Rainbow Families

Connecting, Supporting, & Empowering LGBTQ Families in the DMV

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Our blog is focused on sharing knowledge and thoughtful analysis of issues and topics relevant to LGBTQ families and prospective parents.
  • Monday, June 26, 2017 10:13 PM | Anonymous

    Exciting news from the Supreme Court today, June 26 - the two-year anniversary of their marriage equality ruling! The justices ruled today that gay couples are entitled to equal treatment on birth certificates reversing the Arkansas Supreme Court ruling in Pavan v. Smith.

    Holding: Having chosen to make its birth certificates more than mere markers of biological relationships and to use them to give married parents a form of legal recognition that is not available to unmarried parents, Arkansas may not, consistent with Obergefell v. Hodges, deny married same-sex couples that recognition.

    See the press release from the National Center for Lesbian Rights below. The National Center for Lesbian Rights was one of three legal firms in the case.

    https://meltwater-apps-production.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/images/56a01bbde61d28e19968c15a/NCLR%20press%20release%20logo_1498485004121.png

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    Contact: 
    Lauren Gray
    Director of Communications
    National Center for Lesbian Rights 
    Office: 415.365.1324 
    Mobile: 215.983.3099
    LGray@nclrights.org 

    On the two year anniversary of marriage equality decision, Supreme Court reverses Arkansas' attempt to defy Obergefell
    Arkansas couples challenged Arkansas' "blatant refusal" to list same-sex spouses on their children's birth certificates

    (San Francisco, CA, June 26, 2017)-Today, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the Arkansas Supreme Court's decision in Pavan v. Smith which denied same-sex married couples' right to be named on their children's birth certificates just as other married parents are. The Arkansas decision caused these families serious harms, complicating parents' ability to consent to emergency medical care, enroll children in school or recreational sports, travel abroad, and generally care for their children. By treating these families differently the decision also subjected them to official stigma and bias, sending a message that they are unworthy of equal recognition by the state. The families in this case were represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), Arkansas attorney Cheryl Maples, and Ropes & Gray LLP.

    In a decisive victory for these families, the Supreme Court summarily reversed the Arkansas Supreme Court decision without requiring oral argument or additional briefing. The Court said: "The Arkansas Supreme Court's decision, we conclude, denied married same-sex couples access to the 'constellation of benefits that the Stat[e] ha[s] linked to marriage.'"

    "We are grateful to the Court for sending a clear message that it will not tolerate attempts to flout the Court's clear holding in Obergefell that married same-sex couples must be given the full panoply of protections tied to marriage under state law," said NCLR Family Law Director Catherine Sakimura. "Today's decision means that millions of married same-sex couples across the country can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that this type of blatant discrimination against their families will not stand. Marriage equality is settled law and protects same-sex parents and their children from discrimination. Arkansas' blatant refusal to follow Obergefell could not stand."

    In Pavan, married couple Marisa and Terrah Pavan, like many couples, used an anonymous sperm donor to conceive their child. And in 2015, the Pavan Family gave birth to their daughter in their home state of Arkansas. At the hospital, the Pavans completed an application for their child's birth certificate, listing both spouses as parents. But the Arkansas Department of Health unilaterally decided to omit Marisa's name on the birth certificate, listing Terrah as the only parent. The state treated these married parents' marriage as though it did not exist.

    Another Arkansas married couple, Leigh and Jana Jacobs, experienced the same type of discrimination when Leigh gave birth to their son in 2015.  They were issued an Arkansas birth certificate naming only Leigh as a parent despite listing both parents on the application.

    "Today's Supreme Court decision protects same-sex married couples and their children from discrimination and strengthens the rule of law," said Douglas Hallward-Driemeier, partner at Ropes & Gray LLP and co-counsel in the case with NCLR. "Marriage equality is the law of the land, and this decision sends a clear message that states must follow the law and treat all married couples equally."

    Under Arkansas law, when a married couple has a child, the spouse of the birth mother is automatically listed on the birth certificate as the child's parent, regardless of how the couple conceived the child or whether the spouse is genetically related to the child. Both the Pavan and Jacobs families were denied this right. Today's ruling reiterates that Obergefell requires different-sex and same-sex married couples to be treated equally under the law. The ruling comes on the two-year anniversary of the Court's June 26, 2015 decision in Obergefell.

    "Arkansas is our home. We are rooted there. Our families are there. Today's decision guarantees that the family we love will be respected and protected in the home we love," said plaintiff Marisa Pavan.

    "My wife, Leigh, and I just welcomed our new baby daughter, Willa Fern, into the world," said plaintiff Jana Jacobs. "Today's decision gives me comfort that my growing family, and other Arkansas families, will receive the respect and protections we deserve." 

     ###

    The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. www.NCLRights.org


  • Monday, October 10, 2016 11:56 AM | Anonymous

    On Tuesday, September 27, 2016, the National Parent Teacher Asssociation (PTA) hosted a webinar in collaboration with the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) "Embracing Family Diversity: Welcoming LGBTQ Families Webinar". The webinar is part of the National PTA's Every Child in Focus Leadership Series.

