Monthly Archives: May 2016

Is North Dakota LGBT Friendly?

Posted on May 23, 2016 in Uncategorized

North Dakota is definitely not known for its large number of residents. In fact, the state ranks 47th in terms of population, even though it’s 19th in terms of size. Despite that, this state features a number of natural resources, low unemployment, and has shown a good amount of growth, both economically and in terms of population, in recent years. Those in the LGBT community may not immediately think of North Dakota as a place to live, but there are some reasons why they might consider a move here.

History of LGBT Laws in North Dakota

North Dakota Is Increasing LGBT FriendlyIn 1862, the first laws banning sodomy were passed in Dakota Territory. However, while these laws were actually expanded several times, they were completely repealed in 1973 during a major overhaul of the state’s criminal codes.

When it comes to same-sex marriage, however, North Dakota was not as progressive. The state constitution was amended in 2004 to limit marriage to one man and one woman. It also prohibited domestic partnerships and civil unions between members of the same sex. It wasn’t until the 2015 ruling of Obergefell v. Hodges that same-sex couples could marry in the state. However, the state constitution and statutes still contain the laws restricting marriage. A legislative committee is working on a plan to remove the language, but it’s not expected to finish its report until early 2017. The laws, however, are unenforceable.

Several lawsuits had been filed in 2014 seeking same-sex marriage, but all of these cases were stayed once the U.S. Supreme Court took up Obergefell v. Hodges. Following that case, a number of marriage licenses were issued in the state.

Parenting

Adoption laws have never expressly prevented LGBT individuals from adopting children, but there was a period of time when sexual orientation was taken into consideration in child custody cases. This decision was made during the 1980s by the North Dakota Supreme Court, although it was later reversed in 2003. However, private adoption agencies have the right to discriminate against LGBT couples or individuals if they can show that their religious beliefs instruct them to do so.

Protections

North Dakota has no state laws addressing discrimination based on either orientation or gender identity. However, several cities do. Fargo does list sexual orientation in its non-discrimination policy, but this policy only affects those employed by the city. Grand Forks has a non-discrimination policy that protects citizens on both orientation and identity in the areas of employment and rental housing.

Moving Decisions – Selecting a School

Posted on May 16, 2016 in Buying a Home

If you have children, one of the factors that may play a huge part in your home buying process is the school zone you’ll be moving in to. Some parents spend hours researching the different school options, how well those schools do, and what, if any, is known about the attitudes of the teachers and administrators towards children of LGBT parents. Some may even visit schools to talk with the principals and others about their children’s inclusion and safety. Here are some tips and ideas that may help you find the perfect new school for your family.

Ask for Resources

Finding the Right School When You Move Is A Very Important Aspect of Any Moving DecisionIf you’re not certain how to research schools in the city or state you’re moving to, you can ask your gay or lesbian real estate agent. They may be able to point you to specific websites or even local LGBT community centers that can answer your questions in more detail. They might also be able to tell you if they know of other LGBT families in the neighborhoods you’re considering. You can also try visiting LGBT-owned businesses and asking if the owners have any suggestions.

Visit the Schools

Many schools are open to visits from the parents of potential students. You can speak with an administrator about your concerns and, depending on the day and time, possibly even meet with your child’s potential teacher.

Ask about Transferring Districts

Have you found the perfect home for your family, but believe the best school is across town? You can ask about transferring districts. In many cases, as long as you’re willing to take your child to school and pick them up, they can attend a school outside of your district. You may be able to move into your dream house and get the school district you want!

Talk to Your Kids

No matter what school you end up sending your kids to, be sure to talk to them about the move. This is especially true if it’s their first time moving. Talk to them about making new friends and about the right way to handle anything said about their parents. Some may never have heard discriminatory remarks from their classmates, so discuss why such things might be said and what to do about it. Doing so will help them overcome their fears of a new school and hopefully help them make friends.

Volunteering at their school is another great way of integrating both your kids and yourself into the school environment. This gives you a chance to get to know the teachers and administrators better, plus you’ll meet other parents and give them a chance to know you and your family better. Sometimes people simply need to meet someone who is in the LGBT community to realize that any fears they have are really unfounded.

