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Study finds LGBT health care improving

LGBT Health, gay news, Washington Blade, health care, improving

(Public domain image)

WASHINGTON — A new report finds that things are improving for LGBT people because of better access to health care, Benefitspro.com, a Summit Professional Network publication, reports.

Citing a new study called “Health and Access to Care and Coverage for LGBT Individuals in the U.S.” from the Kaiser Family Foundation, the site reports findings that say that while LGBT people still tend to have more physical and mental health challenges than their straight counterparts, their needs are being increasingly recognized and met.

Researchers evaluated data from the U.S. Census Bureau, various state agencies, the Institute of Medicine, the National Center for Transgender Equality, the Centers for Disease Control and more to issue the report. Recent factors such as the Affordable Care Act’s implementation and the Supreme Court’s DOMA ruling were also considered, the article said.

The report credits the Affordable Care Act and the rejection of DOMA with “reshaping the health care and coverage landscape for (LGBT) individuals and their families.”

15
Jan
2014

DOMA lawyer seeks to join Utah marriage lawsuit

gay marriage, same sex marriage, marriage equality, Roberta Kaplan, Defense of Marriage Act, Supreme Court, gay news, Washington Blade

DOMA attorney Roberta Kaplan is seeking to part in the Utah marriage case. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The lawyer who successfully argued against the Defense of Marriage Act before the U.S. Supreme Court filed paperwork on Friday to take part in the federal litigation seeking marriage equality in Utah.

Roberta Kaplan, a private attorney at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, asked the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, where the litigation is pending, to allow her to join the case as a representative of three same-sex couples either seeking recognition of their marriages or the ability to marry in Utah.

In the 14-page filing, Kaplan writes that she should be able to join as an intervenor in Kitchen v. Herbert because of the nature of the litigation as an “extraordinary case.”

“[I]n a case of this significance and importance, which has the potential to shape the trajectory of the quest of gay people for full civil equality, having greater participation by affected parties and greater airing of the issues can only benefit this Court by providing the widest range of arguments and perspectives available,” Kaplan writes in the filing.

The couples that Kaplan represents are Douglas Wortham and Nicholas Nero, an unmarried gay couple who have been in a relationship for thirty years; Lynn Beltran and Claudia O’Grady, a lesbian couple who have been together fourteen years and who married on Dec. 23 in Salt Lake County; and Stanford Rovig and Charles Fluke, a gay couple who have been together for about eight years and married on Dec. 31 in Salt Lake County.

Joining the lawsuit would mean having the ability to file intervenor briefs and participate in oral arguments, which are scheduled for April 10. If the court denies her the opportunity to take part as an intervenor, the brief indicates Kaplan will participate in the case as a friend of the court.

Kaplan, who herself is in a same-sex marriage, gained notoriety last year when she successfully argued on behalf of lesbian widow Edith Windsor the case of United States v. Windsor, which led to the U.S. Supreme Court striking down Section 3 of DOMA.

01
Feb
2014

Doin’ it our way

Lou Ann Sandstrom, Kathleen Kutschenreuter, Foundry United Methodist Church, same-sex weddings, wedding, same-sex marriage, gay marriage, marriage equality, gay news, Washington Blade

Lou Ann Sandstrom, left, and Kathleen Kutschenreuter at their wedding recessional at Foundry United Methodist Church on Sept. 28, 2013. (Photo by Paul Morse Photography; courtesy the couple)

Like the couples themselves, same-sex weddings come in all shapes and sizes.

We got to know three local couples that each went about it in different ways.

Kevin Anthony Rowe, 31, married Will Shreve, 28, last Sept. 19 at the Jefferson Memorial. They kept it “small and quick” so they could tie the knot before Shreve left for the Middle East on Christmas Day for his deployment with the U.S. Navy.

Greg Alexander, 43, married his partner of 13 years, Paul K. Williams, 47, on Jan. 31 at the Baltimore City Circuit Courthouse.

