Frequently Asked Questions
Our team collaborated with movement partners including COLAGE, GLAD, and NCLR to answer our families’ most pressing questions. You can preview some of these questions here — or click this link to download the full factsheet.
How does the Dobbs decision impact the LGBTQ+ community?
LGBTQ+ people are directly harmed by the Supreme Court’s decision reversing Casey and Roe and eliminating the fundamental right to abortion. LGBTQ+ people assigned female at birth require abortion care for the same broad range of reasons that cisgender women do and, in some instances, are more likely to require such care. (These issues were presented to the Supreme Court in an amicus brief submitted by numerous LGBTQ organizations.)What’s more, the Court’s willingness, for the first time in its history, to eliminate a fundamental freedom that it had previously recognized is alarming, and the language signals looming threats to other freedoms that are fundamental to our families—and, frankly, to everyone.
I’m LGBTQ+ and worried about my access to abortion. How can I find support and reproductive healthcare in the wake of the Dobbs decision?
The Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs has devastating consequences for LGBTQ+ people, not only when seeking an abortion but for the children they already have, their health, and their ability to support themselves and their families. And, as the dissenting justices in Dobbs recognized, those consequences will fall the most heavily on those with the fewest resources, which disproportionately includes families of color.
It’s important to know that in most states, abortion remains legal. People who need care should go to abortionfinder.org. If you need to access abortion in a state other than the one in which you live, Brigid Alliance is an LGBTQ+ friendly resource. There are also dozens of abortion doulas across the US who are queer and trans, and ready to support you and your family. A great place to start for more information is the Queer Doula Network.
In addition, it is important to remember that emergency contraception, including levonorgestrel morning after pills like Plan B are still available and can be purchased in pharmacies or online without a prescription. While levonorgestrel does not have an impact on an existing pregnancy, it is a safe and effective way to prevent an unwanted pregnancy from occurring.
What is the status of marriage equality/Obergefell v. Hodges now?
Marriage equality is the law of the land and must be respected in all 50 states and by the federal government. In Obergefell v. Hodges, the U.S. Supreme Court held that states must permit same-sex couples to marry, must treat their marriages equally, and must recognize their marriages from other states. This remains binding law in every state.
The Justices had different opinions about the impact of Dobbs on Obergefell v. Hodges (marriage equality) and Lawrence v. Texas (sexual intimacy) and Justice Thomas suggested that Obergefell and Lawrence, among many other cases should be revisited. We know that is scary but nothing has changed. While alarming, the Dobbs opinion does not mean that Obergefell or Lawrence will be overturned.
What the language in Dobbs does mean is that in the coming months and years, we are likely to see attacks on marriage and our relationships—just like we are already seeing other attacks on LGBTQ+ people, families, and children in the states.
What if people or institutions question my marriage now?
As a reminder, despite the mention of Obergefell in the Dobbs decision, marriage equality remains the law of the land. You are still able to get married, and your existing marriage is valid and must be respected everywhere.
But if you encounter people or institutions questioning your marriage, we strongly urge you to contact us.
How will Dobbs affect LGBTQ+ family-building as it relates to IVF treatment?
Fertility care such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) is an important path to parenthood for so many people, LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+ alike. Since IVF involves creating embryos and can result in additional embryos, some have expressed worry about the implications of Dobbs on this important reproductive health care.
The Dobbs opinion did not speak to this issue directly. However, without the protections of Roe v. Wade, it is possible that state lawmakers may feel empowered to create barriers for people to access reproductive medical procedures like IVF, or that some will say that existing abortion bans also affect or restrict assisted reproduction. This is deeply troubling for LGBTQ+ people and anyone who needs access to IVF to build their family. Whether your state laws on abortion will restrict IVF remains to be seen, and you should consult with a lawyer with expertise in assisted reproduction in your state before beginning your family-building efforts to understand the legal landscape.
It should be noted, of course, that access to IVF is already a challenging path to parenthood. A limited number of states mandate insurance coverage for IVF, and it is financially inaccessible for so many. Work is ongoing to protect and expand access to fertility care such as IVF.
What can I do right now to feel more secure and protect my marriage?
There are solidly accepted steps for all people to protect their families even apart from marriage. Marriage normally provides automatic protections in many ways, but there may be times when these other protections can cut through the controversy and get you access to your spouse and allow you to care for them if the need arises. These documents are called estate planning documents, and it is best practice for every couple to have them—LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+. Those documents include:
- Power of Attorney – a legal document that empowers your spouse (or another person) to make financial decisions in case you are unable to do so.
- Health Care Proxy (or similar document) – a legal document that empowers your spouse (or another person) to make health care decisions in case you are unable to do so. This document may also allow you to authorize your spouse to access your medical information and to visit you in the hospital.
- Will – a legal document where you describe what you would like to have happen to your children and property in the event of your death.
