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Gay Lesbian Rights

Gay Lesbian Rights

Legal Issues of Gay and Lesbian Pregnancy

July 14, 2018

When Sharon Bottoms lost custody of her two-year-old son in 1993, she was appalled by the decision of the court system. Sharon’s sexual orientation was the sole reason the court pulled the young child from his home and placed him in the legal custody of his maternal grandmother. Many changes in the legal rights of gay men and lesbians have occurred since that fateful day in 1993, but there remain many of legal obstacles for gay men and lesbians who want to become parents. Most of the legal issues surround the adoption or foster care system, but pregnancy can still be a legally demanding choice.

Getting the Facts Straight

Legal officials and court system once lived by the idea that gay men and lesbian parents would raise children who were gay, molest their children or provide home environments that were detrimental to the successful development of a child. Most court systems have retired these stereotypical ideas thanks to research and clinical studies proving the beliefs improbable or impossible.

Today, gay men and lesbians have the option of surrogacy or pregnancy. For gay men, adoption is the only viable option and comes with legal issues such as dual adoption and legal adoption after surrogacy. In the past legal authorities allowed only one gay male parent to adopt a child. The partner held no legal rights to the child and did not qualify as a legal guardian. This legal obstacle is about more than sexual orientation. When an adoption is legally approved, the first parent loses legal rights to the child. In the case of a gay or lesbian relationship, giving one partner legal rights would then take legal rights away from the second partner. Stepparent adoption laws have existed for quite some time but only covered heterosexual parents until the second parent law was passed.

In some states, gay and lesbian couples have the right to adopt a child together. Both parents are protected and legal rights are assumed as a couple. Due to legal marriage issues in many states, if a partnership is broken, both parents keep legal guardianship.

Lesbians have the option of adopting or giving birth personally. Second parent laws cover lesbian couples who wish to share custody of the biological child. Not every state has adopted the second parent law and thus gay and lesbian couples may have to relocate to a state supporting second parent laws to dually adopt a child.

Information on Fertility and Pregnancy you can Trust.

 

Gay Lesbian Rights

Hospital Rules and the Rights of Gay and Lesbian Parents

July 14, 2018

Before April 15, 2010 – gay and lesbian couples were given no legal rights in a hospital setting. If a partner was hospitalized for pregnancy related complications, surrogate health issues or any medical problem, partners were only allowed to visit the patient if the hospital was willing to bend the rules and this only occurred on an individual basis. No legal rights were given to gay and lesbian couples in regards to hospitalization, medical care or medical decisions. On April 15, 2010 – President Barack Obama addressed this issue by releasing a statement regarding the status of same sex couples and hospital care. The statement changed the face of the medical community.

Gay and Lesbian Couples Now Have a Say in Visitation

According to the statement published on the White House website, hospitals receiving funding through the Medicaid and Medicare systems were to allow gay and lesbian patients the right to designate who could visit and make medical decisions on their behalf. The decision, while greatly affecting the gay and lesbian community was about more than the rights of people with specific sexual orientations.

In year’s part, widows or widowers could spend their final days in the hospital without the comfort or support of a friend when family members were not around or no longer living. Hospital rights were only extended to immediate family members and while some hospitals or floor nurses chose to bend the rules, these cases were not regulated giving all patients the same legal rights.

The declaration by President Obama does not cover private hospitals and thus gay and lesbian patients in private hospitals may not have the right to designate visitors. There are legally binding “Patient Bills of Right” adopted on state level, however that may impact the rights of all patients, even those in private hospitals. North Carolina, Delaware, Nebraska and Minnesota have all revised the Patient Bill of Rights to reflect the declaration made by President Obama.

Legal issues still exist for gay and lesbian couples. There remain battles to be fought on the path of equality. Giving a patient, whether a gay man or lesbian, the right to make their own personal visitation and health care choices bleeds into other aspects of legality and compassion. While some battles are won, others are being fought in courts across the United States and the world. Gay and lesbian couples do not have all the legal rights of heterosexual couples as of late, and should always review Patient Rights statements before voluntarily going into the hospital.

 

Gay Lesbian Rights

Gay and Lesbian Parenting – Should My Partner Adopt?