Kathleen Kutschenreuter, 43, and Lou Ann Sandstrom, 54, did the more traditional “big church wedding.” They had about 130 guests when they wed last Sept. 28 at Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, an event that was also the day of their then-6-month-old daughter, Ava Kae’s, baptism.

For myriad reasons, each couple’s decision, they say, made the most sense for them.

David Lett, Kevin Anthony Rowe, Will Shreve, gay marriage, same-sex marriage, marriage equality, gay news, Washington Blade, wedding

Kevin Anthony Rowe, left, with husband Will Shreve, right. They were married Sept. 19 by Rev. David Lett, center. (Photo by John Ellis)

Rowe and Shreve met on a Sunday evening at Nellie’s Sports Bar in January 2012.

“It sounds cliché, but I knew from the minute I met him, this is the guy I was going to end up with,” says Rowe, a budget analyst at National Geographic who also tends bar on weekends at Town Danceboutique. “I’d had long relationships before … but I never had been so sure about something. …. In my mind, it was only a matter of time.”

He says they might have done a destination wedding had time not been so pressing, but they’re happy with how things worked out. They chose the Jefferson Memorial because it’s Shreve’s favorite D.C. memorial.

Rowe says it was all pretty easy to arrange. After downloading a form from the National Park Service website and sending $100, the permit was e-mailed back to them within about three days.

“It was super easy,” he says. “Once you get there, there are only certain areas you can have it, but you just ask at the little guard spot and they tell you where you can and can’t go.”

The ceremony lasted about 15-20 minutes and Rev. David Lett, a friend of the couple, officiated. They were at the site about an hour.

On the Thursday of their wedding, they had dinner beforehand and an after party at Number Nine, a gay bar on P Street, with balloons and Champagne.

Rowe says the separation is hard but he’s making do with Skype, texts and the like. They video chat every couple days and are planning a few trips throughout the year to see each other. Rowe says he keeps busy working two jobs and has great friends around to help fill the void.

Because they had lived together near Columbia Heights about a year before getting married, Rowe says the wedding itself didn’t change how their relationship felt.

“It kind of just felt like another day together,” he says. “We fit so well on every level and it’s so comfortable that just because the label was there now didn’t change anything.”

Greg Alexander, a magazine editor, thought he would feel pretty much the same way. He and Williams had lived together for about 10 years by the time they wed last month.

“It’s hard to describe it,” he says. “We’d been together 13 years and I didn’t expect it to feel any different. We’d exchanged rings on our 10th anniversary, just the two of us in the garden. But something about it, after it was done, not to sound cheesy, but it feels more real. When I look at my ring, it’s not just, ‘Oh, those are the rings we gave each other because we love each other.’ Now it’s more like, ‘Yes, we are married.’”

The couple thought about getting married when same-sex marriage became legal in Maryland in January last year, but decided to wait. When key parts of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) were repealed by the Supreme Court later in the year, Alexander says, “That was kind of the final push we needed.” They waited until 2014 for tax purposes.

“We were pretty sure this is what we wanted,” says Williams, who is president of Congressional Cemetery. “I think we were more concerned we might offend some family members or friends by not doing something bigger, but we talked about it with them and decided to do some nice dinners with our two families a few months later. That’s just kind of the way it worked out best for us, especially for our families and their schedules.”

Alexander says in early discussions that, “luckily we were on the same page about this.” They’d had large parties with family, friends, banquet halls, private chefs and that type of thing for each other on their respective 40th birthdays, so when it came time to tie the knot, they agreed simpler was the way to go.

Paul K. Williams, Greg Alexander, wedding, gay marriage, same-sex marriage, marriage equality, gay news, Washington Blade

Paul K. Williams, left, with husband Greg Alexander the day they married at the Baltimore City Circuit Courthouse. (Photo courtesy the couple)

He says there was some initial concern that doing it so low key might feel anticlimactic, but he says the courthouse didn’t have the bare bones feel he thought it might.

“I thought it might be a little two-second thing like going to jury duty or something, but we were pleasantly surprised,” Alexander says. “It’s actually pretty nice. The people were amazing, which kind of caught us a little off guard. … You go into a little room that’s decorated and they have an officiant do your vows. … We couldn’t get over how excited the city employees were. We had total strangers hugging us and telling us they were so happy two gay men could get married. We didn’t expect that from the Baltimore City Courthouse.”

