Change the World

What Does a Trump Presidency Mean for Gay Dads?

Many of us are still struggling to understand the enormity of what transpired on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. It’ll be a while, still, before the fog fully dissipates.

As parents, however, we won’t have the luxury of feeling sorry for ourselves for much longer. We will soon need to clear our eyes, get to higher ground, and confront questions far too many of us dismissed as laughable over the course of the last 18 months:

What does a Trump presidency mean for our families? 

It's tempting to gobble up the breadcrumbs Trump has scattered along the campaign trail for us that suggest he isn’t personally hostile towards LGBT families. After all, isn’t this the guy who suggested transgender people use the bathroom of their choice? And who mentioned the acronym “LGBT” during his convention speech? And who proudly held up a rainbow flag at a rally a couple weeks ago?

Yes, but let’s not kid ourselves. Regardless of his personal views, Trump now stands atop a party that has doubled down on its anti-LGBT agenda: The platform ratified by the Republican National Committee this past July was arguably the most anti-LGBT in history. Perhaps even more troubling are the prominent LGBT foes Trump has picked as his confidants and advisers — most notably Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who was a champion of anti-LGBT causes while governor of Indiana and is shaping up to be a formidable force in the Trump administration.

But let’s also not get despondent. Even if Trump aggressively pursues an anti-LGBT agenda, there are limits to what he can do to our families, particularly in the way they relate to our marriages and parental rights.

Is my marriage safe?

On “60 Minutes” yesterday, Trump said he considers the issue of same-sex marriage “settled,” thanks to the 2015 Supreme Court case that established a nationwide right to same-sex marriage. During the campaign, however, he promised to “strongly consider” working towards overturning marriage equality by appointing anti-marriage equality judges.

Which Trump will we get? We will soon find out.

Trump will have an immediate opportunity to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by Justice Scalia’s death.  The addition of an anti-LGBT justice will simply restore the 5-4 split on the court that led to nationwide marriage equality. If Trump is serious about a challenge to marriage equality, he will need to wait for an additional vacancy from the court’s liberal wing. That day may be sooner than we’d hope — three of the five justices who voted for marriage equality are 78 years old or older.

Still, most LGBT groups and legal advocates assume that marriage equality is safe, at least in the short term. Even if Trump is able to stack the Supreme Court with homophobic judges, the justices may not be eager to hear a new case on the matter so soon after the 2015 decision. It is exceedingly rare, moreover, for the court to reverse itself.  Perhaps most encouragingly, marriage equality now enjoys support from a firm majority of the American public, with no signs of abating. The justices are often reluctant to issue sweeping decisions that are so out of step with public opinion.

But let’s continue down this dark, dank rabbit hole for a moment longer and assume Trump’s Supreme Court does effectively overturn marriage equality. What happens then?

If you are currently married, you will very likely remain so. As Shannon Minter of the National Center for Lesbian Rights wrote in a guest post for the Equality Federation, “The law is very strong that if a marriage is valid when entered, it cannot be invalidated by any subsequent change in the law. So people who are already married should not be concerned that their marriages can be taken away.”

Are my parental rights secured?

If you are legally married or have your name on the birth certificate of your children, you likely have nothing to fear. As long as same-sex marriage remains the law of the land, there are unlikely to be any specific threats to LGBT parenting rights across the country. Obergefell v. Hodges clearly states that same-sex couples should be treated the same as every other married couple — and that includes status as parents.

However, if you are a non-biological parent, you can and should take steps to ensure you have secured legal ties to your children. Well before Trump's ascendancy, family lawyers have long suggested that non-biological parents secure a formal adoption judgment from a court. In fact, even if you are married to your partner, and both of your names are on the birth certificate of your child, obtaining a second parent adoption is still the best way to shore up your parental rights.

In the unlikely event that the right to same-sex marriage nationwide is invalidated, moreover, obtaining a second-parent adoption will help assure your parental status even in localities that no longer recognize marriage equality. According to the LGBT civil rights organization Lambda Legal, this is because court judgments must be respected state-to-state, and by the federal government.

