Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Day DOMA Died

It’s not every day you get to stand at the foot of the marble stairs (quarried from Vermont!) of the U.S. Supreme Court on the day a blockbuster decision related to LGBT rights is handed down. But there I was in the sweltering heat at about 8:00 a.m. yesterday, waiting on two decisions. Though rulings in the Windsor DOMA case and the Perry Prop. 8 case were at least two hours from being handed down, the media was already out in full force, with dozing cameramen seated in folding beach chairs, all shaded by umbrellas. The line of folks hoping to get inside for a front row seat to history was already growing.

GLAD Civil Rights Project Director
Mary L. Bonauto arriving at the Court 
It wasn’t long before I caught up with my colleague Mary Bonauto, who laid so much of the foundation on which the Windsor victory was built, as Justin Peters described so well in this piece on Slate yesterday.  As the sun rose higher over the courthouse, we continually moved around in a mostly useless attempt to keep cool.
But soon there was nowhere left to move, as the sidewalk by the court was quickly clogged with LGBT people and allies from around the country, singing and chanting and keeping their hopes high. I was surprised there wasn’t a more visible presence of people who oppose LGBT rights. Maybe they were all in a bunker somewhere, bracing themselves for the end of the world. I did glimpse Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage strolling along the edge of the crowd, where no one seemed to notice him. He was still smiling at that point, but I’m guessing his day went a little south after the big news got out.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Most Important Thing

Kelly, Nicole, Jonas and Wayne Maines, with GLAD attorneys Jennifer Levi and
Ben Klein, outside the Maine Law Court after oral argument June 12, 2013
“I hope [the justices] understand how important it is for students to be able to go to school and get an education, have fun, make friends and not have to worry about being bullied by students or the administration and to be accepted for who they are. That’s the most important thing.” - Nicole Maines
Not long into yesterday’s Maine Supreme Court arguments in our case Doe v. Clenchy, our client Nicole Maines leaned in a little closer to her mother, bringing her head to rest on Kelly Maines’ shoulder. 

It’s good to have a supportive and loving parent around when things get tough, and listening to a cadre of lawyers and judges debating the difficult, discriminatory experiences of your life and your rights as a transgender girl can make for a tough day for a 15-year-old. Her dad Wayne and her twin brother Jonas were also by her side at the arguments.

The family has stuck together and supported each other through the stress of more than four years of legal proceedings and media attention related to the discrimination Nicole experienced as a 5th grader at her Orono middle school, where administrators rescinded her access to the girls’ restroom after a male classmate followed her into the facility to make trouble. Nicole was forced to use a staff bathroom and separated from the other girls, in violation of Maine’s trans-inclusive non-discrimination law. The reversal forced Wayne and Kelly to withdraw their children from the Orono school system and move to another part of the state so they could attend school quietly and safely.

Monday, June 3, 2013

How to Be a Great LGBT Family

Jonas, Wayne, Nicole and Kelly Maines in D.C. last year. Wayne, Jonas and Nicole were guests at President Obama's annual LGBT Pride reception.
 Editor’s Note: June 3 is the 8th Annual Blogging for LGBT Families Day, a tradition aimed at showing support for our families in the blogosphere brought to you by, one of our favorite LGBT parenting blogs. We hope you enjoy this post about a loving and courageous family with which GLAD has had the privilege to work.

If you think your family is being discriminated against based on a member’s gender identity or sexual orientation, contact GLAD’s Legal InfoLine for help.

When we think of LGBT families, we primarily think of those headed by LGBT parents.  But really, any family that includes an LGBT person is an LGBT family since so often, that person’s experience as a member of our community impacts their entire family. When these families stand up and share their stories, they help educate the world about our community and serve as powerful examples about the importance of loving and supporting LGBT family members – particularly our youth.

I can’t think of a better example than the family behind our case Doe v. Clenchy, which will be heard before Maine’s highest court this month. GLAD is representing a transgender teen girl, identified in court records as “Susan Doe,” whose elementary and middle schools removed her from the girls’ restroom because she is transgender and forced her to use a staff-only restroom in isolation from her peers. Eventually, her parents were forced to withdraw their daughter and her twin brother from the Orono school system and move to another part of the state so they could attend school quietly and safely.