There are more than 2 million children in the United States with lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender parents. Both these children and their parents are negatively affected by the ideology, laws, and policies that this country directs toward LGBT people.
On October 25 CAP hosted an event to highlight this issue. CAP, along with the Family Equality Council and the Movement Advancement Project, released the report “All Children Matter: How Legal and Social Inequalities Hurt LGBT Families.” The three organizations released the report in partnership with COLAGE, The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, and the National Association of Social Workers; it includes a foreword by the Child Welfare League of America.
In her introductory remarks, CAP Senior Vice President for External Affairs Winnie Stachelberg said, “This report profiles and documents the demographics and experiences of the 2 million children with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender parents, the many ways that state and federal laws hurt and exclude them, and the common-sense policy solutions that can make things better.”
Remarks by Douglas F. Gansler, attorney general of Maryland, followed Stachelberg’s introduction. He said that the report “will change the debate and the nature of the arguments that we hear against same-sex marriage all the time in Annapolis and throughout the country.” He said the report will give focus to how laws and policies affect the children of LGBT couples, not just LGBT couples themselves.
He also said that, on a national level, “Ten years ago, people would have said, ‘There’s no way they’re going to let same-sex couples get married in this country.’ Ten years from now it’ll be a quaint debate, looking back and saying, ‘Remember a time when they didn’t let same-sex couples get married?’ And I think what this report will do is advance that, it really will.”
Ineke Mushovic, executive director of the Movement Advancement Project, and Jeff Krehely, CAP Director of LGBT Research and Communications, gave a presentation highlighting the main points of the report following Gansler’s remarks.
The report shows, Mushovic said, that LGBT families are very diverse. Not only are they “significantly more racially and ethnically diverse than heterosexually headed families” but they are also two times more likely to be living in poverty. LGBT couples living in Mississippi are those who are most likely to have children.
Mushovic and Krehely discussed three areas in which children of LGBT people need to be supported by U.S. laws and policies: stable homes, economic security, and health. For example, LGBT unions have to be legally recognized so that LGBT parents are not in danger of losing their jobs, and so that both can make decisions regarding their children’s health care.
Krehely also outlined policy changes that could help same-sex couples and their children. These included “legally and federally recognizing marriage for same-sex couples,” changing the IRS tax code so that LGBT couples are treated fairly, and doing more research on LGBT families.
A panel discussion followed the presentation by Mushovic and Krehely. The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart moderated the panel, which included Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of the Family Equality Council; Bryan Samuels, commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families; and the Reverend Dr. Dennis W. Wiley, of the Covenant Baptist United Church of Christ.
When asked why there is such a “disconnect” between the states with laws supporting LGBT families and the states in which they actually live, Chrisler said: “As LGBT people, when we become parents, we worry about the things that all parents do. Where’s our extended family support? Who are we going to in times of crisis? And so we go where we grew up, we live near where our families are. We live in places that we can afford, because it’s expensive to have kids.”
All the panelists agreed that LGBT families have the right to be treated as all other families are treated. The “All Children Matter” report is an attempt to show why this is so and also how it can be accomplished through policy changes.
Winnie Stachelberg, Senior Vice President for External Affairs, Center for American Progress
Douglas F. Gansler, Attorney General of Maryland (D)
Jennifer Chrisler, Executive Director, Family Equality Council
Bryan Samuels, Commissioner, Administration on Children, Youth and Families
The Revered Dr. Dennis W. Wiley, Covenant Baptist Church
Jonathan Capehart, The Washington Post