Dana Rudolph

Lesbian and Gay Parents Jumping Through Hoops

Filed By Dana Rudolph | April 04, 2011 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality, The Movement
Tags: finance industry, LGBT families, New York Times, parenting

The New York Times ran an article last week on "The Extra Hoops Gay Parents Must Jump Through" gay-marriage.jpgto gain legal and financial protections. Three experts - a lawyer, a financial planner, and an accountant (which sounds like the start of a joke, but it's not) - offer their advice to lesbian couple in Michigan with two children.

It's worth a read, and if you're like me, your blood boils regularly this time of year as you fill out your tax forms and think about the financial inequities we face. I'll note, though, that unlike the couple in the example, some couples (my spouse and I, in fact) would have actually paid more in taxes this year if the federal government recognized our marriage.

That doesn't mean we're against marriage equality, of course. With rights come responsibility, and we'd be more than willing to pay up if we also gained access to all of the other benefits (financial and otherwise) of legal recognition.

It's great that the NYT is looking at financial and legal issues for same-sex couples - but I feel obliged to point out that one mom of the couple in Michigan is a commercial litigator. Even though the other mom is staying home with the kids, I'm guessing they're doing alright financially. And they're both white.

In fact, if you look not only at most media coverage, but also at the best-known fictional portrayals of LGBT parents right now - Academy Award nominee The Kids Are All Right, Jodi Picoult's New York Times bestseller Sing You Home, and ABC's Modern Family - you could easily believe all lesbian and gay parents are white and middle class (and that all LGBT parents are gay or lesbian). That doesn't make these fictional accounts bad - any positive depiction of LGBT families is a good thing - but they show only one part of the picture.

Recent data from the Williams Institute at UCLA, however, has shown that same-sex parents are more common in the South than elsewhere, and black or latino same-sex couples are twice as likely as white ones to be raising children. They are also more likely to be struggling financially.

I'd love to see more coverage of the hurdles for these families. The NYT touched on the topic in a piece they did back in January. Let's hope they and other media outlets continue to keep them, and the rest of the LGBT spectrum, in the picture.

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Even with marriage equality though, you wouldn't have to file together. You could still file separately.

There's that protest about people filing together going on. There's some risk, since the IRS isn't just going to change the rules.