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UrbanSocialites would like to congratulate my friend Kafara Heard in here new leadership role with Family Equality Council as a new member of the Southern Advisory Council effecting change is it relates to LGBTQ equality.
US Ambassador What is the mission of Family Equality Council and the reason you decided to become involved?
Family Equality Council is committed to the futures in which families with parents who are lesbian, gay, bisexual; transgender and queer are legally recognized, valued by society, and afforded equal opportunity to thrive. We foster supportive communities educate the public and pursue policy change to advance equality for LGBTQ headed families across the United States. As a lesbian parent, it is important to me that other LGBTQ parents have communities of support and are aware of policies at both the state and federal level that affect our families.
US Ambassador What are some challenges parents and future parent are facing as it relates to being LGBT?
We can break these challenges into two categories: legal and lived equality. Legal challenges include matters such as relationship recognition and securing the parent child relationship. If two parents are not married or if they are married and not living in a state that recognizes their marriage, the families are vulnerable. Without a legal adoption in place, children are unable to access the range of services available to them from one parent. These families are also vulnerable to discrimination for day to day matters like, making health related decisions or registering the child for school. The simple notion of needing to travel around with paperwork, even if an adoption is in place and you are married, is challenging because if you visit a state where your union isn’t recognized, you may encounter people that still give you a hard time. That takes me into the lived equality part.
As it relates to lived equality, matters that people don’t think about like a school form asking for mother/father or being turned away from a restaurant or business because of who you love or what someone assumes about your sexual orientation or gender identity are challenges. Can you imagine your child being sick and having a hospital representative prevent you from seeing your child, or allowing only one parent to see the child? Legal equality can be fought for through the legislative process, but lived equality is one of those things that take time. Even if legislation passes and people are forced to comply with law, the civil rights movement shows us that lived equality doesn’t just happen. Discrimination and homophobia are rooted in personal feelings and that takes time to change.
US Ambassador What is the focus of Family Equality for the year of 2015 and the initiative specific to metro Atlanta?
In 2015, we are continuing our Families in the South initiative in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. We hosted a legal clinic for low-income families in Mississippi and are working to produce additional legal clinics across those states. LGBTQ families are disproportionately low-income and we want to ensure that families are aware of their rights and are able to secure their families within the confines of their state laws. We will host workshops for family planning as well as events that provide LGBTQ parents with opportunities to connect with other parents and ensure they are supported throughout their life cycle. We are also collaborating with Georgia Equality, It Gets Better and other organizations to ensure we are aware of the needs of metro Atlanta and Georgia residents so we are providing the nest support. The ultimate power to change unjust systems resides with informed and organized citizens participating in civic, community and political life; and we believe that working in collaboration is the only way to create lasting social change.
US Ambassador How do you intend to communicate to others how to become involved with your organization?
Although the Your Favorite Couple organization promotes, empower, and support healthy relationships; as a new mom we have decided to add FAMILY DAY and YFC ADOLESCENCE LGBTQ SUPPORT GROUP to our 2015 Agenda in addition to the LGBTQ GALA and MARRIGE BALL events. Through these efforts and community involvement we look forward to a great 2015.
US Ambassador How do you envision making your voice heard in the African American LGBT community?
When I heard this question, a quote from Dr. Todd Shaw comes to mind, the founder of SC Black Pride organization, he said, “Find, understand and listen to your OWN voice.” I believe that it’s not about making my voice heard but for all of our voices to be heard. In the African American community we have a responsibility to propel our culture forward for generation after generation to see. As a community I feel that we are under attack by society and each other. Instead of uplifting one another and/or coming together at the right time consistently standing for what’s positive and what strategically makes sense, we begin to act like crabs in a jar constantly pulling one another down. My vision is to show a different side of the spectrum, assist in changing the enslaved mentality we can sometimes have in the African American culture and to uplift our people to continue to boldly stand up for the greater good of our LGBTQ community. I believe we can accomplish that in interviews, rallies, in town hall meetings… step by step changes are made and voices are heard and what we are doing now for marriage equality, family equality, race relations recognizes the fruits of our labor in the majority of our nation and around the world.
Interviewed by Rameses Frederick
Photo Credit: Tery Wilson