6 Questions Every LGBT Person Should Ask Before Buying a Condominium

A condominium, commonly referred to as a condo, is a large building that is divided into single family units that are sold individually. Ownership includes shared community property such as the parking lot, hallway, elevator and the central heat and air conditioning unit.

condominiumBefore purchasing a condo, you should do some research so that you understand exactly what you are buying before signing on the dotted line. The laws of condo ownership are not exactly the same as they are for buying a typical single family home. Following are 6 questions every LGBT person should ask before buying a condominium.

1. What are the condo association rules and regulations? Before purchasing a condo, you should ask for copies of the condo’s bylaws and read that document. It outlines the rules and regulations that govern owners and tenants and how the association operates. There may be some rules that could impact the lifestyle you choose to lead that would be important for you to know before purchasing the condo.

Condo associations may enact rules and regulations as they deem appropriate within the confines of the law. Each state has its own statutes on what may or may not be included in those documents. For example, California Civil Code §§ 1350 – 1378, the Davis Stirling Act, dictates the authority that an association can exercise and what can and cannot be included in an association’s bylaws and rules and regulations. Because of this, you may want to review your state’s laws before looking for a condo to purchase. It will give you an idea of whether owning a condo is the best choice for you.

2. What fee does the condo association charge? Most associations charge monthly fees that are applied to the upkeep of the common property including the land surrounding the condo, the exterior of the building and any amenities such as swimming pools or banquet rooms. For example, snow and ice removal, lawn maintenance, siding and roofing. You will also want to find out if any increases are imminent and, if so, how much.

3. What maintenance does the monthly condo association fee cover? For items not covered in the fees, you will want to find out what how often special assessments are initiated and for what type of repairs. A special assessment is money that an association needs to pay for a project that is not included in the annual budget. For example, the septic system becomes damaged and must be replaced. A special assessment may be initiated to pay for the replacement. The assessment may take the form of a lump sum payment from all members of the association or an additional amount added to your monthly fees. This information will impact the amount of money that you will need to budget each month for your condo expenses.

4. Ask to look at the minutes from the condo association board meetings. Reviewing the minutes will let you know what the members are complaining about, how the association responds to those complaints, how well the association is taking care of the building, and whether the seller has been truthful about any upcoming projects that may cost you money in the form of a special assessment if you buy the condo. Not all associations will provide their minutes and most state laws do not dictate that they have to.

Even if you are allowed to read the associations minutes, you should also talk to some of the neighbors in the condo. Ask them how they like living there, what problems they are having and what they think about the condo association. Talking to the neighbors will also give you an idea of whether they are the type of people that an LGBT person or family would be comfortable living next to.

5. What does the condo association insurance cover? You will need to purchase a separate insurance policy to cover items not included in the association’s insurance, such as the inside of your condo and its contents. Some association bylaws dictate what minimum type of insurance coverage owners must purchase.

6. How much money does the condo association have? This is an important aspect because if the association has no reserve funds, they cannot afford to pay for repairs, and that cost may be assessed to the condo owners. If the condo has a bad roof and the paint is peeling and the condo has no funds in its coffers to repair the building, it is a major red flag that there are problems within the association or with its members.

The best way to purchase a condo is to hire an LGBT real estate agent who knows the neighborhood that the condo you are interested in is located. An experienced agent will also know the ins and outs involved in purchasing a condo and will guide you through the process while looking out for your best interests.

Gay Couples, Estate Issues and Real Estate

Gay couples that live in states that do not recognize same sex marriages have unique concerns when it comes to estate issues and real estate. Below are some legal avenues that you can use to protect your gay partner and ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes.

Wills

Gay WillsWills are important estate planning documents that allow you to distribute your assets according to your wishes upon your death. If you do not create a will, your estate will be distributed according to the intestate laws of the state that you live in. This presents challenges for gay couples that are not married or in a legal partnership or who live in a state where same sex marriages and partnerships are not recognized. In those states, your gay partner cannot inherit your real estate unless they are listed on the deed as joint tenancy with right of survivorship, named in your will, or other estate planning measures have been taken.

With a will, you can name your partner or another person as an executor to manage your estate after you die, record how you want your assets distributed, and nominate a guardian for your children and to handle any assets that they may inherit from you. You can leave all or a portion of your estate, including your real property, to your gay partner through a will.