May 12, 2018

The Second Parent law opened the doors for dual parenting in gay and lesbian households. Before the law took effect, gay and lesbian parents were forced to choose which parent would have legal custody of a child or accept the fact that the biological parent was the only legal parent recognized by law. Just because the Second Parent law allows the non-legal partner in a gay or lesbian relationship to apply for legal parental rights, does not mean every couple should take that step.

Legal Binds Between Gay and Lesbian Partners

The legally binding contract of marriage is not available in all states for couples of the same sex. If the couple is not legally married, issues could surface if the couple were to split while having shared custody of a child or children. Once both partners have adopted a child, they are both legally responsible for the health and financial well-being of that child. Moreover, both have legal rights as parents identical to those of heterosexual parents.

The issue is not about acceptance of these parental responsibilities, but of support in terms of hashing out the details of shared parenthood after a relationship has ended. For married heterosexual or homosexual couples, there is a step-by-step process in many states that force parents to go through parenting classes and meet with a mediator if a common agreement on parental rights cannot be found. These classes are often a part of the divorce process.

If a gay or lesbian couple is not legally married, there is no court system needed to end a relationship. However, the adoption of a child continues to bind the two together until the child reaches legal age. When discussing the adoption of a child by the partner, this fact should be thoroughly covered and possibly discussed with an attorney present.

Legal Options for Partner Adoption

If a partners choose to share custody of a child, regardless of the whether one partner is a biological parent or not, a parental agreement may be drawn up by legal counsel. The parental agreement would cover the course of action to be taken after a split, legal rights accepted by both parents and a viable schedule of visitation that could be observed. Similar to a prenuptial agreement, gay and lesbian couples may wish to have this document drawn and signed before allowing a partner to legally adopt a child in the home.

 

Gay Lesbian Rights

LGBT Discrimination: Legal Rights and Mental Health

January 19, 2018

As LGBT individuals we already experiencing the shame and guilt of abuse but we may feel also now the pressure to hid our true identity so that we can use services such as shelter, support groups or crisis lines. The belief is if I pretend to be heterosexual I will get more acceptance and care for my situation. Or there is the pressure to “come out” to get help and risk that information not being kept confidential and losing your home, job, custody of children etc. With our LGBT status made public, as nothing in treatment is absolutely confidential especial when law enforcement is concerned, negative life changing events may happen due to lack of local and/or state laws. We have limited protection compared to our abused heterosexual counterparts. Disheartening is that even with me sharing this information with you, they will be many that will not take it further and seek help!

Often LGBT victims are not joined financially to their partner, so ending the relationship is met with little resistance in the money sector. What if though there is conjoined financial responsibilities, such as paying mortgage, there are no legal structures in place that assure that assets are divided equally. Heterosexual have no idea how much laws protect them and how we are seating ducks risk everything for who we are.

Conventional resources for domestic violence often lack training, expertise and sensitivity in understanding LGBT relationship and abuse. We have to deal with other bias, stereotypes, and homophobia. Society also uses the information of finding out that gays hit each other as another reason why homosexuality is immoral and dysfunctional, which makes finding genuine and help difficulty as well as making us feel even further isolated and alone in our pain.

Even more painful to me is that my own community is unsupportive of one of us being abused and hurt. As small as our community is often abuse will travel fast within our circles and sides may be taken as well as disgust of the abuse from within our social networks. This makes the abused even more exposed and vulnerable.

We are trying to fight so hard for society to accept us, many want to maintain or create an image that there exist no problems or disturbing behavior in our community. There is a fear in us if we give this world any more reasons to set us aside we will never reach freedom, so we hide our parts of the dysfunction found in our community instead of building bridge to get healthier and fight a greater more supported fight! Which is again what drives me everyday the need to help my community healthier, happier, and supported?

If we don’t acknowledge that gays have serious problems such as drugs, alcohol, domestic violence, abuse like any other community, resources will remain limited and we will continue to suffer!

I have been met with support as well as resistance to my new journey on building a link and bring together and connecting as many LGBTs as possible but if we don’t know each other and that we are there for one another we will feel isolated. I don’t want to feel that way, alone, why would I want anyone else especially one of my own? I am no better then anyone else and I don’t deserve anymore or any less then anyone else and neither do you!