    Webinar description, "Family Engagement in children’s education allows kids to perform better in school, and navigate more easily some of the challenges of growing up, such as bullying. Today’s PTA is the vehicle through which engaged parents can accomplish great things for their children and ensure their overall success. In order to create inclusive PTAs which welcome all families, family diversity must be taken into consideration. How can your PTA create a welcoming culture for all families?"

    Webinar Participants:

    • Laura Bay, President, National PTA
    • Ellen Kahn, Director of Children, Youth, & Families Program at HRC
    • Tony Bonetti, Director of Community Engagement & Program Coordination at Rainbow Families & PTA President at His Daughter's Elementary School

    CLICK HERE to learn more.

    View the webinar in its entirety by CLICKING HERE. Approximate Running Time: 60 Minutes.

  • Tuesday, June 14, 2016 10:14 AM | Anonymous

    Like you, we are shocked and deeply saddened by the devastating act of hate and terror targeting our community that left 49 of our LGBTQA brothers and sisters dead and dozens more injured in Orlando this weekend.

    During this difficult time, we would like to provide you with some resources to help you talk with your children about this tragedy in an age-appropriate manner:

    American Psychological Association – Helping Your Children Manage Distress in the Aftermath of a Shooting

    As a parent, you may be struggling with how to talk with your children about a shooting rampage. It is important to remember that children look to their parents to make them feel safe. This is true no matter what age your children are, be they toddlers, adolescents or even young adults. Consider the following tips in this resource for helping your children manage their distress.

    http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/aftermath.aspx

    Mayo Clinic – Helping Children Cope: Tips for Talking About Tragedy

    When a tragedy — such as a natural disaster, mass shooting or terrorist attack — occurs, it can be hard to talk to your child about what happened. How do you explain it? How much will he or she understand? Find out how to start the conversation and what you can do to help your child cope.

    http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/childrens-health/in-depth/helping-children-cope/art-20047029

    NBC Today - How to Talk to Children About Shootings: An Age-by-Age Guide

    The sinking feeling is becoming all too familiar: When mass shootings occur, parents have to figure out how to talk to their children about violence. There's no one way to address tragedies with children, and how parents approach it depends both on the child's age and temperament. The American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend avoiding the topic with children until they reach a certain age - around 8, but again, it depends on the child.

    http://www.today.com/parents/how-talk-children-about-shootings-age-age-guide-t59626

    SAMSHA - Tips for Talking with and Helping Children and Youth Cope After a Disaster or Traumatic Event

    Children and youth can face emotional strains after a traumatic event such as a car crash or violence. Disasters also may leave them with long-lasting harmful effects. When children experience a trauma, watch it on TV, or overhear others discussing it, they can feel scared, confused, or anxious. Young people react to trauma differently than adults. Some may react right away; others may show signs that they are having a difficult time much later. As such, adults do not always know when a child needs help coping. This tip sheet will help parents, caregivers, and teachers learn some common reactions, respond in a helpful way, and know when to seek support.

    http://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content/SMA12-4732/SMA12-4732.pdf

    Common Sense Media - Explaining the News to Our Kids

    Kids get their news from many sources, which are not always correct. Here are tips on how to talk about the news -- and listen, too.

    https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/explaining-the-news-to-our-kids

    And as parents, we also need to be certain we take care of ourselves for our children’s sake. 

    For taking care of yourself, please visit this resource:

    American Psychological Association - Managing Your Distress in the Aftermath of a Shooting

    You may be struggling to understand how a shooting could occur and why such a terrible thing would happen. There may never be satisfactory answers to these questions.

    We do know, though, that it is typical for people to experience a variety of emotions following such a traumatic event. These feelings can include shock, sorrow, numbness, fear, anger, disillusionment, grief and others. You may find that you have trouble sleeping, concentrating, eating or remembering even simple tasks. This is common and should pass after a while. Over time, the caring support of family and friends can help to lessen the emotional impact and ultimately make the changes brought about by the tragedy more manageable. You may feel that the world is a more dangerous place today than you did yesterday. It will take some time to recover your sense of equilibrium. Meanwhile, you may wonder how to go on living your daily life. You can strengthen your resilience — the ability to adapt well in the face of adversity — in the days and weeks ahead.

    http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/mass-shooting.aspx


  • Monday, September 14, 2015 9:49 PM | Anonymous

    Rainbow Families DC wants to build upon the success of the initial Montgomery County Play Group that took place at Cabin John Regional Park on August 8, and in response to the requests for LGBT family play groups, we are looking for volunteers to help initiate regional playgroups throughout the DC metropolitan area - DC, Northern Virginia, and Maryland.

    Volunteers serve as the play group coordinators and help to welcome families who attend. As a volunteer, you determine the date, time and location that works best for you, and we’ll help spread the word to families in your area.

    If this role sounds like a good fit for you and you would like to learn more about volunteering, please contact Rainbow Families DC at info@rainbowfamiliesdc.org.

    We look forward to hearing from you!!

Rainbow Families, 5614 Connecticut Ave., NW, #309, Washington, DC 20015-2604

P: (202) 747-0407 E: info@rainbowfamilies.org Copyright 2011-2016

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