The license was about $85 and there was an additional $25 charge for the civil ceremony. Three couples joined them for dinner afterward.

“I think the couple needs to really ask themselves how they want to remember the occasion,” Williams says. “I know when we had the big [birthday] party, it went so fast and it was so involved and complex, I barely remember the conversations we had. I think it’s just something that’s very individual and each couple needs to look at themselves and how they like to entertain and decide how they want to do it.”

Kutschenreuter and Sandstrom were struck by Rev. Dean Snyder’s homily when they visited Foundry United Methodist Church in November 2012. As he shared a story of a same-sex couple whose wedding he had officiated the previous day and Kutschenreuter and Sandstrom discovered the church’s social justice, community and LGBT advocacy work, it hit a nerve.

“We really knew we wanted a sacred space to really honor our desire to express our commitment in front of family and friends and we didn’t want to do it on our own, we wanted witnesses,” says Kutschenreuter, who works for the Environmental Protection Agency. “We had a desire to do it in front of a higher power … . To us, we felt for our marriage to have the best chance and to be the most grounded, we wanted it to be grounded in a spiritual context.”

They say the cost of the church was a “drop in the bucket,” considering what they spent on their reception. They said it was “less than $2,000” for the church, clergy and a team of musicians who performed. Foundry offers a discount to members.

“It’s between about $500 and $2,000 depending on how lean or heavy you want to go,” Kutschenreuter says. A reception was held that evening at the Hay-Adams Hotel.

“We have absolutely no regrets about it,” says Sandstrom, who works for the FBI. “We saw it as an investment and everyone had a fantastic time.”

“We did think along the way, ‘Oh my gosh, what are we doing, this is so stressful,’” Kutschenreuter says. “But we weren’t being elaborate just to be elaborate. We were trying to honor the fact that we’re older people, we have a daughter, it was Lou Ann’s Dad’s 90th birthday and both our dads walked us down the aisle, we had people coming from all over; there was just so much more to it than there would have been for a younger couple. But we knew this group of people would never be together any other time so we wanted it to be special. It was definitely worth it.”

13
Feb
2014

Marriage: It’s more (and less) than you think

will, gay news, Washington Blade

In most states, if you die without a Will and you are married and that marriage is recognized, your spouse will inherit a share of your estate.

By LAWRENCE S. JACOBS

In the eight months since the fall of the Defense of Marriage Act, I have witnessed a huge rush to marriage among friends, clients and our community at large. Many of those people dramatically underestimate the changes that marriage might bring to their lives, while at the same time being lulled into a false sense of security that marriage will solve every potential legal issue that comes along. Of course, it won’t.

Hundreds and hundreds of benefits accrue to married couples. Yet, many of those benefits are misunderstood and do not come automatically. For example, the right to own real estate as a married couple does not and cannot happen unless the deed to that property includes that right. Many of my clients own their homes as joint with right of survivorship. But married couples can hold real estate as tenants by the entirety, which is much better. Far too many of my clients live in a home that is only owned by one of them. If something happens to that homeowner, the other one may be literally out on the street. Not surprisingly, we re-deed many of our clients’ homes, which is neither difficult nor expensive. Where the transfer of title may be impractical or undesirable, we create Revocable Trusts for the purpose of owning real estate.

Wills are another area where marriage has unexpected impacts. In most states, if you die without a Will and you are married and that marriage is recognized, your spouse will inherit a share of your estate. The amount of that share varies and can be as low as one-third. A properly drafted and signed Will can override those rules. For couples with children, the default rules can be even more problematic because minors cannot inherit money directly, either under a Will or because they were named as the beneficiary of a life insurance or retirement account. Worse yet, no matter how much money you leave, they will likely get it all in a single payment on their 18th birthday. Wills can and frequently do establish distribution schemes that make much more sense.

