Waldlaw Blog

Monday, August 10, 2009

Don't Ask Don't Tell Has Got to Go!

It is one of those strange truths in my law practice that whenever I get a case raising an issue I've never had to deal with before, as soon as I start thinking hard about the issue I get another case raising the same issue ... and then another ... and so on. So now, after 15 years practicing family law in the LGBT community, all of a sudden I'm in "Don't Ask Don't Tell" (DADT) purgatory. And it's making me nuts. It is 2009, going on 2010. Barack Obama is President of the United States. We're in the midst of an unprecedented economic downturn and a historic struggle over access to health care. And I now have TWO (count them -- TWO) separate and distinct lesbian clients being faced with potential discharges from the armed forces because they have had children with their partners and want to take legal responsibility for those children including providing them with health insurance and other benefits. If these women were able to be "out" lesbians, and given the states they live in, they would not have any problem establishing themselves as legal parents and obtaining benefits for their families. They would not have any problem becoming self-sufficient, independent, legally-sanctioned family units. But because of DADT, I am having to work with their local counsel to craft legal cases for each of them to establish parentage for the children their partners have birthed without ever openly stating that they are in a committed relationship with the birthing partner. I can do this. I will do this. But I will fume the whole time I'm doing it. Again, it is 2009. We have a President who campaigned on a platform of equality for all. And I am having to tie myself into complicated knots to make legal arguments that evade and avoid the truth, out of fear of costing my clients their livelihoods in this most stressful economic moment if I speak the reality of their lives. If anyone reading this knows how to reach our President, I have a few things I'd like to say to him right now!


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