Monthly Archives: February 2016

Buying a Home in Florida? Make Sure You Pick the Right Area!

Posted on February 26, 2016 in Buying a Home

Florida—warm beaches, Disney World, and spring break!  The state is associated with fun in the minds of many people, and we hear about a number of cities in Florida being great places for LGBT people to live.  But how does the state treat the LGBT community overall?

Consenting Same-Sex Sexual Activity

While Florida Has a Few Issues When it Comes to LGBT Legislation, They Are Working to Make it a More Welcoming Home to the LGBT CommunityThe state did not get off to a good start, banning many different sexual acts between consenting adults before it was even officially a state!  In 1868, sodomy laws went on the books, and even though consenting activities were later reduced to a misdemeanor instead of a felony, they were still illegal.  In fact, the court system decided to interpret those laws as banning all same-sex sexual activities for a time until the Florida Supreme Court decided the statute contained vague language.  It wasn’t until 2003 and the Lawrence v. Texas case that sodomy laws were completely stricken from the books.

Florida is noteworthy as being one of only three states that has a law banning cohabitation.  This law, which also went into effect in 1868, bans unmarried men and women from living together, no matter what their sexual orientation or relationship is.  Legislation has been introduced to repeal this law. Until that passes, make sure you research where you are considering living because some areas of the state still enforce this law.

Same-Sex Marriage

In 1977, the state passed legislation that banned the recognition of all same-sex marriages, and it was confirmed in November of 2008 by a vote of the people.  The state’s constitution then banned all same-sex civil unions and marriages.  The ban was challenged in August of 2014, and same-sex marriage became legal in January of 2015.  A number of counties and cities in the state also have domestic partnership registries and offer benefits to same-sex partners. These are the best areas to live if you plan on marrying and raising a family!

Adoption

Much like marriage, LGBT couples have fought a long and hard battle to win the right to adopt.  Same-sex couples were prohibited from adopting children in 1977, and even after it was challenged several times and taken to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, the laws still stood.  However, in 2010, the laws were once again challenged, and this time they were declared unconstitutional.  State officials decided not to appeal the decision, allowing same-sex couples to begin adopting children for the first time in 33 years.  Legislation passed in 2015 officially repealed the 1977 laws as part of a larger adoption reform plan.

Discrimination

Florida has had different anti-discrimination policies since 2000, when the state passed laws saying that sexual orientation could not serve as the basis for discrimination in hospital visitation.  However, state law does not touch on orientation or gender identity in any other way.  Sexual orientation is included in hate crime laws, however.  A number of different counties and cities have passed their own anti-discrimination ordinances. These counties, including Broward, Leon, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, and Volusia to name a few, are the best places to live if discrimination is a primary concern for you.

Florida has obviously come a long way since those early anti-LGBT bills, but it still has a long way to go in many areas.

Move Over, Castro – Two New Hot LGBT Neighborhoods in San Francisco

Posted on February 19, 2016 in Buying a Home

Everyone knows the Castro District of San Francisco is one of the top LGBT neighborhoods in the world, but few people know that it’s not the only gay neighborhood in the city.  If you’re looking to move to the city and simply can’t afford a house in the Castro (and they are pricy!), you can ask a gay or lesbian real estate agent about one of these two hot areas that are becoming just as popular.

The Inner Sunset

There Are Two New Neighborhoods For Those Looking to Live Around the LGBT Friendly Area of San FranciscoThis area is directly next to the Castro, but it’s much more laid back and relaxing.  There aren’t anywhere near as many clubs or bars here, so you won’t find a huge nightlife scene.  That’s great for those who don’t go out much or who are raising a family.  While you’d think older people would mostly live in the Inner Sunset area, it actually began attracting younger couples who are ready to start having children or are serious about beginning their careers.

While it may not have much in the way of clubs, Inner Sunset does have a lot of cute boutique shops and cafes, including shops that feature handmade goods and many great places for foodies to eat.  Over in the Outer Sunset area, you’ll find the San Francisco Zoo, a great beach, and more.

Richmond

Then there’s the Richmond District, which sits on the other side of the Golden Gate Park from the Castro.  This area features museums, including the California Academy of Sciences.  While you’d think that would make it a fairly reserved area, the Academy actually hosts a mixer once a week that brings in a good number of people looking to party.  While it’s not a club, they do serve drinks and have live entertainment.  The Academy is also the host of a major pride parade every year.

But it’s not all parties in the Richmond area.  There are a number of bookstores and art galleries here, plus you can head over to the Outer Richmond area for food, surfing, and an amazing view of the ocean.  There are a couple of very nice restaurants here, plus some more casual dining experiences for those who aren’t looking to spend a lot of money on food.

While both Inner Sunset and Richmond are still going to be expensive from the point of view of those moving from other areas, housing in these two neighborhoods is much more affordable than the Castro.  If you’re new to the city, check them out.