Marriage only solves problems for couples when both of them are healthy and alive.  If either of those should become untrue, then the marriage may count for little or nothing. If your spouse becomes incapacitated, you may have medical decision-making rights, but not the right to manage their separate assets.  That is usually accomplished by general durable power of attorney. Otherwise a guardianship petition will be required, which are typically expensive and time-consuming.  If your spouse dies before you, and you die later without a will, your assets will all be distributed to certain family members with parents typically first in line, regardless of whether that makes sense.

Marriage equality also brings with it the trials and tribulations that our straight counterparts have endured for generations. If you break up in the future, the only way to end that legal relationship is through a divorce. While you are still married, you cannot change your Will to completely disinherit your spouse. If you get divorced, the court will determine how to divide your assets. The court may also order you to pay alimony to your former spouse.  However, all of these potentially adverse outcomes can be changed in a properly drafted prenuptial (and sometimes post-nuptial) agreement. A word of caution: do not call a lawyer the week before your marriage for a pre-nup. I typically advise my clients to allow six to eight weeks.

None of this is intended to discourage anyone from getting married. I am a firm believer in that institution and took the plunge myself in 2009. Rather, I view my job as educating people on the issues, so that they can then make good decisions.

Larry Jacobs has helped hundreds of same-sex couples in the Washington area protect their assets and loved ones through partnership planning. He is a partner at McMillan Metro, P.C. and has practiced law for 39 years. He is admitted to the bar in Maryland, Virginia and D.C. You can learn more about Larry and his practice at PartnerPlanning.com.

28
Feb
2014

Time for a new employee manual

manual, gay news, Washington Blade

A review of existing employment manuals is especially important when there are significant changes in the laws governing the employer/employee relationship.

By JOHN J. MATTEO

The beginning of the New Year is always a good time for companies and employers to review their existing employee manuals or employment policies to insure they are compliant with current law and with their own practices.  An old adage states that the only thing worse than not having an employment manual or written policies is to have them but not follow them. This adage reflects the need to insure that your policies comport with your company’s actual practices and that such practices are consistent with applicable law.

A review of existing employment manuals is especially important when there are significant changes in the laws governing the employer/employee relationship, as we have seen in 2013. These include the Windsor decision issued by the Supreme Court that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, the implementation of some portions of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), the push for mandatory sick leave by some jurisdictions, the IRS’s continued focus on properly classifying employees v. independent contractors, and the EEOC’s stated strategic goal of focusing on workplace discrimination. Any one of these issues would require a revision to most employer’s policies and manuals, but together they call for a complete revamping and review of the way policies are formed and enforced by most employers.

D.C. employers have been used to protecting gay employees from discrimination given the D.C. Human Rights Act; however, employers in Maryland and Virginia have not had a state law with the same level of protections, although Maryland has moved in that direction. Given the Windsor decision and subsequent IRS guidance, gay couples that are lawfully married in a state or jurisdiction recognizing such unions may avail themselves of the same rights as heterosexual couples when filing their tax returns. The effect on employers in the region (where two of the three major jurisdictions recognize gay marriage) is that they cannot deny certain benefits to gay employees who are legally married. Employers should be sure that these protections are clearly set forth in their employment manuals.

Much has and will continue to be written about the ACA as its provisions are implemented but employers – especially smaller employers/companies need to be prepared. The most important lesson at this juncture is that employers with fewer than 100 employees need to begin to prepare their workers for the changes that have now been delayed until 2015. This will include mandatory participation in the local health care exchanges, as well as mandatory minimum benefits that must be provided by almost all employers.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued public statements that are clear — elimination of workplace discrimination will be one of the major focuses of the commission. Accordingly, employers need to be well trained on the EEOC standards so that business owners and managers can insure adherence to EEOC rules and regulations. These standards should also be well described in the company’s employment manual and procedures so that the company has guidance, employees know their rights and if a complaint is made both parties will know the process to follow.

Another important feature that should be clearly set forth in employment manuals or procedure policies given the EEOC’s stated goals, are the rights afforded to those seeking maternity, paternity and other family leave benefits. Depending on which local jurisdiction a company is situated in and how many employees are employed, the laws will differ. It is important for the employer to know these rules, to clearly state the company policy in the manual and most importantly to consistently apply them to all employees.