Revocable Living Trusts

Revocable living trusts are similar to wills but title to your assets is transferred into a trust while you are living. A living trust allows you to avoid probate, a drawn out process where the court oversees distribution of your estate. The trust is revocable, meaning that you can revoke it entirely or change the terms while you are alive and are mentally competent. It is legal for you to appoint yourself as the trustee of the trust during your lifetime so that you retain control over the power to sell, invest or do whatever you want with your assets.

A revocable living trust allows you to direct who will inherit your property and to name a successor trustee to fulfill the directives of the trust. Your gay partner could be named as the successor trustee and it would be his obligation to distribute your property as you directed. You can leave all or a portion of your real estate, bank accounts, jewelry and other assets to your partner.

Transfer on Death Deeds

Some states allow a transfer on death, TOD, real estate deed to be filed with the county registry of deeds. The TOD should state specifically that it only takes affect upon your death. You can name your gay partner or anyone else as the beneficiary on the TOD. It can be revoked at any time while you are alive. You should check the laws in your state to determine whether TOD’s are allowed if you are interested in this type of estate planning.

Each state has its own estate planning and real estate laws. It would be wise to consult with a professional gay realtor at GayRealEstate.com for a referral to a real estate attorney who is familiar with LGBT issues when considering the options available to you and your gay partner.

LGBT Home Owners Become More Prosperous Post-DOMA

LGBT home owners are destined to be more prosperous now that DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) has been struck down by the Supreme Court but only if they are married and live in a state that has legalized gay marriage.

Money in handCurrently gay couples can only marry in twelve states and the District of Columbia. There are another seven states that recognize gay relationships as civil unions but it has yet to be seen if the striking down of DOMA creates more red tape or less red tape for gay couples trying to do the same things financial as their heterosexual neighbors. An example would be filing joint tax returns to acquire tax deductions. In the states without recognition, gay couples will be filing a return to their state without joint deductions plus a dummy return to submit with their federal tax return that does shows deductions. In this bureaucratic equivalent of a contortionist act the couple ends up filing as if they were in a state that recognizes gay marriage with a return that is only done to prop up their federal deductions.

Financial management may become more complex than ever but at the same time more disposable income for gay couples may be the picture as a result. However there may be a bit of a wait for this money to actually be in the hands of gay couples. Apparently the Internal Revenue Service computer system has yet to recognize gay marriage and automatically rejects any tax applications that have two same sexes marked on it. This glitch, mentioned on many forums and gay activist websites, needs to be fixed so that applications are not denied on a technicality to do with filling in application fields.

In the “marriage equality states” same-sex couples are now also eligible for Social Security spousal benefits. This will make it easier for these couples to demonstrate a larger income and secure better homes.  However this once again, only applies opt those LGBT citizens living in the states that give them the freedom to be married.

The most prosperity and well-being is indicated for those couples that move to a state that recognizes gay marriage and that also recognizes gay marriages performed in another state.  The Supreme Court decision did leave a harmful provision in place that does not require any state to recognize a gay marriage performed in another state. This loss of status can result in a financial blow that could keep potential LGBT buyers renting. Unfortunately couples who move to a state that refuses to recognize a legal status established elsewhere may not be able to get the same tax breaks, pension rights and property rights available to heterosexual married couples whose status is recognized all over the country.

If you are married and living in one of the states where gay marriage is recognized you are highly advised to file an amended tax return as you are now allowed to file jointly and receive the financial benefits of tax deductions. Generally, amended federal returns can be filed for any years still open under the three-year stature of limitations on refunds. However, refunds could be claimed on older years if the couple previously filed a protective claim to keep the statute of limitations open just in case this Supreme Court ruling was overturned.

Now that DOMA is struck down many gay couples that are renters or who just could not afford to buy a house may finally be able to arrange their relationships and finances so that they can do so.

Author Jeff Hammerberg is the Founding CEO of GayRealEstate.com. Free Instant Access to the Nation’s Top Gay, Lesbian and Gay Friendly Realtors Coast to Coast. FREE Buyers Representation ~ Free Relocation Kit to any City, USA ~ Free Sellers Market Analysis for home sellers.

Without DOMA it’s time for gay married couples to reexamine their finances

After celebrating the Supreme Court’s historic rulings on gay marriage last week, it’s time for same-sex married couples to sit down and go over their finances.

