Look, I got comfortable. I know… I know. I shouldn’t have. I’m gay, Black, and a woman, and very far removed from the tip of the privilege ice berg.
True unbridled comfort probably isn’t something I’ll ever truly be afforded in my lifetime, but after gay marriage was legalized (on a national level), and our former president took executive effort to further protect the LGBTQ community from societal discrimination, I was at the very least hopeful and certainly happier. My girlfriend and I talk about getting married and having babies just like regular hetero people. There’s no hesitation or secrecy or drama.
We talk about decorations, invitations, future kids, and the home we will build and fill with her art. The conversations range from “sure you can wear a cape to the ceremony” to “oh we will invite these people and NOT those, and “no you can’t say that during your vows because my grandmothers will be there, girl” ** insert eye roll**” (as you can see my girlfriend refuses to let me be great). But in the midst of our daydreaming I have to remember, everyone isn’t rooting for us. In fact, instead of just ignoring us as we plan our lives together there are people who are actively out there to destroy everything we seek to build. Not just us, but LGBTQ people everywhere.
In July the US House of Representatives voted on a resolution that would essentially allow adoption agencies that deny LGTBQ applicants to legally operate without repercussion or a reduction in federal funding. The new law would allow each individual child welfare agency (and there are a LOT run by religious organizations) to create their own individualized adoption criteria expressly excluding same-sex couples and queer individuals.
The Aderholt Amendment (as it’s called) prevents state funded state or local agencies from punishing (through denial of funds) child welfare agencies that refuse adoption applications to members of the LQBTQ community, due to “sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions.” Additionally, the amendment would allow the government to withhold funds from state agencies that DO prevent child welfare agencies from operating if they practice anti-gay adoption methods. This year Kansas, Georgia, and Oklahoma joined North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia in passing discriminatory laws preventing same-sex couples from adopting and or fostering.
Recently, Mississippi has passed freedom referendums protecting businesses and organizations that seek to deny services, rights, and employment to LGBTQ people based on sincerely held religious beliefs. This means that more states are trying to deny us the right to medical and food services, schooling and housing. It’s a step back for sure and one we should be mindful of.
I bring these things to your attention not necessarily to scare you but to make sure you have the information you need to make informed decisions for yourself and the families you have worked hard to create. Prepare yourself as much as you can for whatever new legislative assault they might try to use in order to diminish our quality of life. Additionally, this presidency and the man who resides at 1600 Pennsylvania is creating an atmosphere where people feel more entitled to boldly present their bigotry. This means that your family who “tolerated” you and your partner could very well become hostile to them should something happen to you. Protect the life you have made through the secure legal processes I will suggest below.
Prepare a will (there are websites that will help you do this but if you can get a lawyer to help especially if you have property and children), name your heirs and the legal guardians of your children. If your partner’s name is not on your child(ren)’s birth certificate, and they are not a legally recognized parent through adoption prepare guardianship affidavits. I would encourage you if you can though to make sure legal guardianship for both parents is already established. Make sure your whole family has passports. Make sure your partner or desired other adult is the beneficiary of your life insurance policy. Anything that you own: houses, cars, residential/non-residential property, stocks, bonds, bank accounts, need to be secured with the name of the proper owner/co-owners and beneficiaries. If you are adding a legal spouse, make sure you define that spouse in your will and other documents where that spouse is a beneficiary.
Here’s the deal, for some reason bigots are obsessed with us. I don’t know why, and I can’t explain it, but here we are. They do not want us to have a moments peace and now they have presidential support for their hatred. We don’t have to be blind sighted by new legislation and we don’t have feel powerless or defeated. Our community and history of full of fighters and we are resilient. Be vigilant, trust your instincts and guard the lives you’ve worked so hard to make.