Discrimination Takes its Toll: Children Raised by Same-Gender Couples Twice as Likely to Live in Poverty

According to a new report, “31% of same-sex couples raising children have household income below $50,000 compared to 27% of married heterosexual couple raising children.”

The report, put together by the Movement Advancement Project, the Family Equality Council and the National Association of Social Workers along with several other groups finds, “children living in LGBT families face undue
financial burdens, just because their parents are lesbian or gay.”

However, its authors also point out that,”Despite misleading claims from those who oppose LGBT parenting, more than 30 years of rigorous social science research shows that children raised by LGBT parents are just as happy, healthy and well-adjusted as children raised by heterosexual parents.”

The report points to the lack of legal recognition for LGBT families as a key contributing factor in creating unnecessary financial burdens.

“Those impacted the most are low-income LGBT families, who are also more likely to be families of color, and therefore already facing discrimination and
a separate set of barriers as well. For low-income LGBT families, the additional economic obstacles to protecting and providing for their family can be insurmountable,” say report authors.

Jennifer Chrisler, the executive director of the Family Equality Council tells Metro Weekly, “I think many people have a perception that LGBT people in general and that our families are middle class to upper-middle class, white and affluent. The reality is that our families are more racially and ethnically diverse than the population as a whole,” she said. “Same-sex couples of color raising children are more likely to be poor and there are more LGBT people of color, proportionally, raising kids than Caucasian couples raising kids.”

The report says there is also, unfortunately, a wide gap between LGBTQIA families and their straight counter parts when talking public assistance; medical benefits; food and nutrition; housing; education; jobs and training; energy assistance; and other services, such as child care.

Chrisler tells Metro Weekly, “gay and lesbian couples are most likely to raise children in the South. They’re living in the states that are hardest to keep those families health and strong: the most stigma, the worst laws, the toughest environment.”

The report’s authors estimate that there are currently around 2 million children being raised by 1 million LGBT families in the U.S.

You can download the full report for yourself  HERE.

Read the Metro’s full interview with Chrisler HERE.

Group Says It’s Serious about Ending LGBT Discrimination in Idaho

“No one submits legislation just to get a hearing. Thousands say this is the year to pass it,” tweeted Add The Words, Idaho! organizer Mistie Tolman following a less than optimistic story posted last week by a Boise radio station.

Tolman and dozens of other organizers say it will be hard for state lawmakers to ignore their constituents call to end discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Idaho this year.

Since October, hundreds of sticky notes have been emailed, mailed, texted and called in from across the state all with one single message, “add the words gender identity and sexual orientation to Idaho human right’s amendment.”

This isn’t the first time lawmakers have been asked to pass the legislation. Various volunteers and organizers have  been pushing for the change since 2006. Despite bipartisan support for the bill, each year the legislation has not only not made it out of committee but it has been denied a simple hearing as well.

When the largely Republican legislature convenes on January 9th, however, the amount of public support for the effort should dispel any excuses that Idaho voters aren’t supportive of such measures.

“The goal isn’t only to get a hearing but to see the human right’s act amended.” say organizers.

The Idaho Human Rights Act was passed in 1969 protecting Idahoans from discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, national origin, and age. Protections on the basis of disability were added in 2007.

If the act was amended, employers with five or more employees would be prohibited from using an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity as the basis for employment decisions, such as hiring, firing, promotion, or compensation.

It’s a move that, according to a Boise State public policy survey conducted in 2006, most Idahoans support. The message of support has apparently failed in years past to get to state lawmakers.  This year however, with an early start and thousands of Idahoans involved in the effort, organizers say they are hoping to be celebrating its passage.

If you have not yet  mailed your sticky notes to your state lawmakers, now is the time to do it. You can find out more  HERE at the Add The Words, Idaho! campaign’s website.

There will be an Add the Words, Idaho fundraising party on Thursday January 12th, from 5:30-8:30 PM at the Beside Bardenay on the Basque Block in Downtown Boise. It will be hosted by more than 30 human rights leaders from across the state. Cost is a $10.00 to $100.00 donation at the door. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION. 

If you can not attend, you can send a donation to: Add the Words PAC Box 2661 Boise, ID 83701.

Watch as LDS Church Silences Member for Testimony Against Prop 8

Try as it might to deny it, the truth is the LDS church had a bigger role in the passage of California’s ban on same gender marriage then most people realize.  While certainly not the only religious organization supporting the proposition, it can not be denied that its huge network of  members, media and money was utilized  in a big way to ensure Prop 8’s passage.

This video of a brave LDS member testifying against the church’s involvement during what’s known within the church as a “Fast and Testimony meeting” in 2009 speaks volumes.  For one, it shows that not every LDS member supports the churches anti-marriage equality stance.  It also shows  just what happens when a member tries to respectively speak out against institutionalized discrimination during a meeting in which members  are encouraged to openly share what’s on their hearts and minds.

 

 

(Editor’s note: So far the man’s identity remains a mystery as does the outcome of his brave act one his testimony was finished. If anyone has any further information on this video email it to idahoagenda@gmail.com)

Why Hasn’t the President signed an Executive Order that would Help Put An End to Discrimination?

In 29 states, it’s still legal to fire someone because of their sexual orientation. In 35 states it’s still legal to fire someone based on their gender orientation. Though campaigns like changing the Idaho human rights amendment to end this type of discrimination seems to be gaining hold in several states, the president has the power to prohibit federal dollars from going to companies that don’t have non-discrimination protections with a stroke of the pen.

