens, whose potentially groundbreaking case before the Supreme Court could have major implications for the fight for civil rights for transgender people, died on Tuesday at her home in Michigan. She was 59.Aimee Stephens

She died from complications related to kidney failure, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented Ms. Stephens.

Ms. Stephens had been on dialysis for some time and entered hospice care in late April, according to the A.C.L.U.

Donna Stephens, Aimee Stephens’s wife, thanked supporters in a statement for their “kindness, generosity, and keeping my best friend and soul mate in your thoughts and prayers.”

Aimee Stephens, a former funeral director, was fired from her job in 2013 after she announced to her colleagues in a letter that she would begin living as a woman.

“What I must tell you is very difficult for me and is taking all the courage I can muster,” she wrote. “I have felt imprisoned in a body that does not match my mind, and this has caused me great despair and loneliness.”

“I will return to work as my true self, Aimee Australia Stephens, in appropriate business attire,” the letter continued. “I hope we can continue my work at R.G. and G.R. Harris Funeral Homes doing what I always have, which is my best!”

Two weeks after receiving the letter, though, the funeral home’s owner, Thomas Rost, fired Ms. Stephens. Asked for the “specific reason that you terminated Stephens,” Mr. Rost said: “Well, because he was no longer going to represent himself as a man. He wanted to dress as a woman.”

The case went to court, and Ms. Stephens won in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in Cincinnati. The case, which is currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, is one of three that are expected to provide the first indications of how the court’s new conservative majority will approach L.G.B.T. rights.

The National Center for Transgender Equality said it expected a decision from the court “perhaps as soon as Thursday.”

An A.C.L.U. spokesperson said Ms. Stephens’s estate would move forward with the case.

In October, when Ms. Stephens traveled to Washington for the Supreme Court hearing of her case, she said she was overwhelmed by the number of people demonstrating on her behalf.NYTimes.com, by Aimee Ortiz, May 12, 2020

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Estate Planning and COVID-19 – Protecting What’s Most Important in a Time of Crisis    

Estate Planning and COVID-19 – Protecting What’s Most Important in a Time of Crisis

Estate Planning and COVID-19 – Like so many of us during this pandemic, our anxieties have been at an all-time high.  The sense of helplessness and the lack of a clear light at the end of the tunnel have many asking what they can do to better protect themselves and their families.  The good news is that we are not completely helpless.  Technology has made communicating easier and many states have adapted their current laws to make it easier to have a sense of control when it feels so distant.estate planning and COVID 19

First, with video conferencing technology, you can speak face to face with an attorney in your area.  Many attorneys are offering complimentary video consultations and you don’t even have to leave your couch.  This type of meeting is likely to become the new normal for attorney consultations and I for one couldn’t be happier.

Many of you may already have some valuable estate planning tools in place.  Understanding the difference between probate assets v. non-probates assets is the best place to start.  If you have a 401(k), an IRA, a life insurance policy or own property as joint tenants with right of survivorship, you have already created an estate plan without knowing it.  Any assets that has a designated beneficiary or that you own “jointly” with someone else, passes directly to that beneficiary or joint owner upon your death.  That is good news when you consider that this aspect of your estate planning may be immune to COVID-19.

Other important benefits that had been instituted in New York State, for instance, stem from Executive Orders signed by the Governor allowing for the remote notarization of documents (NY Executive Order 202.7) and also the remote witnessing of Will signings (NY Executive Order 202.14).  Almost every state has instituted either a remote notary order, a remote witnessing order, or both.  Here is a good place to look to see if your state has such orders.  While each state is different, the goal is to make it easier (easier that even before the pandemic) for people to secure their families and assets.

foster parentsHow do these remote sessions allow for estate planning and COVID-19?  Each state will have a different set of requirements,  but In NY, all parties must be on a Zoom or Skype call simultaneously and in the State of New York, the signers must show their IDs to the notary or witnesses, the signatures must take place in sight of the notary or witnesses.  The signers must fax or scan the documents to the attorney supervising the Will signing, or the notary public, who will then have the witnesses sign, or the notary will notarize the documents.  IMPORTANT: this must happen on the same day as the signing.

It is a good idea to conform the notarization by adding language stating that the signing or notarization are occurring in accordance with the specified executive order.  Also, you may want to consider signing the documents again in the direct presence of a notary after the pandemic has abated as a measure of caution.  This is a suggestion and no mention of multiple signing is present in the current NY Executive Order.

It is important to remember that if you have children and you have not named a guardian for them in your Will ( in most states it is the only document that a court looks to in determining your choice for a guardian should something happen to you and your child’s other parent), now is the time to act.   And if you have been thinking about reviewing your complete Estate Plan, or just your Last Will and Testament, now is the perfect time.

