LGBT families face unequal treatment under many policies, according to new book published by University of Michigan Press

February 13, 2007

Roberta Sklar, Director of Communications


“A concise, comprehensive guide to gay-family issues that combines an impassioned progressive sensibility with a firm respect for facts.”
— Jonathan Rauch, writer for National Journal and Atlantic Monthly

WASHINGTON, Feb. 13 — Families headed by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) adults experience a wide range of unequal treatment under public policy, according to a book released today by the University of Michigan Press.

Policy Issues Affecting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Families, co-authored by Sean Cahill, Ph.D., and Sarah Tobias, Ph.D., provides a comprehensive account of the discrimination LGBT families confront and a look at how policy changes could make them more secure.

The authors document unequal treatment in areas including:

  • discrimination against lesbian couples by fertility clinics that refuse to serve them,
  • lack of coverage under federal and state family and medical leave acts,
  • same-sex survivors of domestic violence who are forced to seek protection in criminal court, as they are not allowed to go to family court, and 
  • a gay male couple, one partner a U.S. citizen and the other Chinese, who had to move to Canada to be able to stay together because the Immigration and Naturalization Service does not recognize their relationship.

Cahill, director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute, and Tobias released the book at a Feb. 13 launch event at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in New York City. The title is available for purchase at ( The book is the third published by Policy Institute staff.

In the ongoing national debate regarding equality for LGBT people, no issue is more central than family recognition. Mary Cheney’s pregnancy has exposed fault lines within the Republican coalition, evoking opposition from Focus on the Family and other right-wing Christian groups that helped elect the Bush-Cheney administration. Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney and others denounce marriage equality for same-sex couples because “every child deserves a mother and a father.” 

Yet, just as there is scientific consensus that global warming is a reality, there is consensus among social scientists and child welfare advocates that children of LGBT parents are not disadvantaged by their parents’ sexual orientation or gender. Just as it is wrong to present global warming and the view that denies a human role in global warming as equally valid views, it is factually incorrect to present claims made by Romney and others as equal to the views of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“Thousands of gay couples and individuals are heading families, and many of us are raising children,” said Tobias. “We are tired of being used as a political football. We urge the media to cover the issue of gay parenting in an accurate and responsible way.”

Other critical family issues often go unheeded or are overshadowed in this debate. Policy Issues addresses partner recognition, parenting, issues affecting children of LGBT parents, health care, discrimination, elder policy issues and equal access to social services. It also addresses debates within the LGBT community about the focus on marriage equality.

“The anti-gay movement portrays legal protections for LGBT people as a threat to the civil rights of people of color,” said Cahill. “However, U.S. Census data indicate that black and Latino same-sex couples are, on average, more likely to be raising children and earn less money than white gay people. Therefore they have more to gain from equitable family policies, and are disproportionately hurt when, for example, Michigan voters take away employer-provided domestic partner health insurance. The cruel irony is that the anti-gay movement disproportionately threatens LGBT people of color.”

“For an account of policy issues that frame lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender family lives here in the United States, one need look no further," said University of Virginia psychologist Charlotte J. Patterson. “Sean Cahill and Sarah Tobias supply accurate and up-to-date information about the legal and policy contexts of LGBT lives across the country. This book is sure to be a valuable resource for students and scholars, as well as for others seeking to understand and challenge discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.”

For more information on these and other issues related to the LGBT community, visit the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force at

Click here to download a high-resolution photo of Sean Cahill.


The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.