A new report on LGBT families that aims to educate state lawmakers may surprise some LGBT people as well.
According to the report just released by the Movement Advancement Project (MAP), Family Equality Council and Center for American Progress, more same-sex couples are raising kids in Mississippi than in any other state.
That reality is one of several laid out in "Securing Legal Ties for Children Living in LGBT Families," intended to teach policymakers about LGBT families. The report is the third in a series following MAP's "All Children Matter" report that was released last October.
The report argues that most state laws for families are based on heterosexual married couples raising kids, neglecting protections for other families, including LGBT ones.
"Regardless of whether same-sex parents plan a new family together using donor insemination or surrogacy, become foster or adoptive families, or become stepfamilies later in life, in at least 30 states, it is likely that children in these households will be legal strangers to one of their parents," the reports states.
According to the report, heterosexual married couples are raising just 69 percent of kids, a steep decline since 1970 when that percentage was 83.
Those families are racially and ethnically diverse, the report says. Forty-five percent of kids in LGBT families are of color, compared to 30 percent in heterosexual families.
LGBT families live everywhere, according to the report. Same-sex couples live in 93 percent of all U.S. counties, with more couples raising kids in Mississippi than any other state. Mississippi is followed by Wyoming, Alaska, Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kansas, Alabama, Montana, South Dakota and South Carolina. The report notes high poverty rates among half those states and well as a lack of LGBT protections within them.
In total, the report found that children in same-sex marriages were twice as prone to poverty and far less likely to qualify for government assistance because many states do not recognize LGBT households.
On top of these hardships, many children are without legal ties to their parents, the report notes. The result is that children are often barred from visitation with a non-legal parent if the parents split up, are denied inheritance and the right to sue for wrongful death and are often left to grapple with vague state laws that are open for interpretation.
Parents themselves, especially transgender parents, also face discrimination as a result.
The report recommends that state lawmakers pass laws that specifically eliminate bias against LGBT families and provide recognition for parents.
In Illinois, the report suggests allowing same-sex couples to marry, explicitly banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in the foster care and adoption systems, passing de facto parenting laws and turning case law that allows for second-parent adoption into state law.
The report was produced in partnership with the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute and the Equality Federation, which includes Equality Illinois.