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In a time when equality for the LGBTQ-plus community is a distant dream, a few U.S. lawmakers are pushing legislation that aims to prove America is willing to fight not only for LGBTQ equality but also for LGBTQ lives around the world.  The introduction of two new bills — Promoting Respect for Individuals Dignity and Equality Act (“PRIDE Act”), which would act as a form of reparations for the financial harm unjust tax laws caused prior to marriage equality and Greater Leadership Overseas for the Benefit of Equality Act  (“GLOBE Act”), which would protect LGBTQ individuals from discrimination internationally — look to bring the U.S. and the world closer to equality for LGBTQ individuals.

At 6:36 p.m. Aug. 7, 2018, Jackson Anthony Colletta burst his way into the world. He was screaming, covered in gook and perfect. While Ashlee lay on the operating table with who knows what going on under the blue sheet that covered her from the neck down, we gave him his first kisses, cried and tried awkwardly to figure out the best way to hold a newborn, simultaneously terrified of how tiny his 5-pound, 4-ounce body seemed — all while marveling that someone so small could command the attention of the entire room. It was surreal and a moment neither of us will ever forget.

Physical activity is important for longevity, increasing energy levels, reducing stress, weight management and much more.  While people are aware of the benefits of physical activity, not everyone thinks about recovery.

Q:  Some of my coworkers put money into HSAs.  I’m not sure if this is something I should consider.  Can you please tell me a bit more about how they work?

A:  Thanks for this question.  Many more people today understand the potential benefits of contributing to a Health Savings Account (HSA).  Here’s what you should know to determine if this may be a good choice for you.

LGBT families have spent decades fighting for legal recognition and protection. Many of us recall a time not that long ago when children in our Commonwealth could not have two legal parents of the same sex. On August 20, 2002, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in In Re Adoption of R.B.F. and R.C.F. held that a person may adopt the legal child of his or her unmarried partner without the first parent terminating his or her parental rights. While this process is similar to stepparent adoption, the Court did not apply the stepparent exception of the Adoption Act (which allows a stepparent to adopt without the existing legal parent having to terminate his or her parental rights) because, at the time, same-sex partners could not marry due to the Pennsylvania Defense of Marriage Act (Pa DOMA). 

The federal court decision in Whitewood v. Wolf, which legalized same-sex marriage in the Commonwealth in 2014, opened the door for stepparent adoptions for married same-sex couples in Pennsylvania. After the Whitewood decision, on May 31, 2016, the Pennsylvania Department of Health issued guidance to hospitals advising them that both mothers should be listed on the original birth certificate where a child is born to a married same-sex female couple. Since that time, throughout the Commonwealth, birth certificates issued to children with married female parents have listed both women’s names on the original birth certificate. This is also true when a child is born to a married couple when one parent is transgender and one parent is not biologically related to the child. For male couples using a surrogate, a pre-birth order must be obtained to name both fathers on the original birth certificate.

While issuing birth certificates in this manner appeared to be a major step forward to securing the parental rights of both same-sex parents to their children, it has, instead, created a false sense of security for parents who are not biologically related to their children. Although a birth certificate is a state-issued document, it is not a legal determination of parenthood.

Sadly, the fiercest attacks on LGBT families often come from members of our community when they are engaged in custody battles. In my practice, I have often defended a nonbiological parent against a biological parent’s challenges to the legal parental rights of the nonbiological parent, even when the couple had planned for and raised the child together. 

The word “parent” is not defined by in any Pennsylvania custody statute. There is no question that a “parent” includes those who are biologically related to, or who have adopted, a child. C.G. v. J.H., the most recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court case to examine this issue, suggested that an individual may also be a parent by a presumption of parentage created through marriage or a contract where a child is conceived through assisted reproduction. However, in the C.G. case, the court found that there was neither a contract nor marriage; thus, whether a same-sex partner is a parent through the “marital presumption” or by being a party to an assisted reproductive contract is a question that has not been definitively answered in Pennsylvania.

For this reason, I always recommend that nonbiological parents confirm their legal rights through adoption. Although few anticipate that their legal rights may ever be challenged by the other parent, governmental entities or other family members, an adoption ensures that the adopting parent’s rights will be recognized. This is simply the best “insurance policy” to protect against a challenge to one’s parental rights. A judgment of adoption is recognized not just in Pennsylvania, but in every state in the country. Because state laws vary and parenthood is determined in the state at the time the question is raised, it is important to know that your parental rights will be protected no matter where you live in the future.  

At long last, North Carolina’s House Bill 2 is dead.

For those who may not know the significance, I’ll explain: The Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, otherwise known as HB2, was a bill passed in North Carolina in 2016. Created in part as a reaction to Charlotte, North Carolina’s Ordinance 7056, passed earlier that year prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity within a few specific categories, including public accommodations.

This past Pride Month saw an explosion of rainbows on products from sneakers to snack foods, reenergizing the debate over whether and how corporate America should be involved in Pride. For me, two things come to bear here: My belief that companies should support LGBTQ equality if they are going to market to us — and the fact that my family would not exist as it does now if it was not for the benefits my spouse and I received from the companies where we worked.

Warm days and long periods of sunlight can be great for spending time outdoors, relaxing, vacationing and socializing with friends and neighbors, offering plenty of reasons to enjoy summer weather.

Before Ashlee and I took Jackson on his first family vacation earlier this summer, she shared a bit of advice a friend had mentioned: “Once you have a child, it’s not ‘vacation,’ it’s ‘making memories.’” That became a mantra we repeated many times throughout the weekend trip to Cape May, as we frantically covered our dog’s eyes so she wouldn’t bark at passing motorcyclists and wake the baby on our drive down, as Jackson peed all over my entire chest on the beach and as he had his first accidental dunking in a pool. Making memories, making memories!

Though we were only gone for 72 hours, we left with tons of memories and just as many photos — and also a few lessons:

Scarlett Johansson is in the news again.

The actress and sometimes singer faced heavy criticism after she — a white woman — played an Asian woman in the live-action adaptation of “Ghost in the Shell” in 2015.

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