By Lorie Burch, Owner & Founding Attorney of Burch Law
We know at Burch Law that many LGBTQ Texans are worried about the future of their rights and marriage after the recent SCOTUS decision overturning Roe. If you haven’t heard, and without getting too legally technical, some Justices as well as anti-LGBTQ advocates have used the REASONS for overturning Roe as a basis to overturn pro-LGBTQ cases, including our two marriage equality cases. Other privacy related cases are also potentially on the chopping block.
So what do we know?
Well, not a whole lot yet. But, sadly, ANYTHING is on the table. Marriage equality could be overturned, the privacy of intimate relationships are in question, and parental rights for LGBTQ parents are even more questionable. One question we are getting a lot about is WHERE you got married. It does not help to get married in Texas again if you are already married in other states or countries. And, likewise, you do not need to get married in another state or country. If they invalidate marriages, it won’t matter WHERE you got married.
So what can we do?
There are definitely some pro-active measures that you can take NOW. And, in fact, all of these are legal protections you SHOULD have regardless of any court decisions.
- Get your estate planning documents in order! This includes Wills, trusts, and powers of attorney. And PLEASE do NOT try to do this online or through a firm that doesn’t have any expertise on estate planning AND LGBTQ rights.
- If you already have an estate plan in place, you may want to consider options for avoiding court and government involvement, such as probate. A Will DOES go through probate court, which means your decisions will be subject to a court’s review and is arguably easier to challenge by family. Other planning, such as revocable living trusts, can keep everything private and out of the government’s oversight.
- If you are considering getting married, you may want to do so sooner than later. We don’t know if current marriages will be overturned or not, but this will give you the most protection as possible in case it is just future marriages that will be banned.
- If you haven’t done a second parent adoption DO IT NOW! Being listed on a birth certificate does NOT grant parental rights. Reach out if you have questions about whether a second parent adoption is needed in your case.
- Finally, DON’T SUPPORT BUSINESSES THAT DON’T SUPPORT YOU! Especially during Pride Month, it’s easy to get fooled by companies jumping on the rainbow bandwagon to show their support. Sure, they are seeking our money, but are they seeking our rights? These are uncertain times and we cannot afford to give our money AND our rights away. It’s time we look closely at the people and causes these companies support, and look at their policies for their business and employees. Just because they say they support us, doesn’t mean they put their money, OUR money, where their mouth is. So while they waive their rainbow flag in front of your face, what are they doing behind your back? Whether you are a member of the LGBTQ community or an ally, we need to be vigilant in ensuring that when we hand over our money, we aren’t also handing over our rights.
Burch Law was founded explicitly for the LGBTQ community and is focused on the area of Wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and estate planning. We have a wide range of qualified referrals for any legal needs with which we cannot assist.
Other resources we recommend:
The North Texas LGBT Chamber: https://www.lgbtchamber.com/
Lambda Legal: https://www.lambdalegal.org/states-regions/texas
The Human Rights Campaign: www.hrc.org