That’s because legally married same-sex couples are now entitled to the same federal benefits as their straight counterparts. Married gay couples can file joint federal income taxes for the first time and as spouses they won’t have to pay inheritance taxes when one partner dies.

Gay married couples to reexamine their financesBut the decision still leaves a lot of unanswered questions. What do couples who move to states that don’t recognize gay marriage do? Can they file taxes jointly? (Thirteen states — California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington — and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriage.) It could take a few months before there are clear answers, says Lisa Siegel, a senior wealth planner at Wells Fargo Private Bank. The Internal Revenue Service says that it is reviewing the Supreme Court decisions, and will offer “revised guidance in the near future.”

But gay married couples can take action now by checking in with an adviser. They may not have all the answers yet, but they can set out a plan and begin to get familiar with your circumstances, says Siegel.

Here’s what gay married couples need to consider:

FIND GOOD HELP

Before you start making financial plans, make sure the lawyer or accountant you hire have experience working with same-sex couples. “Ask them, it’s very important,” Siegel says. Because of the changing laws, finances can be more complex for gay couples. You’ll want to work someone who is already familiar with these issues.

Look for financial planners that have received the accredited domestic partnership advisor designation, or ADPA. That designation means that planner has been trained in domestic partnership issues. You can search for planners with an ADPA designation here: http://apne.ws/12HkbAo .

Lambda Legal, a legal nonprofit that fights for equal rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, can refer you to lawyers if you call their help desk. Go to www.lambdalegal.org/help for the phone numbers.

Pride Planners, an organization of financial professionals that helps gay and lesbian people, has a search function on its websites to find financial planners and accountants in most states around the country. Go to PridePlanners.com to conduct a search.

Local newspapers and other publications for the gay community can be a resource. Look for professionals who advertise in the paper, says Sharon Rich, a financial planner and founder of Pride Planners. Or you can ask friends for referrals.

CALL A TAX ACCOUNTANT

Married couples who filed separate federal income taxes in the past couple of years may be entitled to a refund, says Elda Di Re, a partner in Ernst & Young’s personal financial services group.

Ask a tax accountant to amend your past returns to determine if you would have gotten a refund if you had filed jointly. The IRS allows taxpayers to amend income taxes from the past three years.

Filing jointly is not always beneficial. Couples in which one person earns much more than the other could see a refund. But if both people have high incomes, they will probably pay more taxes than if they filed separately, says Mark Luscombe, an analyst at tax software and services company CCH.

It’s still unclear if the IRS will be giving out refunds, but experts expect the IRS to allow couples to amend their returns. So ask your accountant to run the numbers now, or amend the returns yourself on any tax software you may have used.

Widowed individuals who were in same-sex marriages and paid inheritance taxes may also be able to get that money back, says Luscombe.

REVIEW YOUR BENEFICIARY DESIGNATIONS

Check with your employer and see who the beneficiary is on your 401(k) plan. 401(k) accountholders should know that their spouse will automatically inherit the account, unless the spouse signs a waiver. So if couples want to make other arrangements, it needs to be outlined clearly in the beneficiary form and, if necessary, a waiver needs to be in place from the spouse, says Alexander Popovich, a wealth adviser at JP Morgan Private Bank.

You should also check to see if your spouse is a beneficiary on your life insurance and any other retirement accounts, such as an individual retirement account, says Alexander Popovich, a wealth adviser at JP Morgan Private Bank.

REEXAMINE REAL ESTATE DEEDS

Some married gay couples may have left spouses out of real estate deeds to avoid a gift tax, which is triggered when someone transfers money or property to another person, says Popovich. Same-sex married couples no longer have to pay gift taxes after the Supreme Court ruling. If you want to add a spouse to a real estate deed, speak to a lawyer who can make that change.

REVISIT YOUR WILL

Now that married gay spouses don’t have to pay federal estate taxes on anything they inherit after a spouse’s death, married couples should review their will to see if it makes sense in the current environment, says John Olivieri, a partner at law firm White & Case.

CHECK HEALTH BENEFITS

If your employer didn’t allow you to name your spouse on your health insurance, it should now, says Frank Fantozzi, a wealth planner and founder of Planned Financial Services. Couples should check to see whose health benefits are cheaper, or which employer offers more coverage and decide if they want to make a change.