Moving to Delaware? Know What Perks You Will Have

Posted on May 9, 2016 in Buying a Home

Thinking about making the move to Delaware? One of the smallest states in the country, Delaware was also the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution and is the home of a large number of historic sites. Less than 100 miles in length, the state has access to beaches, riverfront property (on the Delaware River), and some of the most gorgeous scenery in the New England area. But more than that, Delaware also has a growing LGBT population, and the state has been fairly quick on working for equal rights.

LGBT Laws

There Are a Lot of Reasons to Consider Moving to DelawareDelaware repealed all of its sodomy laws in 1972, making it one of the first states to do so. The state then approved a bill to create civil unions for same-sex couples, which went into effect at the beginning of 2012. During that year, over 500 civil unions were created, far more than many people expected. In March, then-Governor Jack Markell believed that the state would quickly legalize same-sex marriage, and in April of 2013, the House passed such a bill. It was approved by the senate in May, and went into full effect July 1st. Civil unions were converted into marriages at that point.

This came to no surprise to those who were tracking the opinions of Delaware citizens. In February of 2011, almost half of the voters supported same-sex marriage, while over 60 percent supported civil unions. In February 2013, 54 percent voiced their support for same-sex marriage.

As far as adoptions go, anyone may petition to adopt a child. In 2001, the state saw its first LGBT couple complete a second-parent adoption. With the creation of civil unions and then the legalization of same-sex marriage, LGBT couples have all of the adoption rights that opposite-sex couples have.

Protections

Delaware has included sexual orientation in its hate crime legislation since 2001, and those protections were extended to include gender identity in 2013. The state passed laws in 2009 protecting LGBT citizens from being discriminated against based on sexual orientation in housing, employment, and other areas and expanded that definition to include gender identity in 2013.

Why Delaware?

That’s what many people ask. Besides the protections and rights offered to its LGBT citizens, this small state has a lot to offer. Many retirees look to Rehoboth Beach, a small and quiet community. Others enjoy the fact that Delaware is close to New York City and many other major metro areas, yet also provides plenty of opportunities to get away from civilization for a little while.

Living the LGBT Life in New Hampshire

Posted on May 2, 2016 in Buying a Home

Are you thinking about moving to New Hampshire?  If you’ve contacted a gay or lesbian real estate agent in the area, you might have talked to them about buying property in New Hampshire.  The state may be one of the smallest in the union, but it’s also one of the most progressive as far in same-sex rights go.  While some states took years to remove their laws against same-sex sexual activity, New Hampshire got rid of those laws back in 1975.

Living the LGBT Life in New HampshireCivil unions also became an option for couples at the beginning of 2008 and provided many of the same rights and protections as marriages, as far as the state was concerned, although at the time they did not provide any of the marriage benefits recognized by the federal government. New Hampshire actually became the first state to recognize same-sex civil unions through a bill voted on through the state legislature and signed by the governor rather than from a court order or pressure from the courts.

The state later made same-sex legal on January 1, 2010.  However, New Hampshire does have one interesting, unique rule regarding same-sex marriage.  While state law sets the minimum age to enter into an opposite-sex marriage at 14 for males and 13 for females, it outlines that anyone entering into a same-sex marriage must be at least 18 years old regardless of gender.

As far as adoption right goes, anyone can adopt children following the repealing of a law that banned LGBT adoption back in 1999.  All laws regarding adoption apply equally to both opposite-sex and same-sex couples.

Protections

The state has protected people on the basis of sexual orientation in public and private employment, housing, and accommodations since 1998.  However, the state has no laws that protect individuals based on their gender identity.  A bill that would have added that protection failed to pass the state senate in 2009.  Since 1991, state law has also included sexual orientation in its hate crime laws.

As of April of 2016, a bill that will ban conversion therapy for minors who identify as LGBT is awaiting a vote by the state Senate.

LGBT Neighborhoods

There are a number of gay ghettos and neighborhoods in New Hampshire.  One of the most famous is in Manchester, sometimes called the Queen City.  Northeast Manchester is a popular gay and lesbian neighborhood that is quite safe and has a number of LGBT-owned stores and cafes.