Making lives easier for LGBT families

Posted on 06 Dec 2013 at 9:10am

The new executive director of  Family Equality Council stops in Dallas for  fundraiser and calls his group the LGBT voice for families

elijah_Blau

MODERN FAMILY | Gabriel Blau, right, the new executive director of Family Equality Council is pictured with his husband, Dylan, and son Elijah.

David Taffet  |  News Editor

Gabriel Blau calls his work at Family Equality Council personal.

In 2008, he and his husband adopted a child, making them one of the three million LGBT parents in this country. Six million children of all ages have LGBT parents, Blau said.

Family Equality Council supports those families with advocacy work to ensure all families are respected. Blau has been in his position as executive director for just three months and said he was attracted to the organization because of what he called its groundbreaking work. He will be in Dallas on Dec. 6 for a fundraiser at a private home.

Blau described Family Equality Council as the LGBT voice for families.

“We have a crisis in this country,” he said.

He said there are 400,000 kids in foster care and 100,000 eligible for adoption.

“There are qualified adults but significant barriers to them adopting,” he said.

Every study indicates gays and lesbians make excellent parents, but changes to laws don’t always reflect those studies, he said, citing a recent amendment to Virginia adoption law. That state recently added what it called a “conscience clause” that allows agencies to discriminate against same-sex or transgender parents.

“If an agency doesn’t want any LGBTQ people, they can do that,” he said. “It’s an awful situation that limits the rights of children looking to have families.”

While Texas law doesn’t restrict gays and lesbians from adopting, bias at some agencies puts obstacles in the way and lack a nondiscrimination law is a problem.

“Personal bias is the greatest problem across the country,” Blau said.

He said that hurts the chances of some children ever finding a permanent home.

“We’re the most likely to adopt children not likely to be adopted by anyone else,” he said, including nonwhite, older and special needs children. “We must put in nondiscrimination laws that put children first.”

Blau listed some of the work his organization has done. He said his staff regularly works with state organizations to help write legislation.

In two cases heard by the Supreme Court this year, Family Equality Council submitted briefs entitled “Voices of the Children.” He said Justice Anthony Kennedy quoted from the briefs and asked in the Proposition 8 case, “What about the 40,000 children in California with LGBT parents?” The influence of those briefs, Blau said, was critical for the LGBT community.

Blau described work his group has done with the federal government to change forms to make it easier for children with LGBT parents.

For the 2014–15 funding cycle, marital status on student aid forms is no longer relevant for applicants whose same- or different-sex legal parents are living together.

Passport applications now have spaces for two parents instead of a gender-specific mother and father, and Social Security cards are also easier for same-sex parents to get for their children because of forms that recognize various types of families.

“They’re thinking of a broader range of parents now,” he said.

Blau said what he does is very simple. He’s an advocate for sensible policies that support families but more than anything, he describes himself as a regular dad.

This week he’s been traveling, but like any dad with a 5-year-old, the night before he left, he spent time with his son.

They lit Hanukkah candles and as much as he’s enjoying meeting LGBT families across the country, he’s looking forward to getting home to his family.

Family Equality Council reception hosted by Bryan Carr and Mark LeDoux, 3828 Alta Vista Lane. Dec. 6. 7–9 p.m. FamilyEquality.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 6, 2013.

Comments (powered by FaceBook)