Kansas Has Some Very LGBT Friendly Areas of the State

Posted on February 11, 2016 in Buying a Home

Are you working with a gay or lesbian real estate agent to facilitate a move to Kansas?  If so, you may be wondering what sort of things to expect from the state. You have probably heard of some horror stories regarding discrimination and attacks on LGBT people. In 2015, for example, the governor removed an anti-discrimination executive order that provided protection for state LGBT employees. But while that’s true, not all cities in Kansas are unwelcoming.

The History of LGBT Legislation in the State

If You Are Moving to Kansas, There Are Many Areas of the State That Are Very Welcoming to Members of the LGBT CommunityLike most states, Kansas did have laws making consensual same-sex sexual activity illegal in the state for years. It wasn’t until the 2003 case of Lawrence v. Texas that those laws were invalidated. Following that case, a Kansas case took it a step further and changed the state’s laws regarding statutory rape. Before State v. Limon, same-sex statutory rape carried a harsher penalty.

Regarding marriage, Kansas was one of the earliest states to ban same-sex marriage.  A bill was passed in April of 1996 making same-sex marriage illegal and refusing to recognize any same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.  In 2005, an amendment to the state’s constitution saying the same thing was passed.

A number of lawsuits followed, and at one point, one same-sex couple did manage to get a marriage license and successfully marry in 2014, but the state’s Supreme Court quickly forbid any more marriage licenses from being issued to same-sex couples.  However, it wasn’t until Obergefell v. Hodges that Kansas began issuing licenses statewide.

Prior to same-sex marriage becoming legal, the cities of Topeka and Lawrence maintained domestic partner registries.

Adoption

LGBT citizens in Kansas have had a number of battles over adopting children.  In 2012, the Kansas Court of Appeals determined that single people could not adopt a child without first terminating the parental rights of the biological parents.  Prior to same-sex marriage becoming legal, this basically prevented LGBT couples from petitioning for second-parent adoptions.

Anti-Discrimination and Hate Crime Laws

Kansas did have anti-discrimination laws protecting both sexual orientation and gender identity from 2007 to 2015, but in February of 2015, Governor Sam Brownback rescinded the executive order that put those protections in place.  Topeka, Roeland Park, and Lawrence currently have their own protections in place for both identity and orientation, while Shawnee county has anti-discrimination ordinances for public employees that protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation only.

Kansas does have hate crime laws that protect people on the basis of sexual orientation, but they do not include gender identity.

Living the LGBT Life in Maine

Posted on February 5, 2016 in Buying a Home

Maine is located in the most northern corner of the United States.  With its capital in Augusta and several large cities, including Portland, the state is home to more than a million people, despite the fact that it is also one of the smaller states.  But before you decide whether or not Maine is going to be your new home, you probably want to know more about how the state treats its LGBT citizens.

Organizations

Maine Has Made Some Pretty Significant Strides When It Comes to LGBT Rights, And Is A Great Place to LiveIf you’re thinking of moving to the state and have talked to a gay or lesbian real estate agent, you’ve probably heard that Maine is a fairly open state that was one of the earlier states to recognize LGBT rights.  There are a number of LGBT people who live in Maine, of course, and the state has many different organizations and celebrations you can join in.  The Maine Gay Men’s Chorus, Pride Portland, SAGE Maine, and the programs at the University of Maine are just a few of the groups that host LGBT-related activities.

Laws Regarding LGBT

In 1976, the statute making consenting same-sex sexual acts illegal was repealed, making Maine one of the earlier states to do this.  While the state was also one of the earliest to pass a law banning same-sex marriage (in 1997), they did create domestic partnerships in 2004 and the partners of same-sex state employees received benefits starting in 2001.  Several years later, in 2009, a law was actually passed in May that would have allowed same-sex marriage.  However, before it could officially be put into place, opponents managed to put the issue to a vote of the people.  A referendum was passed in November that repealed the new law.

In 2012, however, popular opinion seemed to swing in the opposite direction, and a petition to put same-sex marriage to a vote was again put forth.  It easily qualified for the ballot, and in November, it passed with 53 percent.  On December 29, 2012, Maine officially began issuing same-sex marriage licenses.

Adoption and Gender Reassignment

Both single and same-sex couples can adopt in the state with little to no opposition.  Those who undergo sex-reassignment surgery may also legally amend the gender listed on their birth certificates.

Legal Protections

Maine does have laws in place protecting LGBT people from discrimination in housing, employment, education, public accommodations, and credit.  Sexual orientation is addressed in the state’s hate crime laws, although gender identity is not.

Overall, Maine is a welcoming place to live.  While the state does have some room to grow in the area of gender identity and protection, it’s done more than a number of other states have.