Monthly Archives: March 2016

Moving to Red States

Posted on March 28, 2016 in Buying a Home

According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, more and more LGBT people are moving to states that are traditionally conservative (those that go red during elections, i.e., have mostly Republican leadership). These states often have very few or no anti-discrimination laws or hate crimes. In fact, some of them have legislators and other elected officials actively working to pass laws that would harm LGBT people. So why are more people moving to these states when most would expect it to be the opposite?

The Numbers

States That Are Largely Republican Are Growing in LGBT Population, and For Good ReasonsConsumer Affairs recently analyzed Gallup and the Census Bureau data gathered from between 1993 and 2014 that included LGBT residents and where they lived. The data looked at the top 20 cities that saw the most LGBT people move to them. Out of those 20, 11 were in cities in that are generally considered very conservative. These cities are in states such as Texas, Louisiana, Kentucky, and Virginia.

Salt Lake City, home of the Mormon Church, saw the largest increase in its LGBT community. In 1993, it ranked 39th on the list.  In 2014, it had moved up to 7th. Other cities that saw a large increase in their LGBT populations include Louisville, Indianapolis, and Norfolk. On the other hand, cities that are often considered major LGBT communities saw their populations actually drop.  New York, San Diego, and Minneapolis were among the more liberal cities that saw LGBT people leave.

Why?

There are a number of different reasons why LGBT people are making these moves. Some see the need to change the policies in these states, and they can’t do it unless they live there. Others see that the larger cities in these states are becoming more and more accepting of LGBT citizens. With 5 percent of the population of Salt Lake City now identifying as LGBT, there’s no denying their voice.

The biggest reason why LGBT people may be moving to red states; however, is obvious to gay and lesbian real estate agents: it’s the economy. Homes tend to be cheaper in the south and in states such as Utah.  San Francisco and New York are prohibitively expensive, while these smaller metro areas are cheaper yet still tend to have much of what larger cities offer. Younger people are especially drawn to these lower prices, especially those who have just graduated college and have little in the way of savings. As LGBT acceptance continues to grow, it may be cities in these red states that become the new gay meccas.

Living LGBT In The Lovely State of Oregon

Posted on March 21, 2016 in Buying a Home

Thinking about moving to Oregon?  The state has a number of LGBT citizens and gay and lesbian real estate agents, and there’s a reason for that.  Oregon was one of the first to legalize consenting same-sex activities (in 1972), and the state is overall fairly welcoming and open.  It offers many different rights to LGBT people and is one of the states to offer a wide range of protections in employment and other areas.  If you’re thinking about moving to Oregon, here’s where the state stands on many of today’s hot-button issues.

Same-Sex Marriage

Living LGBT In The Lovely State of OregonOregon legalized same-sex marriage a little over a year before the Supreme Court’s ruling in 2015.  This legalization came as a result of a court case that found that the 2004 constitutional amendment restricting marriage to a man and a woman violated the Equal Protection Clause.

The state had initiated domestic partnerships in 2008 following the passage of the Oregon Family Fairness Act.  Oregon also recognized same-sex marriages performed in other states starting in October of 2013.  More recently, on January 1, 2016, a bill went into effect that changed all language in the Oregon statutes discussing marriage to be gender-neutral.

Adoption and Gender Identity

Same-sex couples have the right to jointly adopt children, plus they can also do step-parent adoptions.  IVF treatments are available, as is surrogacy.  Many gay and lesbian couples in the state take advantage of these options.

In 2013, a lawsuit brought by a public employee led to the state deciding that all public employee medical insurance plans would cover gender reassignment surgery, medications, and other necessities.  As of 2014, birth certificate gender markers can be amended without gender reassignment surgery.

Protection

Oregon does offer a number of different legal protections to those in the LGBT community.  It has been illegal to discriminate on both gender identity and sexual orientation in the areas of housing, public accommodations, and employment since January of 2008.  The state also includes sexual orientation and gender identity in its hate crime statutes.

Oregon banned sexual orientation conversation therapy for minors in July of 2015 after both the State House and Senate approved a bill doing so.  This made the state only the third to do so following New Jersey and California.

LGBT Citizens of Note

Oregon is the home to the first openly bisexual governor, Kate Brown.  The Speaker of the House is a married lesbian, while the judge who struck down the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage is openly gay.