Unmarried partners can also use these documents to protect their relationships. These are also important for unmarried partners since they do not have the benefit of default marriage protections.
There are state-specific rules about estate planning documents and how they are to be drafted and executed, and legal support is recommended especially for wills. We can help you with referrals to lawyers to assist you with estate planning documents. Please reach out using the contact information below.
Steps LGBTQ+ Families Can Take to Protect Their Family
As we have long said, the best way for LGBTQ+ parents to protect their family is to ensure that their parent-child relationship is legally recognized by obtaining a court order of parentage or adoption. This is true even if you are married and both parents are listed on a child’s birth certificate.
That’s right, even if you are already listed on your child’s birth certificate. This is because while the birth certificate reflects the legal presumption that any child born into marriage is the child of both parents, it is not a legal judgment establishing parentage and could be vulnerable to a legal challenge down the road if unexpected circumstances arise.
Further, if you are someone whose identity is not accurately recognized on your child’s birth certificate—maybe you are misgendered or your parent relationship is listed inaccurately—obtaining a court order of parentage or adoption would address any room for confusion. There are many paths to parentage depending on what state you live in. Toggle the dropdowns below to learn more about the various paths you can take to secure your parent-child relationship through a court judgment or decree.
Many LGBTQ+ parents adopt a child who was born to other parents, and many LGBTQ+ parents use co-parent (sometimes called second parent or confirmatory) adoption to confirm or secure an adoption of a child born to them through assisted reproduction.
Each state adoption law and process differs. Some states, for example, require home studies for co-parent adoptions, and other states have a more streamlined process for co-parent adoption. It is important to consult with a local adoption practitioner or local court clerk on adoption in your state.
Once an adoption is complete, you get a decree of adoption that is a court judgment that receives recognition and protection in all jurisdictions. An adoption decree that is properly issued from a court with jurisdiction is final and irrevocable and cannot be undone. Keep reading about confirmatory adoption →
In some states, parents through assisted reproduction can seek a parentage judgment through a process that is more streamlined than adoption. It is important to consult with a local family law practitioner or local court clerk in your state. A parentage judgment that is properly issued from a court with jurisdiction is entitled to recognition and respect in all jurisdictions.
Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage
Federal law requires states to provide a simple civil process for acknowledging parentage immediately before or after the birth of a child, known as a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Parentage (VAP).
VAP forms are generally short affidavits in which the person who gave birth as well as the other parent – such as an unmarried genetic father – affirm that they are a parent and take on the rights and responsibilities of parentage.
Properly executed, a VAP is the equivalent of a court decree of parentage, has the binding force of a court order, and is valid in all jurisdictions.
As of now, eleven states allow certain LGBTQ+ parents to establish parentage through signing a VAP (sometimes called an acknowledgment of parentage). Those states are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.
Each state has slightly different requirements for signing the form. More information is available at GLAD’s FAQ on VAPs. It is important to consult a local family lawyer to see if your state allows LGBTQ+ parents to sign VAPS in your personal circumstances.
Looking for attorneys? Reach out to us for attorney referrals or contact our friends at COLAGE, GLAD, and NCLR. The National LGBTQ Bar Association has a Family Law Institute that has attorneys in many states. Click here to access that directory.
Parenting and Self-Care
From state laws to the Supreme Court, our rights are under attack. And, of course, taking action to protect against these threats is absolutely crucial. But, for parents and caregivers who are navigating this current political climate, legal and financial obstacles, and the everyday stresses that come from finding, forming, and sustaining a family—how do we care for ourselves in these moments? Keep Reading →
Family Equality is committed to protecting and supporting everyone’s freedom to find, form, and sustain their family however they choose. If you’re looking for support, guidance, and protection as you navigate your family journey post-Dobbs—or if you’re an ally looking for ways to get involved—we suggest the following resources:
- For legal support contact:
- The National Center for Lesbian Rights’ Legal Helpline by clicking here or calling 800-528-6257.
- GLAD’s Legal Helpline by clicking here or calling 800-455-GLAD.
- For LGBTQ+ affirming attorneys to begin the process of securing legal parentage, visit the LGBTQ+ Bar’s Family Law Attorney Directory.
- For emotional support and community connection, join us at one of our virtual peer support spaces or check out our friends at Queer Birth Project and Our Family Coalition.
- For children with LGBTQ+ parents looking for support and community connection, check out our friends at COLAGE by clicking here.
- For 1:1 support navigating family formation or abortion services, check out the Queer Doula Network.
- For opportunities to get involved in reproductive justice work, check out the Taskforce’s resource, “Queering Reproductive Justice.”
- For resources, news, and tools related to advancing reproductive rights, we recommend you support the Center for Reproductive Rights.
- To be notified when Family Equality releases new resources or has opportunities for you to take action, sign up for our email updates here and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.