Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Families Live in the World We Have ....

Last month, North Carolina got some great news on gay second-parent adoption. Up until then, though, second-parent adoptions by gay folks in the state had been in a kind of legal limbo, neither valid nor invalid. Now, they've been validated as long as they're judged in the best interest of the child (though of course anti-equality opposition groups are even now working to undo this decision and its amazing benefits for kids).

This is a great example of the problem with inequality and selectively applied/excluded laws that affect LGBT folks.

Currently, we have a patchwork of laws that affect gay couples and their families across the country. We've got marriage in a few states, civil unions in some places, domestic partnerships in others, and nothing in most. If a gay couple gets married in a state with marriage equality, they may end up in a legal limbo in another state that doesn't recognize marriage equality, much less grant divorces to a gay couple.

Some states support gay parents having second-parent adoption of children, while others remove a kid from a parent's custody if the parent is gay.

Until we have true equality, though, we gay families just have to deal with it. There's a great resource out there that can help: Enter Gideon Alper and his Gay Couples Law Blog.

Though located in Atlanta, he blogs about laws and legal situations across the country. (For example, here's what he says about the recent North Carolina decision.)

"I started this blog because legal information available to same sex couples is limited and hard to find. While there's lots of general information out there on family law and estate planning, gay couples have unique legal needs. That's why I focus specifically on them, instead of just writing about them as part of a more general legal blog."

Topics range from adoption and child custody to marriage and divorce, wills and estate planning to tax law.

Until we have one set of laws that apply to everyone the same, this blog is a great starting point for deciphering and parsing the legal crazy-quilt that's out there.

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