Over at TheGrio, I wrote about a new study titled “LGBT Families of Color: Facts at a Glance” which concludes that children in LGBT families of color face a double stigma. I want to share some of the legal obstacles as well as proposed remedies.
Generally, LGBT couples who have children are considered de facto parents, where in many instances only one parent has a legal or biological tie to the child. Current laws make it quite difficult for the non-biological parent to adopt the child.
According to the report, these outdated laws, “undermine families” economic strength by denying access to safety net programs, family tax credits and health insurance simply because families do not fit within expected norms. Antiquated laws can leave children destitute when parents who lack legal ties die or become disabled. These laws can also wrest children away from parents when custody is awarded based on inflexible definitions of family as opposed to what is in the best interest of the child. Children of color, in particular, are more likely to be raised in diverse family configurations that include de facto parents and are more likely to be raised by LGBT parents.”
Under current laws these children can be denied health insurance, financial protections if one or both parents pass away, protection if a parent becomes disabled and legal rights for both of their parents to visit them in the hospital.
The report states that, “[b]ecause most employers are not required to offer health benefits to the partners of LGBT workers (or the unmarried partners of heterosexual workers), LGBT families are often faced with purchasing health insurance privately (at a much higher cost) or doing without. As a result, LGBT adults have much lower rates of health insurance coverage than heterosexual adults.”
The policy suggestions include new laws which make it easier for the second parent to adopt, equal access to government safety net programs, and anti-bullying legislation to protect children from harassment.