Follow Joseph Pisani at http://twitter.com/josephpisani

LGBT Real Estate & Tax Benefits Post DOMA

On June 26th, 2013, the Supreme Court finally scrapped the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA); the law signed by President Clinton in 1996 that consequently denied same-sex couples 1,138 federal privileges and programs that were available to opposite-sex couples. During a historic 5-4 decision the Supreme Court struck down this law that cost many LGBT couples thousands of dollars in taxes that could not be declared as well as many wasted hours doing unnecessary property tax returns. The law also sentenced LGBT spouses to a poverty-stricken old-age as they were not exempt from property taxes if an estate was passed on to them after their spouse’s death.

LGBT Real Estate & Tax BenefitsAlthough it is good news that marriage is no longer strictly defined as a union between a man and woman on the federal level, the sobering fact is there are only twelve states plus the District of Columbia that recognize gay marriage as legal at the state level. The great news is that if you live in one of these states you will soon be able to benefit from tax breaks and spousal benefits that were previously denied to you. Gay and lesbian couples will no longer be shouldering the higher tax burden that they have for decades because they can now file estate tax exemptions and head of household deductions.

In fact, it is highly recommended that if you are in a gay or lesbian relationship that you keep in close touch with your accountant/cpa over the next few weeks to see if it is appropriate for you to file amended tax returns for the past couple of years. As DOMA was declared unconstitutional it may be possible for some couples to recoup money paid out in separate returns if your joint return far exceeds those threshold deductions.

Same-sex spouses can also now file tax returns jointly, which will also help the couple build a nest egg sooner. This will help many LGBT couples afford a larger home if desired, and possibly build an investment property portfolio. In some states where marriage is legal couples had to file jointly with the state and then follow up with individual tax returns that had them splitting their income. For many individuals this meant that not enough money was declared to meet the minimum deduction threshold, whereas sometimes thousands of dollars could have been saved if they had been allowed to file the taxes jointly in the same way as the married same-sex couple living next door!

The ability to file joint tax returns also makes processing credit easier for LGBT couples. The amount of paperwork required to composite the two separate incomes, credit scores and other aspects of the mortgage application will now be much less complicated.

The striking down of the federal Defense of Marriage Act also means that gay couples can now pass their assets on to a surviving spouse without having to pay real-estate taxes that prohibit them for doing so. Over the long term many gay couples will be able to also collect spousal benefits under Social Security or because they were married to a veteran which in turn allows them to stay in their home longer and benefit from the escalation of value of the equity in the home over time.

Overall LGBT individuals can expect to become more prosperous if they are legally married. However if the couple moves from a state where gay marriage is legal to one that is not, they may be facing some very interesting bureaucratic snarls that prevent them from having all of their rights recognized even though they are living in the post-DOMA era. Those that do live in the states where gay marriage is legal will find themselves enjoying real prosperity, less red tape and peace of mind.

Author Jeff Hammerberg is the Founding CEO of GayRealEstate.com. Free Instant Access to the Nation’s Top Gay, Lesbian and Gay Friendly Realtors Coast to Coast. FREE Buyers Representation ~ Free Relocation Kit to any City, USA ~ Free Sellers Market Analysis for home sellers.

Does Your City Provide LGBT Workplace Protections?

A Broken Bargain Report CoverThe Movement Advancement Project (MAP), the Center for American Progress (CAP), and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) released a comprehensive new report examining the myriad hardships and barriers facing lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) workers across the country. That report, called A Broken Bargain, puts together for the first time all available information about LGBT workplace issues. According to the report: If fairness and equality are part of America’s basic workplace bargain, this bargain is clearly broken for LGBT workers. This broken bargain, in turn, can create an untenable situation for employers.

One of the initial findings from this report unearths the unique demographic characteristics of LGBT workers in the United States. For example, the report finds that:

  • LGBT workers are racially and ethnically diverse. One in three LGBT respondents (33%) in a 2012 Gallup poll identified as people of color, compared to 27% of non-LGBT individuals.
  • LGBT workers are geographically dispersed. As many as 4.3 million LGBT people live in states with no state laws providing employment protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.
  • LGBT workers in the United States are at a higher risk of poverty than other workers. Among the hardest-hit by the broken bargain for LGBT workers are those who are parents, together with their children.