These are just a few highlights of provisions that employers should make sure are part of their employment manuals or policies and are some of the most important given recent EEOC statements. Other provisions that also should be clearly defined are policies related to full time/part time distinctions, Internet use and privacy, confidentiality, termination procedures and severance benefits.

In sum, the lessons are simple — employers should be educated by a professional on the myriad laws governing the employer/employee relationship and should seek out qualified advisers to assist them in drafting consistent policy manuals to avoid the risk of employment claims.

 

John J. Matteo is president and chair, Business & Employment Practice Groups, Jackson & Campbell, P.C.

This is part of a series of articles by Jackson & Campbell on legal issues of interest to the LBGT and greater business community.  Jackson & Campbell is a full service law firm based in Washington with offices in Maryland and Virginia. If you have any questions regarding this article, contact John J. Matteo at 202-457-1678 or jmatteo@jackscamp.com. If you have any questions regarding our firm, please contact Don Uttrich, who chairs our Diversity Committee, at 202-457-4266 or duttrich@jackscamp.com.

28
Feb
2014

Gay marriages have begun in Michigan!

Last night a federal court struck down Michigan's gay marriage ban, the 14th such victory since US v. Windsor.

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22
Mar
2014

Same-sex marriage opponents blast DOMA, Prop 8 decisions

Harry Jackson, Hope Christian Church, gay news, Washington Blade

Bishop Harry Jackson is among those same-sex marriage opponents who criticized the Supreme Court for ruling against DOMA and Proposition 8 (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Same-sex marriage opponents on Wednesday blasted the U.S. Supreme Court after it struck down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8.

Concerned Women for America President Penny Nance described the two rulings as “the Roe v. Wade of marriage,” referring to the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion in the country.

“While the justices sit in their high chairs, these decisions will have very real-life consequences for American families, especially as it relates to our religious liberties,” she said. “Those who hold a Biblical view of marriage can expect much persecution from the government in the years to come.”

Fox News Radio host Todd Starnes tweeted “Supreme Court overrules God” after the justices announced their decisions. He added it “won’t be long before they (the justices) outlaw the Bible as hate speech.

Bishop Harry Jackson of Hope Christian Church of Beltsville, Md., also took to social media to criticize the DOMA decision.

“Laws cannot be enforced; justice is always the loser,” he tweeted. “Criminals crowd out honest people and twist the laws around.”

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops categorized the rulings as “a tragic day for marriage and our nation.

“The Supreme Court has dealt a profound injustice to the American people by striking down in part the federal Defense of Marriage Act,” the group, of which New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan is the president, said.

The group is among those who joined National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown; Ruth Institute President Jennifer Roback Morse; American Values President Gary Bauer; New York State Sen. Ruben Diaz, Sr.; and Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the North Carolina Values Coalition and others at an anti-gay marriage rally on the National Mall in March after the justices heard oral arguments in the Prop 8 case.

“By striking down the federal definition of marriage in DOMA, the court is asserting that Congress does not have the power to define the meaning of words in statutes Congress itself has enacted,” Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said. “This is absurd.”

Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who unsuccessfully sought to place a proposed constitutional amendment on her state’s 2004 ballot that would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman, is among the members of Congress who criticized the Supreme Court’s rulings.

“Marriage was created by the hand of God,” she said. “No man, not even a Supreme Court, can undo what a holy God has instituted.”

“It’s pretty hard to believe that the Supreme Court would say that the 85 Senators, 342 members of the House of Representatives, and Democrat President Bill Clinton – all who supported DOMA when it was signed into law nearly 20 years ago – voted for DOMA literally seeking to injure and impose stigma on gay individuals,” U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) added. “That may be the perception of five Justices, but it is simply not true. I’ve always felt that marriage was an issue best left up to each state, and that’s essentially what the Court ruled today. But this ruling is a disappointment because instead of allowing the American people and their elected representatives to continue the debate about same-sex marriage, the Court instead used its own personal opinion to tip the balance.”

