How Organizations Can Help Ensure LGBTQ+ Rights
The very first Pride parade was a protest march for LGBTQ+ rights, held on the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall uprising that took place in June 1969. Since then, a lot has changed for the queer community around the world. For example:
- Homosexuality is no longer classified as a mental disorder in the DSM;
- Same-sex marriage is legal in 30 countries; and
- Openly queer politicians have held office in 62 countries.
However, despite the cultural and legal advances the LGBTQ+ community has made over the past 50 years, we still live with the threat of our rights being taken away by new legislation or re-interpretation of past precedent. In the U.S., recent moves made by the Supreme Court have shown that we cannot rely on future rulings to continue that progress. In fact, we should be preparing for the opposite. In a world where the institutions that are supposed to protect ALL constituents are regressing, how can employers help protect their LGBTQ+ employees rights?
Evaluate and Expand Current Benefit Offerings
This is the time to add and expand benefits that foster inclusion and equity for LGBTQ+ people. Offering a more expansive benefit package than the standard medical-dental-PTO is one way to signal to current and potential employees that you support their individual needs and desires. For example:
- Don’t require a marriage license or domestic partnership certificate to add a same-sex partner to health insurance or other benefits. If that’s not possible, provide an affidavit form to complete in lieu of county or city domestic partnership paperwork.
- Offer free legal consultation and notary services to help employees protect their legal standing to make health care, financial, and real estate decisions for their family. If gay marriage is no longer recognized at the federal level, LGBTQ+ couples will need to use numerous different legal documents to ensure they can continue to make legal, financial, and medical decisions for each other. Legal documents that will need to be considered include:
- Living Will
- Revocable Trust
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Advance Health Care Directive, Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, or Health Care Proxy
- Hospital Visitation Directive
- Funeral Directive
- Right of Survivorship Deed (or other deed-related document)
- Add fertility and family planning benefits for all employees and communicate directly with LGBTQ+ employees about their options. We know LGBTQ+ people already face many barriers to family forming care and adoption, and a court that embraces conservative views around reproduction or the rights to foster and adopt can create even more barriers.
- Add Hormone Replacement Therapy and gender validating surgery coverage to your medical benefits.
- Ensure your different leave policies — parental, bereavement, etc. — can apply to chosen family, domestic partners, adopted or foster children, partner’s family, and beyond.
Consciously Foster an Inclusive Culture
Be explicit in your support of the LGBTQ+ community and foster an inclusive culture for all employees. Normalize sharing pronouns, support and promote ERGs, let your employees know where you stand on what’s happening in the world around them, and speak out decisively against discrimination.
June 1, 2022