Living in Charlotte Just got a Bit Easier

Posted on March 14, 2016 in Buying a Home

If you live in Charlotte, North Carolina, or if you’re planning a move to that part of the country and have been looking for a home, there’s good news: the city council of Charlotte recently approved an expansion to the city ordinance that extends protection to the LGBT community.  This vote came after more than three hours of discussion and testimony from 140 people.  It prevents all businesses from discriminating against customers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

A Short-Lived Ordinance?

Living in Charlotte Just got a Bit EasierUnfortunately, while the ordinance passed with a 7 to 4 vote and will go into effect on April 1st, the state’s General Assembly can nullify any or all of the ordinance or decide that citizens of Charlotte should put the issue to a referendum vote.  The Speaker of the House has, in fact, already promised that the ordinance will be struck down or sent to the voters.  The main issue is the bathroom provision, which would give transgender citizens the option of using the bathroom of the gender they identify as.  Those opposing the measure stated their fears that women would be attacked in public restrooms, and some even voiced concerns that transgender people would also be attacked.

A More Open City Council

If you had asked a gay or lesbian real estate agent about the Charlotte city council’s overall leaning several years ago, they would probably have told you that the council was overall conservative.  In fact, this same ordinance failed by 6 to 5 last year.  However, that was before the election of two new members, and now the city council is more liberal.  With the passage, Charlotte becomes the first city in North Carolina to pass such a detailed ordinance protecting LGBT citizens.  In fact, it’s one of only a handful of cities with LGBT protections in the area—only three in South Carolina have such ordinances.  Several other cities in North Carolina do have some protections for LGBT citizens, but none includes the bathroom clause.

LGBT Rights in North Carolina as a Whole

Same-sex marriage became legal in North Carolina in October of 2014.  Prior to that, Charlotte had been one of several cities to have established its own domestic partnership registry.  The state had also amended their Patients’ Bill of Rights in 2008 to make it easier for same-sex couples to visit each other in the hospital.

What Does Illinois Offer the LGBT Community?

Posted on March 6, 2016 in Buying a Home

Illinois has often been considered one of the best Midwestern states for LGBT people to live in because it’s very liberal and welcoming.  The state removed all laws banning consensual same-sex activity in 1962, making it the first state to repeal such laws.  Illinois has also been ahead of the curve in civil unions and same-sex marriage.  Let’s take a look at what the state offers its LGBT citizens and why it may make a great place to live if you’re looking to move to the Midwest.

Same-Sex Marriage

Illinois Has a Lot to Offer Members of the LGBT CommunityIn 1996, a law was introduced that banned recognition of any same-sex marriage, and while it was opposed by a large number of citizens, it did pass and became law in May of that year.  This law also reinforced the amendment added to the state’s Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.  Legislators had quickly moved to amend that act after seeing a case in Hawaii that seemed likely to make same-sex legal there.  While marriage was banned, civil unions did become legal on June 1, 2011.  This also gave some recognition to same-sex marriages performed in other states, although they were seen as civil unions.

Despite trying to pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage several times, it was legalized in November of 2013 by a state statute.  This statute passed the House by one vote and the Senate by two, but following the governor’s signature, same-sex marriage became legal on June 1, 2014.

State Employee Benefits and Protections

Starting in 2006, the partners of all state employees have enjoyed benefits.  That same year, “sexual orientation” was added to the state’s nondiscrimination laws, protecting all LGBT citizens from being discriminated against in the areas of housing, employment, credit, and public accommodations.  While it’s not always the case, Illinois specifically defined “sexual orientation” as including gender identity, protecting all LGBT people.  This definition has also been used in the state’s hate crime laws.

In 2014, the state’s anti-bullying laws were expanded to include LGBT people, offering protection to students who were being harassed because of their orientation or gender identity.

The Illinois Domestic Violence Act is actually written using gender-neutral terms, which means it has always been applicable to same-sex couples without the need for any amending or rewriting.

Adoption

Illinois has always allowed LGBT individuals or couples to adopt, and the state does allow second-parent adoptions.

Gender Identity

There are two things to note about gender identity in the state.  First, in order to legally change gender on a birth certificate, the person must have gone through some gender reassignment surgery, although the law has been interpreted in several different ways.  Second, a law did go into effect in August of 2015 that allows people to specify their preferred gender pronoun to be used in all burial and funeral instructions.