Check to see if second-parent adoption is legal in your state. If it is not, Lambda Legal suggests pursuing an adoption in a neighboring state. Other suggestions: Make sure that each child’s Social Security number record lists both parents as the child’s legal parents, and obtain a passport for each child that lists both parents as the child’s legal parents.


The integrity of our marriages and families may be safe, but this should not be interpreted as an invitation for complacency. Equality foes are already salivating at the opportunity provided by a Trump administration to attack our community. While they face an uphill battle going after  issues involving marriage and parental rights, we could have challenging fights ahead of us to protect other advances made under President Obama, notably anti-discrimination policies, transgender rights and health care for our community.

And lest we fail to recognize our responsibilities for the entire LGBT community, let’s remember that we are also women, immigrants, and racial and religious minorities. Our marriages may be safe, but an attack on any of these communities is also an attack on us.

So let’s take a deep breath. Take a moment to hug your family a little bit closer. And then get back to work.

Show Comments ()

Today is National Coming Out Day, and as we celebrate, we're sharing six coming out stories from dads in our community. Their personal stories are heartwarming, relatable, and empowering. Happy Coming Out Day, and remember, live your truth!

Keep reading... Show less
Change the World

10 Inspiring Coming Out Stories From Gay Dads

Happy National Coming Out Day! To celebrate, we've rounded up some of our recent stories about gay men with kids coming out to live their most authentic lives.

Happy National Coming Out Day! To celebrate, we've rounded up some of our best articles of gay dads coming out to live their authentic lives.

#1. Former NFL Player Jeff Rohrer, and Father of Two, Comes Out as Gay and Marries Longterm Partner

Jeff Rohrer, a father of two teenage boys via a previous relationship with a woman, is the first NFL player to marry another man. Read the article here.

#2. Coming Out to His Wife Was Painful, Says This Salt Lake-Based Dad of Four. But it Started Him on a Path of Authenticity

After Kyle came out to his wife, with whom he has four children, "she listened, she mourned and she loved," he said. Read the article here.

#3. Gay Dads Share Their Coming Out Stories for National Coming Out Day

We asked several gay dads to share their coming out stories in honor of National Coming Out Day, whose stories are heartwarming, instructive, and everything in between. Read the article here.

#4. Gay Muslim Single Dad Writes Op Ed on His Path to Self Acceptance

Maivon Wahid writes about the challenges of reconciling three separate, but equally important, identities in an opinion piece for Gay Star News. Read the article here.

#5. One Gay Dad's Path Towards Realizing Being Gay and Christian are Not Mutually Exclusive

Gay dads Matt and David Clark-Sally talk about coming out, parenting as gay men, and reconciling faith and sexuality. Read the article here.

#6. Republican Utah Lawmaker, and Dad of Two, Comes Out as Gay in Moving Video

Nathan Ivie has many important identities he's proud of: Mormon, Republican, Utahn, father of two... and gay. Read the article here.

#7. How Coming Out Helped This Gay Man Find the Strength to Be a Dad

Steven Kerr shares the moment he came out to his ex-girlfriend. "From that moment on," he writes, "my strength and purpose have grown." Read the article here.

#8. Ed Smart, Father of Kidnapping Victim Elizabeth Smart, Comes Out as Gay

In coming his coming out letter, Ed Smart, a Mormon, condemned the church for their "ridicule, shunning, rejection and outright humiliation" of LGBTQ individuals. Read the article here.

#9. The Best Part of Coming Out, Says This Gay Dad, Is Being an Out and Proud Role Model for His Daughter

"I couldn't face myself in the mirror and think that I could be a good dad and role model for my child when I was lying to myself every moment of every day," said Nate Wormington of his decision to come out. Read the article here.

#10. These Gay Dads Via Previous Marriages Have Adopted a Motto Since Coming Out and Finding Each Other: "United We Stand"

Vincent and Richard both had children in previous marriages with women; together, with their ex-wives, they are helping raise seven beautiful kids. Read the article here.