So if you are asking what you can do about your estate planning and COVID-19, there are options.  Consult your local attorney to find out the specifics of your state.  Ask for a video conference so you can speak face to face.  Be proactive and make the most of this quarantine time.  We are doing so much to protect our communities, let’s protect our families at the same time.

Timeforfamilies.com, May 7, 2020 by Anthony M. Brown, Esq. 

Contact Anthony at anthony@timeforfamilies.com.

 

 

Anderson Cooper Welcomes Baby Boy Via Surrogate: ‘I Am Beyond Happy’

Anderson Cooper is a dad — surprise!

Anderson Cooper, the longtime news anchor, 52, revealed the happy news on Instagram Thursday alongside a slideshow of photos of his son, Wyatt Morgan Cooper.Anderson Cooper

Anderson Cooper welcomed Wyatt — who is named after the journalist’s father — on Monday via surrogate, he said. The host also revealed his big news on his show Anderson Cooper 360°.

Wyatt weighed 7.2 lbs. at birth, “and he is sweet, and soft, and healthy and I am beyond happy,” the proud new dad said in his emotional announcement on CNN

“He is named after my father, who died when I was ten,” Cooper explained. “I hope I can be as good a dad as he was. My son’s middle name is Morgan. It’s a family name on my mom’s side. I know my mom and dad liked the name morgan because I recently found a list they made 52 years ago when they were trying to think of names for me. Wyatt Morgan Cooper. My son.”

“As a gay kid, I never thought it would be possible to have a child, and I’m grateful for all those who have paved the way, and for the doctors and nurses and everyone involved in my son’s birth,” he wrote. “Most of all, I am grateful to a remarkable surrogate who carried Wyatt, and watched over him lovingly, and tenderly, and gave birth to him.”

Cooper shared that he never thought fatherhood would be a possibility for him while he was growing up.

People.com, by Ashley Boucher, April 30, 2020

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Fertility Clinics Stay Open Despite Unclear Guidelines

Fertility clinics stay open – Many providers have continued seeing patients through the pandemic, forcing them to choose between clients and staff safety.

Since March, fertility stay open clinics across the country have halted treatments for tens of thousands of people because of Covid-19, forcing patients to suspend their family planning. In recent days, some clinics have reopened, resuming services and procedures despite ongoing coronavirus concerns.

But shifting guidelines and minimal oversight have left clinics to decide for themselves when and how to resume in vitro fertilization, or I.V.F. At clinics where I.V.F. is ramping back up, or never slowed at all, some staff members are concerned about a lack of adequate protective equipment and safety policies.

On April 24, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine issued recommendations for restarting operations, leaving it up to individual clinics to determine how to proceed. The professional society had previously advised fertility clinics to avoid starting new treatments, postpone nonemergency surgeries and shift to telemedicine.

The shutdown generated a flurry of media attention and pushbackfrom fertility doctors and patients. Most clinics paused starting new I.V.F. cycles, which are highly time-sensitive. But a few remained open, even operating at full capacity, causing the industry to debate when to resume care and what counts as medically urgent.

“Fertility treatment is by no means elective,” said Leyla Bilali, a nurse at a fertility clinic in New York City, referring to the consensus that infertility is a disease. “It’s just, right now, it’s not a matter of life or death.”

Clinics that stayed open scrambled to implement protocols compliant with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, such as temperature checks, masks and physical distancing. Still, people have gotten sick. At Reproductive Medicine Associates of New York, seven staff members have tested positive for Covid-19. At Vios Fertility Institute in Chicago, clinicians have reported flulike symptoms but have not been tested because of limited test availability. And several employees at Extend Fertility, an egg-freezing clinic in Midtown Manhattan, fell ill with possible cases of Covid-19.

“We really didn’t feel it was appropriate to go out on a limb, outside major A.S.R.M. guidelines, and keep things open,” said Dr. Bat-Sheva Maslow, M.D., a reproductive endocrinologist at Extend Fertility who tested positive and recovered from the virus in March. “Covid-19 is almost impossible to control at this point. That weighed very heavily with us.” Extend Fertility has since closed its offices to virtually all patients.

Amid the pandemic, clinics face a dizzying array of vague and, at times, conflicting instructions from states, cities and health agencies like the C.D.C. Doctors must interpret guidelines as they see fit — often the case in fertility services, which are largely paid out-of-pocket and where patient care and profit can be at odds.

Because of unclear guidance, in most states it is difficult to tell whether remaining open during the pandemic is legal or if fertility procedures are considered an essential service. New York is an exception: On April 7, the state’s health department issued an advisory deeming infertility treatment an essential service, thus exempt from closure. New Jersey’s governor, in an executive order responding to the coronavirus crisis, made a similar but less specific exemption, referring to general family planning services but not directly to infertility.

NYTimes.com, by Natalie Lambert, May 1, 2020

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