Two weeks ago I joined a national post-election phone call about possible upcoming changes in our lives (thanks, Tracy). The call organizers were Marriage Equality, NCLR, and Our Family. They believe that because of the legal nature of the Obergefell ruling on marriage equality, it is unlikely that marriage equality will be overturned. However, these national LGBTQ rights organizations had several strong recommendations, which I am passing along to you.
They now recommend that married lesbian couples do a second parent adoption. The reason is that a court order of adoption is entitled to full faith and credit from other governmental entities, whereas a birth certificate is considered an administrative document, which is not. I want to tell you that I am struggling with telling people that they should do an adoption. I was very happy that my adoption practice was made mostly irrelevant with national marriage equality. There are also additional issues facing trans parents in this context.
Another thing that came out of the call was to encourage trans people to change their gender markers on passports, driver’s licenses, Social Security accounts, and other government documents in case you aren’t able to do it later. I have access to some links for those if you need them. (Changing gender marker on passport: http://www.transequality.org/know-your-rights/passports)
In addition, LAMBDA LEGAL has these suggestions:
DO THESE THINGS NOW:
- If you are transgender and your identity documents don’t reflect who you are, it is a good idea to update your documents — including any state-issued IDs, passport and Social Security record — before the new administration takes office. Lambda has a whole Know Your Rights section on this topic.
- If you are a same-sex couple raising children, it’s important that both parents have secure legal ties to your children. If you have not done a second-parent adoption or a joint adoption, that may be an important step to take now if it’s possible in your state. A formal adoption judgment from a court can give important security — even if both parents’ names are already on each child’s birth certificate — because court judgments must be respected state-to-state and by the federal government. If you are not married, and if your state does not permit a formal adoption judgment for unmarried parents, we suggest you seek a parentage order in states where that is possible. Other suggestions include making sure that each child’s Social Security number record lists both parents as the child’s legal parents, and obtaining a passport for each child that lists both parents as the child’s legal parents.
- Get your life planning documents in place. Create or update your medical power of attorney or health care proxy and living will. The hospital visitation policy put in place by the Obama administration is consistent with state laws and should remain in place under a Trump administration. No change in federal policy can undermine these documents. It is important to have these legally enforceable written documents stating your wishes about medical care and decision-making, and about who may visit you.
OTHER ISSUES TO WATCH
- While Trump has said he wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, he has recently suggested he may only amend it, and any changes will take time. In the meantime, be sure you know whether your insurance plan is covered by the Affordable Care Act or other law and have a plan in case protections under the ACA are rolled back.
- While not new, and we continue to fight them, we expect additional RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) and FADA (First Amendment Defense Act) laws to be introduced at the state and federal level. This was a concern before the election and with the election results, has increased.
- Issues that also disproportionately affect the LGBTQ community including immigration, religious freedom, women’s health and reproductive justice will also be under attack. It is important that we stand together and support LGBTQ people with multiple identities and our allies.
- Also anti-discrimination work at the state and federal levels
Like many of you, I was shocked by the election results and anxious about what we’re about to experience. If you have questions or need legal representation or referrals, please don’t hesitate to ask me. And please feel free to pass along this information to anyone who might benefit.
Lisa E. Schuchman