Written by Guest Contributor Jori Hamilton
The overturning of Roe v. Wade has caused an uproar in our nation. However, a common misconception is that this ruling impacts only women. While women are obviously greatly affected by the decision, the ruling impacts many other groups, as well, which is exactly why it should be getting more attention.
It should also make everyone more aware that other Supreme Court decisions could be on the way.
Shortly after the overturning, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas suggested that the Court needs to look at other settled legal precedents to determine if they’re constitutional. Many are fearing that would include same-sex marriage rights and contraceptive rights.
Those decisions could seriously harm the well-being of the LGBTQIA+ community. So, what can you do now to protect yourself and your family? How can you prepare yourself if other rulings come forward?
Let’s take a look at both the legal and personal sides of these considerations, so you can continue to remain healthy and happy as a queer individual in this post-Roe world.
Legal Protections for Yourself and Your Family
You probably never expected to need legal advice to put protections in place for yourself and your loved ones. However, now is a good time to consider talking to an attorney and getting representation. You should be covering things like
- Power of attorney
- Securing parent-child relationships
- Common-law partnerships
Why are these issues important? If same-sex marriage rights eventually get overturned by the Supreme Court, you could potentially face issues with any children you have with your partner or children you’ve adopted. Selecting a Power of Attorney gives you the option to let someone you trust make medical and financial decisions for you, which can be your current partner. It gives them special rights, even if your marriage is no longer “valid” on paper.
Finally, resources like Equality Virginia can help you determine your next steps. There are no common-law marriages in Virginia, and the state’s “Affirmation of Marriage Act” prohibits civil unions between people of the same sex. Because of these issues, if you’re not able to get the legal help you need and you can’t fight back against laws already in place, you might want to consider switching states.
We’ll talk more about that later.
Making your partner your Power of Attorney is a great way to ensure they can help you with medical decisions, whether the state recognizes your marriage or not. However, that’s only half the battle.
The overturning of Roe v. Wade has left many people in the LGBTQIA+ community wondering how to approach the future of their medical care. It can be especially difficult if you’ve been thinking about starting a family. Whether you’re married or not, family planning with your partner shouldn’t be something the government has control over.
Unfortunately, not only could access to birth control become limited, but you may start to worry about being treated differently when receiving medical care or talking to a doctor about your needs and wants for a family.
It’s essential to work with a medical provider you can trust, and one who has experience working with people in the LGBTQIA+ community. Cultural competency is often just as important as medical skills. Look for doctors and nurses who:
- Have strong communication skills
- Practice active listening
- Show compassion
- Show empathy
If you want to find a healthcare provider who is an LGBTQIA+ ally, consider asking friends or other members of the community where they go, and where they’ve felt the most supported. You can also use online resources like the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA) to find the right medical professionals near you, and feel supported in your search.
In addition, seek out local advocacy groups that aim to provide empathetic and affordable healthcare to LGBTQ+ people in your community. Centerlink is one such mutual aid network that is spearheading a program that supports anti-discrimination laws in American healthcare. You can support them via this petition.
Finding Support Wherever You Are
Perhaps the worst thing about this post-Roe world for the LGBTQIA+ community is that it feels a bit like a waiting game. There is really no telling if or when other laws will be overturned, or to what degree they might impact you as an individual.
That can lead to a lot of stress and uncertainty, but there are things you can do to prepare yourself and fight back against these potential changes.
First, consider joining local advocacy groups. Finding your communities and those who support you will help you with feelings of loneliness or weakness. There is strength in numbers, and even something as simple as joining a support group can help you work through your feelings and find some peace during these times of uncertainty.
You should also consider getting involved in the local and federal political climate. There has been a 16% increase in LGBTQIA+ congressional candidates since 2020. While this is a step in the right direction when it comes to promoting equality, it obviously still isn’t enough. Start at the local level by supporting the right candidates. Campaign for them, and do what you can to help them get into office so they can make real, effective changes.
Finally, though it might seem like a last resort, moving across state lines is an option. If you’re close to a border, you might be able to keep your kids in the same school district or commute to work. It’s not ideal, and not even an option for everyone. However, if it’s the one thing that can protect your rights and make life easier for you and your family, it’s worth considering.
If you do decide that moving is for you, keep the following tips in mind to make the process easier.
- Pack early
- Shred documents you don’t need
- Donate or sell any unwanted items to reduce clutter
- Hire experienced movers
- Find self-storage if needed
It’s okay to feel a little nervous, or even scared right now, based on the decision of the Supreme Court. Certain Virginia laws don’t exactly provide a lot of comfort or security as to what might happen if other rulings get overturned. However, as you can see, there are things you can do now to protect yourself and those you love, and actions you can take to work toward a better, brighter, and more equal future – not just for yourself and your family, but for the next generation of LGBTQIA+ individuals who deserve the same equality and protections.
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