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who on Tuesday petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn a lower court’s ruling earlier this year that struck down the commonwealth’s anti-sodomy law, said in a statement the state “has followed the traditional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman for more than 400 years.” He also noted Virginians in 2006 approved a constitutional amendment that banned nuptials for gays and lesbians.

Cuccinelli, who is also running for governor against former Democratic National Committee Chair Terry McAuliffe, who supports same-sex marriage, added he feels the Prop 8 and DOMA decisions will have no impact in Virginia.

“The court’s two decisions on marriage make clear that the rulings have no effect on the Virginia Marriage Amendment or to any other Virginia law related to marriage,” Cuccinelli said.

26
Jun
2013

Breaking: SecDef orders 9 rogue red-state National Guards to recognize spouses of gay US troops

National Guard in 9 mostly-southern red states have defied DOD orders to recognize spouses of gay troops.

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01
Nov
2013

Married gay Md. pastor celebrates Court rulings

Rob Apgar-Taylor, Maryland, DOMA, Supreme Court, Marriage, Gay News, Washington Blade

Rev. Apgar-Taylor married his partner, Rob Apgar in Massachusetts in 2004 and praised last week’s supreme court rulings. (Photo by Corey Clarke)

Rev. Rob Apgar-Taylor of Grace United Church of Christ in Frederick, Md., was an unlikely same-sex marriage advocate to some who gathered alongside him at the U.S. Supreme Court on June 26.

The gay pastor who married his husband in Massachusetts in June 2004 received a number of questions from LGBT rights activists, journalists and passersby about whether he was “for us or against us” as they waited for the justices to issue their decisions in the two cases that challenged a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 that banned same-sex marriage in the state. Apgar-Taylor told the Washington Blade he hoped their rulings would be “bold.”

“I hope that they’re willing to take a stand in this issue,” he said.

His wish came true less than an hour later when the justices announced their decisions that found DOMA unconstitutional and struck down Prop 8.

“They did the right thing,” Apgar-Taylor told the Blade in a follow-up interview. “They were able to work on the side of justice and on the side of compassion for families who need it the most.”

Born and raised in New York’s Hudson Valley, Apgar-Taylor said he wanted to become a pastor for as long as he could remember.

“I was three years old and when all the other little kids wanted to be policemen and firemen and cowboys and Indians, I wanted to be a minister,” he said. “It’s just always been there.”

Apgar-Taylor became a pastor in Pennsylvania after he received his master’s of Divinity from Wesley Theological Seminary in D.C. and his doctorate of Ministry in Spiritual Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary.

He and his now ex-wife to whom he was married for 20 years had five children.

They divorced after Apgar-Taylor came out to her in the early 2000s, but they remain “good friends.”

Apgar-Taylor met his future spouse, Rob Apgar, at a Harrisburg, Pa., karaoke bar shortly after his divorce.

“We started talking to each other and we were singing karaoke,” he recalled. “By the end of the evening about four hours afterwards we exchanged phone numbers. And the next day we got together for dinner and had our first date.”

The couple tied the knot in Cambridge, Mass., on June 13, 2004 — a month after Massachusetts’ same-sex marriage law took effect after the state’s Supreme Judicial Court’s landmark 2003 decision that struck down the commonwealth’s ban on gay nuptials took effect — while Apgar-Taylor took a summer course at the Episcopal Divinity School.

“There’s something sacred in the nature of marriage,” he said. “It’s about covenant; it’s about choosing to be in someone’s corner whether it feels good or not. It’s about loving someone whether or not you feel loving or whether they even act loving.”

Apgar-Taylor, who is also a pastor at Veritas United Church of Christ in Hagerstown, Md., in February became the first openly gay minister of a mainline Protestant church in western Maryland when Grace United Church of Christ installed him.

The Frederick congregation in the spring of 2012 became the first mainline church in the area to host a same-sex wedding when a gay couple that married in D.C. renewed their vows during a ceremony that Apgar-Taylor officiated. Grace United Church of Christ also served as the headquarters for the Evangelical Reformed United Church of Christ’s efforts in support of the referendum on Maryland’s same-sex marriage law that voters approved last November.