Why hasn’t he done so?

Good question.

It’s  also one that  Washington Blade’s Chris Johnson asked White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on Monday…

“Washington Blade’s Chris Johnson: I want to follow up on what I asked you about earlier on the lack of federal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people in the workplace. “The president supports legislation known as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that would address this issue, but he can also take administration action. He can issue an executive order saying federal dollars won’t go to contractors that don’t have their own non-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. If the president supports legislation to address this issue, what’s stopping him from issuing an executive order that would move toward the same goal?

Jay Carney: Chris, I don’t have anything new for you on that, so I don’t have probably an answer that will move that story along for you. But if you want to ask me, I can look into it for you.”

It’s not the first time the President, who supports federal legislation that would end such discrimination, has been asked the question.

ENDA has been introduced to congress every year since 1994. This year is no exception, though with a republican controlled house it seems unlikely the legislation will make it through congress. That leaves an executive order the only option to get any sort of federal anti discrimination law on the books before the  2012 elections.

The Washington Blade reports that,”In response to a request to follow up on Carney’s comments, Shin Inouye, a White House spokesperson, said later Monday via e-mail, “We have no updates for you.”

In other words, it’s not looking promising.

(Read the full Washington Blade article HERE.)

(If you aren’t familiar with the campaign to include sexual orientation and gender identity to Idaho’s human rights law please click HERE and ask your state lawmakers to, “Add The Words”.)

“Please Don’t Hurt Us”: Reflections on Transgender Day of Remembrance 2011

A couple of weeks ago I asked a transgender acquaintance of mine, who I have the  utmost respect and appreciation for, if they would be willing to write a piece for the Idaho Agenda for Transgender Day of Remembrance.

The friend not only turned me down because they were too busy, but later shot me an e-mail taking exception to one of the posts that I had written listing the days events because I had cut and pasted an announcement that used a typically degrading word for transgender people to advertise an event she was speaking at.

I knew how derogatory the term was, but at the time shrugged it off as someone using the term to make a political point.

I explained to my friend that the announcement was cut and pasted as is.

I had understood their frustration, but not necessarily the tone or the lack of apology once I had explained the situation.  I changed my posting but not without feeling a bit slighted.

In short, my feelings were hurt.

Last night, as a dozen or so of us gathered to remember the 119 transgender men and women who have died within the last year, the local television station showed up to cover the event.

The reporter explained that she didn’t have the right lighting. Several of us gathered around her, with candles in hand, and lit up a local woman who identified herself as transsexual so that she could be interviewed.

As she was talking to the reporter, there wasn’t hardly a dry eye in the crowd. She told of her struggles growing up, the rejection from her friends and family, the thoughts of suicide she had before deciding to live her life fully and openly.

As she was speaking, I started to think about the incident earlier in the week. Of course my transgender friend was upset. I would be too if someone had called me something like “faggot” in an announcement that had been repeated over and over again.

I of all people know the power of words and how they can hurt.

I also know that the threats to the transgender community outnumber the threats to the average gay or lesbian. According to SDGLN.com,”The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs released a report in 2010 that found that transgender women are disproportionately impacted by murder, accounting for 44% of gay and transgender murder victims that year.

Another study by the National Black Justice Coalition found that black transgender and gender non-conforming people face some of the highest levels of discrimination of all transgender people, saying that members of this group had an extremely high unemployment rate at 26%; 41% said they experienced homelessness at some point in their lives; 34% reported a household income of less than $10,000 per year; and were affected by HIV in devastating numbers.”

One of the attendees to the  Twin Falls vigil turned out to be a Baptist minister who started preaching about the sin of homosexuality. As we turned away from his words to focus on the 118 names of those who have died in the last year due to violence and hatred, I couldn’t help but be angry.

Angry at the lives being lost simply because people are trying to live there lives as they are, angry because that preacher couldn’t even begin to understand how much pain and harm his words and beliefs had caused, angry because I had chosen to re-post something that had caused my friend further discomfort and even hurt, no matter what my intentions had been.

The plea during that television interview will haunt those of us gathered in the candlelight for a long, long time I suspect.

“”Do not hurt us please.”

Their story is written in the statistics, “A 2003 Idaho survey of more than 2000 Idahoans including more than 50 transgender individuals, found that 16% of the transgender individuals reported that their employer actually stated they had been denied a job, a raise, promotion or compensation expressly because they were perceived to be gay or transgender.

The same 2003 survey found that 81% of transgender participants reported that they had been harassed verbally by someone using antagonistic slurs that indicated that they thought or knew their victim was transgender or gay.

Over half of  transgender participants in the 2003 Idaho study reported that someone had threatened to do physical harm to them, their partner, child, pet, or other family member because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

In the 2003 study of the 50 transgender participants, 34% said they had attempted suicide at some point in their lives.”

As we closed out the night with a moment of silence, my anger turned once again to resolve.  These precious people are part of my family, my community, my town, country and world. They are among the bravest people I know. My resolve is this: as long as I’m able to breathe, I will do all I can to speak out against words and actions that would cause this beautiful community any harm or hurt.

Should i misstep in that resolve, hopefully someone will always be there to point it out, God help us if they aren’t.

Watch the KMVT news report about the Twin Falls vigil HERE.

To learn more about helping to stop the discrimination of trandsgender, lesbian, gay, bisexual, asexual, queer and intersexual community in Idaho please click HERE.

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