In creating this comprehensive resource, researchers then examined the one-two-three punch that LGBT workers in America face: discrimination in employment, fewer benefits, and higher taxes, simply based on their LGBT status.

Workplace Discrimination: LGBT workers can put their job prospects at risk if they disclose that they are LGBT while looking for work. All too often, when a worker identifies as LGBT at work, they are subjected to a hostile work environment where they could hear anti-gay slurs and verbal ” and sometimes physical ” harassment. In addition to job and workplace discrimination, LGBT employees face wage disparities that make it harder for them to provide for themselves and their families. In 2012, a meta-analysis of 12 studies examining wage disparities among gay and bisexual men concluded that they earn 10 to 32 percent less than similarly-situated heterosexual men. This means if a gay or bisexual man had a salary of $30,000, his heterosexual counterpart could make approximately $10,000 more, which could be used to provide for himself and his family.

Fewer Benefits: LGBT workers still experience unequal benefits even if they are permanently employed. Under federal and most state laws, health coverage extended to married opposite-sex couples can still be denied to same-sex couples. Because the federal government does not legally recognize same-sex marriages under DOMA, LGBT employees do not have equal access to federally mandated unpaid leave to provide care for same-sex spouses. For example, a lesbian would not receive the same leave to provide for her ailing partner, while her heterosexual counterpart would receive the mandated leave to provide care to his wife. Unfortunately, this is one of many examples of how LGBT workers have fewer federal and state benefits.

More Taxes: When employers elect to offer family coverage to LGBT workers, most of them have to pay thousands of dollars in extra taxes on the value of the family coverage, although heterosexual workers get the same benefits tax-free. State marriage and parenting laws, combined with the federal government’s lack of recognition of same-sex couples, mean that LGBT workers pay more taxes because they cannot use the “married filing jointly” status. Consider an LGBT family with one working parent who has a taxable income of $60,000 a year and a stay-at-home parent who has no income. The inability to file a federal tax return as a married couple costs the LGBT family $2,902 in additional taxes.

Finally, A Broken Bargain includes a series of policy and legal recommendations to business leaders and politicians. If enacted, these recommendations would finally place LGBT workers on equal footing with their non-LGBT counterparts. Going forward, those working on advancing LGBT workplace equality will now have a seminal and comprehensive guide to turn to for research  and resources when making the case for laws like the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would finally make it illegal in all 50 states to fire someone for being LGBT  it’s still legal in a majority of states.

With momentum building around marriage equality, it’s time that lawmakers start considering other aspects of LGBT equality as well, including workplace equality. Only by instituting the right laws and policies, such as those outlined in the report, can we fix the broken bargain for LGBT workers.

Preston Mitchum is a policy analyst for LGBT Progress.

Chicago #1 LGBT Sports City in the USA

Top LGBT SportsIt’s been quite a year when it comes to the melding of the lgbt world and sports world. Several current and former players have come out as gay including, former Boston Celtic Jason Collins, WNBA star Brittney Griner, and recently MLS  player Robbie Rogers.

On the heels of all of this momentum Nike recently held its second annual Nike LGBT Sports Summit which brought together advocacy groups, athletes, coaches, and journalists to discuss the LGBT community in the world of professional sports.

In addition, New York marketing firm Target 10 has released its list of Top 10 LGBT Sports Cities in the country. The list was compiled by using data such as LGBT population, number of gay sports leagues, number of gay sports bars, as well as a few other data points.

Boston ranked 6th on the list behind Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Washington DC, and Atlanta. Rounding out the top 10 were Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas and Philadelphia.

This blog is not written or edited by GayRealEstateAgents.com ~ the author is solely responsible for the content. See the original post at Boston.com

Gay Couples have a Positive Impact on a Community’s Home Values

Gay CoupleTime to thank your neighbors for their nice flower boxes. A new study summarized by the Harvard Business Review confirms what’s become conventional wisdom in many urban areas that gay couples have a positive impact on a community’s home values. But there’s a surprising twist:

The addition of one same-sex couple for every 1,000 households is associated with a 1% increase in home prices in U.S. neighborhoods that are socially liberal, but a 1% drop in neighborhoods that are extremely conservative, say David Christafore of Konkuk University in South Korea and Susane Leguizamon of Tulane University. Their study of more than 20,000 real estate transactions in Ohio in 2000 supports previous findings that migration of same-sex couples to an area increases home values, in part because these residents tend to develop or enhance cultural amenities. But the new research suggests that in socially conservative areas, housing prices reflect prejudice against gays.