Apgar-Taylor said he has received what he described as hate mail from the Army of God, a group that advocates for violence against abortion providers and gays. A same-sex marriage opponent outside the Supreme Court described him as “a disgrace” and said he “was going to hell” before the justices issued their DOMA and Prop 8 rulings.

“That’s what you’re going to get when you’re in my line of work,” Apgar-Taylor said, while noting the majority of people whom he meets are what he described as supportive. “You’re going to have enemies on the conservative Christian side.”

As he discussed the Supreme Court decisions with the Blade, Apgar-Taylor referenced a person he knows whom he said was unable to make end of life decisions for his partner and receive “all the rights we should have as married couples.”

“It’s degrading and dehumanizing to tell somebody you could spend 16, 18, 20 years loving someone and sharing your life with them, but at the moment at your life at your life when you’re the most devastated [say] sorry you were just a friend,” he said. “It’s humiliating to devalue someone’s relationship that way.”

Apgar-Taylor described the Supreme Court rulings as “incredibly important” for him and his husband on a both a legal and a financial level. He told the Blade he went to bed after the justices issued their decisions knowing that they were protected “for the first time in my marriage.”

“There’s nothing anyone can do to come in and tell me that I can’t make end of life decisions for him and make sure his wishes are known,” Apgar-Taylor said. “There’s nothing anybody can do to come in and take away stuff that we have earned and gotten together. There’s nothing anybody can do to come in and tell him that I was not his husband, that we were legal strangers. That’s incredibly important.”

04
Jul
2013

Poll: Country has grown more accepting of LGBT Americans

Supreme Court, gay marriage, same sex marriage, marriage equality, Proposition 8, Defense of Marriage Act,

The Supreme Court (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

A new Pew Research Center poll finds the vast majority of LGBT Americans feel the country has become more accepting of them over the last decade.

92 percent of the 1,197 LGBT adults who responded to the survey the group conducted between April 11-29 said society has grown more accepting of them since 2003. Respondents cited a variety of reasons that include knowing someone who is LGBT, President Obama and other high-profile figures advocating in support of gay issues and same-sex couples raising families.

Pew announced the survey results against the backdrop of the anticipated U.S. Supreme Court decisions on the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act.

93 percent of respondents said they support same-sex marriage, compared to 51 percent of the general population. Only 32 percent of Americans backed nuptials for gays and lesbians in 2003.

39 percent of those who responded to the Pew survey said same-sex marriage has drawn too much attention away from other LGBT-specific issues. In spite of this position, 58 percent of respondents said nuptials for gays and lesbians should remain a top priority for the LGBT rights movement.

Maryland is among the nine states and D.C. in which gays and lesbians can currently marry.

Delaware’s same-sex marriage law will take effect on July 1, while nuptials for gays and lesbians will become legal in Minnesota and Rhode Island on Aug. 1. The Nevada Assembly last month approved a bill that would repeal the state’s constitutional same-sex marriage ban that voters approved in 2002.

Sixteen states and D.C. have also added gender identity and expression to their anti-discrimination laws. Thirteen of those states and the nation’s capital include trans-specific protections in their hate crimes statutes.

Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro Padilla García last month signed a bill that bans anti-LGBT discrimination in the U.S. commonwealth.

The New York Assembly in May once again approved a measure that would add gender identity and expression to the state’s non-discrimination and hate crimes laws. The Delaware House of Representatives next week is expected to vote on a similar bill.

In spite of these legislative advances, respondents said they continue to face discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.

39 percent of those who took part in the Pew survey said a family member or close friend rejected them at some point in their lives because of their LGBT identity. 30 percent of respondents reported they have been physically threatened or attacked, while 29 percent of them said they have felt unwelcome in a church or another place of worship.

Nearly a quarter of respondents said an employer has treated them unfairly. 58 percent of respondents said they have been the target of anti-LGBT slurs or jokes.

13
Jun
2013