Change the World

Single Gay Man Adopts Girl Passed Over by 20 Previous Families

Luca Trapanese, a gay dad from Naples, Italy, adopted a baby with Down syndrome who had been rejected twenty times previously

Luca Trapanese, a single 41-year-old gay man from Naples, Italy, had always wanted to become a dad. But in Italy, it was only legal for married heterosexual couples to adopt until 2017. Even then, he was told that he'd only be able to adopt a "hard to place" child, with mental or physical challenges.

"They told me that they would only give me sick children, with severe disabilities, or with behavioral problems," he told the BBC in an interview. "I was absolutely ok with that."

And that's how Alba, a little girl with Down syndrome, came into his life. Abandoned at birth, she had been passed over by 20 separate families before Luca was approached about providing her a home. Luca, who has worked and volunteered with people with disabilities from a young age, readily agreed.

"I'm proud to be her father," Luca said. "Alba was never a second option because she had a disability. I wanted her to be my daughter."

Listen to the entire interview here.

Coming Out

My Gay Shame Is Officially Cancelled

After years of feeling ashamed of being gay, David Blacker has finally overcome it. And his son had a lot to do with it.

Scrolling through my social media feeds, reading all the posts about National Coming Out Day reminds me just how valuable it is for us to share our stories and be as open, vulnerable and authentic as possible. Warning: this article is about to get real AF, so now might be a good time to switch back to the Face-Aging app that gives Russia all your personal data.

Oh good, you stayed. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Keep reading... Show less
Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Growing a Thicker Skin

Experiencing hateful and hurtful comments, Erik Alexander had to learn an important lesson: how to ignore the trolls.

Photo credit: BSA Photography

Twenty years ago when I came out, it was unbearably hard. As I have written before, I am from the Deep South. Anyone who dared to deviate from social norms was sure to be ostracized. It's not that these people were born hateful or mean; rather, it probably had more to do with them not being subjected to other lifestyles. Anything different from their own experiences sparked fear and confusion. Homosexuality, interracial relationships, religious differences – these were all unfamiliar territories to the average person I grew up around. Thus, growing up was particularly difficult.

I remember lying in bed at night when I was a little boy. I would pray and beg God to not let me be gay. Every single night I would end my prayers with "... and God, please don't let me have nightmares and please don't let me be gay." I remember crying myself to sleep many nights. I was embarrassed and ashamed. And I wanted God to cure me.

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Dad Life

8 Ways for Dads to Find Work/Life Balance

Finding work/life balance is hard enough... but can be even harder for gay dads.

Having kids is an amazing part of life, and it should be fun. Life does tend to get in the way sometimes, and one huge aspect of that is work. Striking that balance between work and home life is tough. If you both work it's even harder.

And if you're a gay couple, it can have it's own set of problems above and beyond the standard work-life issues that people face. Recently, the Harvard Business Review conducted a study that focused specifically on the experiences of same-sex couples who wanted to make moves towards a work/life balance.

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Dad Family Stories

These Adoptive Dads Gained an Extended Family Through Foster Care

Adoptive dads Edward and Andrew have maintained a close relationship with their twins' biological family.

Celebrating gay, bi and trans fatherhood is what we do on Gays With Kids. We rejoice in whatever paths our community took to become parents. But many of those journeys come with heartbreak, sometimes for the intended parents, and sometimes for the biological family from whom the adoption or foster placement occurs. With an open adoption, the adoptive and biological families come to an arrangement which best benefits the child, and that's when something truly beautiful can occur. This isn't always possible in every scenario, but when it does, we're exceedingly thankful. Can a child ever have too many family members loving them? Not likely. This was husbands of five years Edward and Andrew Senn's experience.

Keep reading... Show less

Fatherhood, the gay way

Get the latest from Gays With Kids delivered to your inbox!

Follow Gays With Kids

Powered by RebelMouse