The stereotypes about gays and gentrification and home improvement are so entrenched that it’s easy to forget that one of the most characteristic events in contemporary gay life is that of needing to get the hell out of the town where they were raised. Gay people often have to move to get away from communities prejudiced against them if they want to live authentic lives or avoid frequent unpleasant social interactions. The data on home values provides a hint of what happens when they don’t.

Garance Franke-Ruta | The Atlantic

Moving Not Possible for Many LGBT Families

As a recent article in the Los Angeles Times addresses, lesbian and gay parents are often rearing children in unexpected places. Namely, according to the analysis of U.S. census data, more than one in four same-sex couples in Salt Lake City, Utah, are rearing children. Besides the Utah capital, other large urban areas where high percentages of same-sex couples are raising children include Virginia Beach, Va.; Detroit, Mich.; and Memphis, Tenn., all of which are places where more than a fifth of same-sex couples are bringing up children. Indeed, according to the article, “a striking percentage of same-sex couples are rearing children … in conservative places not known for celebrating gays and lesbians.” For example, among states, Mississippi has the highest percentage of gay and lesbian couples raising children (26 percent), according to the analysis of U.S. census data.

As the Los Angeles Times article notes, “this fact may seem at odds with perceptions that San Francisco and New York are the centers of gay and lesbian life. Pop culture depicts gays and lesbians turning to adoption, sperm banks or surrogacy to form families in decidedly liberal cities such as Los Angeles.”

So why are same-sex couples raising children in these areas, as opposed to moving to more gay-friendly and urban areas? Among the key reasons are cost of living and family ties. Indeed, as I told the Los Angeles Times, “When you ask, ‘Why are you living here?’ [lesbian and gay parents in rural areas] almost always say family. It shouldn’t really be surprising. They value family — and now they’re creating families of their own.”

Little research has focused on the experiences of lesbian and gay parents living in rural and/or conservative geographic areas. Yet it should. As I describe in my book Gay Dads: Transitions to Adoptive Fatherhood (NYU Press, 2012), lesbian and gay parents — and prospective parents — in rural and/or conservative areas of the U.S. often encounter many barriers and challenges related to their sexual orientation. In an ironic twist, many of the states with the highest percentages of same-sex couples raising children are those with the most anti-gay laws. For example, they are among those with constitutional amendments banning marriage for same-sex couples, and those that prevent same-sex partners from jointly adopting children. Thus, lesbian and gay parents living in these areas encounter legal obstacles in building and protecting their families, which contributes to a sense of legal vulnerability. As Gregory, a 40-year-old gay man whose partner legally adopted their son because their state did not allow same-sex partners to jointly adopt a child, shared with me, “It’s not just my rights. It’s the child’s rights. If I get killed in a car accident … the child has no rights to inherit anything from me. He has no rights to my Social Security. No one does, actually” (Gay Dads p. 83).

Becoming parents may make same-sex couples more sensitive to legal inequities and the importance of legal equality (e.g., with respect to gay adoption, and with respect to marriage equality). For example, I found that many of the gay men in my study felt that parenthood had fostered in them a greater sense of awareness — even activism — about legal equality, such that they were more impassioned advocates of gay rights than they had been pre-parenthood. The couples I interviewed voiced their sense that not only would access to adoption and marriage provide legal recognition of their family ties, but it would provide social recognition. They felt that being able to have both men adopt their child, and being able to get legally married, “would probably add some validation to our family as a unit … in the eyes of … society in general.” As Russell, 41, explained, “It’s weird that [my feelings about marriage equality] have changed, but [they have]. I think that with the addition of Christopher, it becomes more important. I don’t want him as a child to feel second-class status about his family” (Gay Dads p. 89).

Now well into the second decade of the 21st century, we are marching toward a future where equality for LGBTQ people seems possible — at least in some parts of the country. But it is important not to forget all those LGBTQ people, and same-sex couples with children specifically, who reside in the “less obvious” places in the U.S., and who deserve — but often lack — legal rights and protections. Moving is neither possible nor desirable for many of these families. Thus, our efforts to secure equal rights for all families must extend into these regions, until equality becomes the national language.