 

Gay Lesbian Rights

Legal Protection for Same-Sex Couples

October 2, 2017

Has anyone considered a compromise solution to the issue of legalization of same-sex marriages?

As an attorney who has spent years conducting research on the advantages and disadvantages of marriage vs. living together, my viewpoint is a legal one, unobscured by religious or moral questions. Legal recognition of a status for these couples is called for, as is their current need for self-help in making the laws work for them while they are still in flux.

Traditionally and legally, marriage has been defined as a union of a man and woman. Changing that definition is at the heart of the problem. Marriage, throughout history, has had more to do with procreation than romantic love or legal convenience. This legal definition and the issue of procreation have both been used to bolster the denial of the right of same-sex marriage.

What same-sex couples need, and should have, is the ability to form a legal relationship. The semantics used to describe this relationship should not matter as much as the rights and duties arising from it. Denial of these rights is the discrimination same-sex couples decry. We should not forget that only during the last generation was the denial of the right of marriage to members of different races overturned. The law is meant to serve the needs of the members of society – including same-sex couples.

My compromise solution is a law which allows same-sex couples the right to a legal relationship without the hot-button title of “marriage.” With a simple change of terms, these couples could become legal “domestic partners” which confer the same rights and duties of their state’s marriage contract. Similar licensing statutes could be enacted, along with the inevitable relationship dissolution laws.

The marriage contract from any state comes with built-in advantages and disadvantages. Married couples are bestowed with automatic inheritance rights. They enjoy the right to sue for loss of consortium if a third party injures their spouse, denying them services and companionship. Because a married couples has rights, they cannot be denied hospital visitation or the right to make medical decisions for each other. Employers often offer medical coverage and benefits to spouses of employees. Why should same-sex couples be denied these benefits?

Couples who live together do have flexibility to create their own rights and duties vis-a-vis each other. A same-sex couple can execute wills, written cohabitation agreements, durable powers of attorney for health care (giving a partner the right to hospital visitation and the right to make medical decisions in the event of an emergency) and, with careful financial awareness, create many of the advantages of marriage.

The question of medical insurance and benefits should be balanced against the “marriage penalty tax,” which still exists.

The denial of the choice to same-sex couples, however, is the true discrimination. Same-sex couples should have the option of forming a legal relationship under the law, no matter what title it is given.

Johnette Duff is the author of The Spousal Equivalent Handbook: a legal and financial guide to living together, The Marriage Handbook: a legal and financial guide to your spousal rights, and Love After 50: the complete legal and financial guide. Nationally, she has appeared on Today, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning and in The Wall Street Journal, Self, Smart Money, New Woman and Modern Maturity promoting information on love and the law. Ms. Duff has recently opened a web site titled, love and the law.

 

Gay Lesbian Rights

Laws on Child Custody – Gay and Lesbian Parents

January 20, 2017

There are no specific laws on child custody regarding whether or not a gays or lesbians can be awarded or denied custody, based on their sexual orientation. With that said, it is not uncommon for a judge to rule against a person who is gay, based on his/her own bias on the subject. What this means is that a judge, in most states, cannot rule specifically based on a persons sexual orientation but they can, and often do, rule against those people for other reasons.

If a judge should rule against a gay or lesbian parent who shows otherwise exemplary and upstanding behavior as a parent, and member of society, that parent can appeal the courts decision. There are may gay rights groups that will be more than happy to become involved in such a case if there is any hint of discrimination alleged. This is especially true if the person who was denied custody met every other requirement as a fit parent under the laws on child custody of that particular state.

Generally, if a person can prove that discrimination was present during any court proceedings, they can successfully have the court’s decision over turned, and are usually entitled to a new hearing. The same is true for parents who feel they have been discriminated against based on race or religion according to the laws on child custody. The only thing a court should be focused on is what is in the best interest of the child in question. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

If you are a gay or lesbian parent who suspects they have been denied custody of their child based on their sexual orientation, you may want to contact your local gay/lesbian rights group to find out what type of assistance they may offer you in having the courts ruling over turned.