Out Law by Angela Giampolo

Angela D. Giampolo, principal of Giampolo Law Group, maintains offices in New Jersey and Pennsylvania and specializes in LGBT law, family law, business law, real estate law and civil rights. Her website is www.giampololaw.com and she maintains a blog at www.phillygaylawyer.com. Reach out to Angela with your legal questions at 215-645-2415 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


For 17 years, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” forcibly closeted tens of thousands of military servicemen and women. Originally designed as a compromise between lawmakers and military personnel who wanted the ban on LGBTQ servicemembers lifted and those who didn’t, the reality of DADT encouraged an environment in which discrimination and prejudice festered, and those most hurt by it had no recourse because they faced dishonorable discharge. Over the lifespan of DADT, more than 14,000 servicemembers were given discharges due to their sexual orientation. The 2011 repeal of DADT, however, lifted that albatross from the necks of our LGBTQ servicemembers, allowing them to live authentically both in and out of uniform. Now we have a military that accepts any qualified person willing to serve — and with the daily reminder of the dangers at our country’s doorstep, better late than never. 

LGBT equality has been an important topic in the United States for the last several years, and the legal strides we’ve made to improve our lives have been impressive. We still have a way to go in changing laws and minds but in other parts of the world, it’s much, much worse. 

On Feb. 24, 2004, then-President George W. Bush announced that he supported a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, declaring it was the only way to protect the status of marriage between man and woman, which he called “the most fundamental institution of civilization.”

So much has changed since that day in October when we all rejoiced at the announcement that the Supreme Court of the United States would hear G. G. v. Gloucester County School Board and review a decision of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals regarding the discrimination of transgender people in the educational system. We thought this case was potentially setting precedent that sexual identification is a classification eligible for legal protection. So much has changed since then that the very basis of the case and why SCOTUS agreed to hear it has been jeopardized.

I won’t mince words: Each day, values that we hold dear — inclusion, tolerance and equality — are in danger like never before. Over the past two weeks, we’ve seen Americans ban together in unprecedented ways, from the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., to a small town in Alaska where 2 feet of snow fell as they marched, to hundreds of international cities around the world and most recently at airports everywhere. It has been inspiring.

Well, congratulations! If for nothing else, congratulations on surviving one of the most tumultuous, confusing, disappointing and momentous years … ever.

I have never fielded more phone calls, emails and Facebook messages than since the passage of marriage equality as I did this week. That’s because everyone in the LGBT community is concerned about the state of their rights. For those wondering how actively President-elect Donald J. Trump wants to roll back LGBT rights, this is the first in a series of columns outlining the possible ramifications of his administration on the progress we’ve made.

The LGBT community has been making long-deserved strides recently in obtaining equal protection under the law. With decisions like Windsor and Obergefell, we have precedents protecting us from discrimination based on whom we love.

Most LGBT couples spend upwards of $5,000 to go through the adoption process in the United States. As always, Canada is about to make life that much easier for LGBT couples having families. Lawmakers in Ontario introduced legislation last week to give same-sex parents who aren’t biologically related to their children the same legal rights as heterosexual moms and dads. No longer will people who were not previously legally considered parents have to live in fear they cannot make medical and other decisions about their children if a spouse becomes incapacitated.

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