Source: Abbie Goldberg, Associate Professor or Psychology

“Post-gay” America on the rise; a more diverse and optimistic place

The 2010 US Census data are showing some major transformations in the demographics of cities across the country. Chiefly, that unmarried and same-sex couples raising children are moving into neighborhoods once the exclusive redoubts of the nuclear family. In Indiana state, New York City and one Seattle neighborhood, Census data recorded an upsurge in unmarried and/or same-sex couples at 33 percent up 27 % and 55 % respectively. Incredibly, the staunchly conservative South is becoming a popular place for same-sex couples to raise children. By some estimates, nearly one-third of all gay couples living in the South are raising children in cities likeJacksonville,Florida. 

Demographic researchers are attributing this seismic social shift to redoubled gay rights advocacy and awareness campaigns over the last decade. Importantly, stereotypes have been lifted as gay couples move in next door. The average American has a more nuanced perception of gays and gay couples. TheUScensus data also found that black and Latino couples were twice as likely to raise children as whites. As one gay-friendly marketer put it, “[people] are beginning to see that the gay community is very diverse.”

 

Committed, same-sex couples tend to make more money

Gay and lesbian partners, though still ensconced in the struggle for full legal recognition under Federal Law, have injected these communities with new vitality. The business revenue and tax dollars associated with an influx of new, gay money is startling, but not surprising. Almost comically, social and urban studies report that gay money is as good as straight money. These reports indicate that established gay and lesbian couples tend to be more financially stable than their straight counterparts, too.

In 2009, a Community Marketing study concluded that the per capita income of a same-sex household was $81,500—nearly 80 percent greater than the averageUShousehold. That same study determined that forty percent of gay households report income of $100,000+. Thirty-six percent of lesbian households reported an income 100,000 or more—keep in mind that equal pay for equal work for women remains unresolved.

When same sex couples go on vacation, they spend more than their heterosexual counterparts. To explain this, one threadbare argument asserts that same-sex couples don’t have the associated costs of raising a family. Because of this, they implicitly have more expendable income. What is closer to reality is that same-sex couples invest more time in their education and relationships before settling down—just like heterosexual pairs of similar financial backgrounds.

 

Same sex couples commit responsibly, not when obliged to

Same-sex couples can and do provide a child everything a straight couple can, and are more likely to wait until they have firmly rooted themselves in a community.Seattle’s affluent Capital Hill is just one example of a gay-friendly neighborhood that has been overrun with same-sex couples that have the means and paternal desire to raise a family. The average household income of Capital Hill is about $50,000 dollars—about 5,000 dollars more than the national average. Arguably, same sex couples are better suited to provide a stable home for children because they settle down when they are good and ready.

In a country neatly transfixed by teen-pregnancy television, can one reasonably argue that heterosexual coupling provides a more stable home? Heterosexuals are permitted by society to ‘learn along the way,’ where same sex couples are regularly subject to the rigors and heartache of archaic adoption laws and practices.

Economic uncertainty has cast a long, menacing shadow over the future of once prosperous communities in many states. All told, homes lost to foreclosure or short sales total in the millions. A recent Federal study has determined that families are splitting up in order to live as they did before foreclosure. This social upheaval has been traumatic and precipitated an unforeseen up tick in crime and poverty in neighborhoods where the mortgage crisis has hit the worst.

 

Front-row seat on a magical transformation

In the early 2000’s, immigrants fromSouth Americatransformed many crime-ridden, destitute communities into well-groomed, financially solvent places.

Bringing with them the gifts of their own migration pattern, established same-sex couples come bearing political clout, money and education. This combination isn’t just transforming beleaguered communities, but enlivening every community they touch with diversity, intellect and culture.

Online real estate vehicles such as www.gayrealestate.com have been instrumental in connecting same sex couples with gay-friendly real estate agents and communities. Post-gay America is a place of pronounced ambition, equality and optimism. Same-sex couples are civic leaders and example parents that any reasonable community should welcome. What is more, gay rights business groups and advocates, like gayrealestate.com, have been undeniable power brokers of investment and equality, breathing new life in the communities they live and work.

Jeffery Hammerberg, Founding CEO of GayRealEstate.com, the world’s largest
online network of LGBT real estate professionals.