Parenthood – something to be thankful for

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Thanksgiving is the time of year that we celebrate our families.  Not one family is alike – they come in all sizes, shapes, and colors.  No matter what they look like, love is what ties them together.   These strong, secure, and loving families are the bedrock of our society.

Unfortunately, gay and lesbian families in Virginia have a lot less for which to be thankful.  Current law in the commonwealth denies lesbian and gay parents the basic rights of parenthood.  Although these couples are raising a family together, usually only one parent has the legal rights and responsibilities associated with parenthood.  This hurts not only the parents, but also leaves their children – who deserve two loving and legal parents – vulnerable.  It’s simple: gay and lesbian families are being discriminated against and it must stop.  There is a solution, and it’s called second-parent adoption.  As part of National Adoption Month, Equality Virginia is raising awareness about second-parent adoption. This type of adoption would allow both parents to be the legal guardian of their children and would allow for both parents to:

  • Make key decisions regarding the health, wellbeing, and education of their child
  • Provide benefits including health and life insurance to their child
  • Retain legal custody of their child if the other parent died
  • Be held financially responsible for the child in the event of a divorce or break-up

In other words, second-parent adoption allows parents the rights and responsibilities that most of us have taken for granted since becoming parents.  Second-parent adoption makes sense.  It makes sense for the wellbeing of our children and our communities and has already been approved in 21 states and the District of Columbia.  In Virginia, however, it is not yet legal for these loving parents to come full circle and become the legal guardians of the children they are raising.  Equality Virginia is working to change hearts and minds across the state. We need your help to do it.  

Are you a parent who has faced this type of discrimination as you raise your family? If so, please take our second-parent adoption survey.

Tell us your story: It is the most powerful tool to create change. Real couples with real stories will convince Virginia that all families deserve equal protection under the law.

This season, we are especially thankful for all the loving families living throughout the commonwealth.  Together, we will gain equality and work to ensure that all parents in Virginia have the legal ability to protect and care for their children.   Be the first to know about second-parent adoption and other issues facing the LGBT community – sign up for our newsletter and action alerts!

We are also thankful for your ongoing support and involvement in the process of making change happen.  Please consider making a $20 donation to allow us to continue this important work.

Announcement from Virginia Department of Taxation will hurt married gay and lesbian couples and businesses in Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – November 13, 2013

Contact: Kirsten Bokenkamp, [email protected];  804.643.4816

Richmond – The Virginia Department of Taxation on Friday issued a bulletin that will harm married gay and lesbian couples and will hurt businesses in Virginia. The bulletin informed Virginians that married gay and lesbian couples are required to file their Virginia income tax returns as single individuals.  For certain taxpayers, the required changes will impact not only their filing status but also the associated deductions, exemptions, and tax credits.  The bulletin provides that it is based on the advice of legal counsel, but fails to provide any support for its contention that Virginia’s marriage law required that the Commonwealth must “deconform” with the federal income tax code for the sole purpose of taxing same-sex couples.

Putting punitive pressure on businesses, the bulletin announced that since Virginia does not recognize the legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples, under the new policy, businesses that claim a federal deduction for payments of fringe benefits to employees’ same-sex spouses and dependents must adjust the deductions they claim for Virginia income tax purposes accordingly.

“This policy will hurt a lot of Virginia’s families and businesses and will bode poorly for the commonwealth as a whole,” said James Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia.  “Businesses will have even less incentive to stay in or move to Virginia, and many households will have less money to spend in their communities.”

Most states that have not yet obtained the freedom to marry have directed married gay and lesbian couples to recalculate their federal tax return as “single” or “head of household.”  Virginia’s new tax policy goes far beyond that by attempting to identify specific changes in income as reported for federal purposes, that must be changed when filing state taxes and attempting to tax businesses for providing group health benefits to the families of their employees.  Equality Virginia knows of no other state that has attempted to tax its businesses to discourage them from providing spousal benefits to the same-sex spouses of their employees.

“As the Virginia tax code specifically provided that Virginia income is based on a taxpayer’s federal adjusted gross income, it is questionable that the Virginia Department of Taxation has the authority to implement such a policy without the state legislature making changes to the tax code, and we will continue to work with our legal counsel to monitor the situation,” said Parrish.

The Department of Taxation will release additional guidelines prior to the 2014 filing season.


Equality Virginia is a statewide, non-partisan education, outreach, and advocacy organization seeking equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Virginians.  Since 1989, EV has worked to end discrimination, protect families and build safe communities.  More information is online at  Connect on or Twitter @EqualityVA.

New Gov. and Lt. Gov. Move Virginia toward LGBT Equality

VA General Assembly Still Major Roadblock to Progress


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – November 6, 2013

Contact: Kirsten Bokenkamp, [email protected];  804.643.4816

RICHMOND- The election of Terry McAuliffe and Ralph Northam to state-wide offices means that the commonwealth is making real progress toward equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals, according to Equality Virginia.

“This is a real turning point for Virginia,” said executive director James Parrish.  “The commonwealth has never before had somebody in the Governor’s seat who so openly supports equality for all Virginians.  Equality Virginia is excited to work with these leaders toward a state that is more welcoming for all families.”

The organization is hopeful that LGBT-friendly Mark Herring will maintain the lead in the race for attorney general.  “

While there was some good news from the House of Delegates  races, a number of anti-equality incumbents prevailed.  “Unfortunately, the newly elected House of Delegates will continue to be a major road block to achieving equality in Virginia, ” said Parrish.



Equality Virginia is a statewide, non-partisan education, outreach, and advocacy organization seeking equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Virginians.  Since 1989, EV has worked to end discrimination, protect families and build safe communities.  More information is online at  Connect on or Twitter @EqualityVA