Last week, at the Republican National Convention, a platform was adopted that attacks the ability of LGBT parents to protect our children and denies formal recognition of our relationships.
This week at the Democratic National Convention, the DNC addresses this issue through its endorsement of marriage equality, but both platforms render LGBT families invisible by failing to address our presence in other areas of American life.
As LGBT Americans, our families face higher economic burdens, increased health disparities, decreased access to affordable health care and higher legal and social barriers than other families because of laws and policies that either discriminate against us or simply ignore our existence.
There is no disputing the fact that public opinion about our families has shifted dramatically over the last decade. But the laws of our nation have failed to evolve at the same rate.
For example: The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or disability. But it fails to provide protections on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The patchwork of state and local housing laws is inadequate to prevent the very real discrimination against two dads and their daughters who show up to rent an apartment in Louisiana and are suddenly told that the property is no longer available.
Or consider a child in Arizona who has been in three different foster homes in the last four years and who is finally placed in a home where he feels loved, protected and safe. This home happens to be with a single foster dad. Both the child and the foster parent are eager to make their new family permanent through adoption. However, with Arizona’s law that gives preference to married couples, this child is denied the ability to find his forever family.
There are many more examples in the areas of economic security, immigration, health care, employment and education when our families are denied equal recognition under the law and are therefore excluded from the critical benefits, protections and responsibilities that go along with full citizenship.
Republicans and Democrats have an obligation to engage in a national dialogue on these topics.
The Family Equality Council has outlined ten areas of American life where modern families lack access to full equality under the law. Modern Families: Ensuring the American Dream for all Americans is designed to start a national conversation about these issues.
A powerful message must be sent to leaders and would-be leaders in all political parties – no family should face discrimination or be rendered invisible by party platforms, political posturing, or public policy. It’s time for politicians who talk “family values” to truly value families.
Chrisler is executive director of the Family Equality Counci.l