October 26, 2011

We Are Married And Lydia Is A Stranger To Her Own Kids By Law


"We are legally married and Lydia is a stranger to her own kids by law."

Naz and Lydia are legally married in California and have three young children.

Lydia isn’t recognized as their legal parent, and isn’t listed on their birth certificates.

Because the federal government does not recognize same sex marriage, LGBT families with children pay higher taxes, have unequal access to health care benefits and many government safety net programs, and as a result are more likely to grow up in poverty. The children could also be denied legal ties to one of their parents.

Movement Advancement Project, Family Equality Council and Center for American Progress sponsored a study called  “All Children Matter: How Legal and Social Inequalities Hurt LGBT Families."

"The reality is if you look at today's modern families, they come in all shapes and sizes," said Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of Family Equality Council.

The laws and policies we have in place haven't kept pace with that changing reality," she said.

An estimated two million children are being raised in such households, the report said. They live in 96 percent of U.S. counties in racially and ethnically diverse families, it said.

Their children are as happy, healthy and well-adjusted as their peers raised by heterosexual parents, it said.

But such families are more likely to live in poverty than married heterosexual households, the report said.

In 31 states, it is very challenging for same-sex parents to establish legal ties for their children to both parents, Chrisler said. Thus a child could be left vulnerable if a parent dies or the relationship dissolves.

The report detailed more than 100 state and federal policy recommendations, including ensuring access to health insurance and care, educating doctors and schools about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender families and revising medical decision-making laws.

It also highlighted legalization and federal recognition of same-sex marriage as an important step to protecting children raised in those homes.

Maggie Gallagher, a co-founder of the National Organization for Marriage, which opposes legalization of same-sex marriage, said a change in the federal marriage law would not better protect children.

Marriage between a man and woman best protects children by having a mother and father in the same family, she said.

But there are no studies to support having a mother and father, in the guise of a man and a woman, is superior or more effective. With all the money that those people spend on legal fees in court, and on photoshopping pictures, you would think they would find a better use for their money.

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