State LGBT laws.

(BLS, URM status, non-traditional, GLBT)
llachans
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State LGBT laws.

Postby llachans » Sat Mar 10, 2012 3:12 pm

For the LGBT community out there:

I applied to MSU because they were so freaking persistent. I wasn't really interested but ended up attending the ASW. To my surprise, I fell in love with the clinical programs that the school offers. The admissions folk were very realistic concerning the job market but, on a 75% scholarship, MSU looks like a really good option.

However, I'm not sure if I can cope with MI state laws regarding the LGBT community. They have a constitutional ban against same sex marriage, they are 1 of 4 states that have made adoption by a same sex couple illegal, and they also don't offer government benefits to partners of LGBT individuals. This is problematic because I am currently with the partner I plan to marry (most likely during or towards the end of law school), plan on starting a family, and will be a government worker.

So my question is, how much do you factor in state laws? Obviously my partner and future family are a larger priority than school. However, the uncertainty of when these laws will eventually be overturned via a Supreme Court decision are also important. It would suck to give up the school of my choice and in two years down the road for the decision to be reversed.

Obviously, MSU leads to regional employment so state laws will affect me. My other options are in Iowa (U Iowa and Drake). Any advice?

I'm feeling really stressed and frustrated by old white men making laws.

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vissidarte27
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Re: State LGBT laws.

Postby vissidarte27 » Mon Mar 12, 2012 2:01 am

I have things to say, but I can't quite figure out how to phrase them.

1. Yes, it matters. My partner and I were kicked out of our last apartment when the landlady found out we were together. That sucked. And it's totally supported by Virginia state law.
2. But I'll be attending law school in Georgia, an even redder state, because I want to help change the laws.

It sounds to me like Iowa would be a better option for you, especially if you're looking to start a family fairly soon after law school. Neither my partner nor I want kids, so living in a state with crappy LGBT stuff is less of an issue for us. We can't get married even though we'd like to, but that's not the end of the world. It doesn't make us love each other any less and we can still live a "married" life (minus the tax benefits and whatnot). But I think the desire for a family changes things a lot and may make the difference in your case.

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moonman157
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Re: State LGBT laws.

Postby moonman157 » Mon Mar 12, 2012 2:06 am

Doesn't it suck that this has to be a factor in your decision? I hope that everything works out for you, and that by the time you're ready for kids, whatever state you're in has legalized marriage and will allow you to be a legal parent.

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twenty
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Re: State LGBT laws.

Postby twenty » Mon Mar 12, 2012 2:24 am

1. Yes, it matters. My partner and I were kicked out of our last apartment when the landlady found out we were together. That sucked. And it's totally supported by Virginia state law.


You're not Section 8/alternate FHA rental assistance by any chance, are you? If you are, and it was in the last 30 days or so, the landlady could actually be in pretty big trouble.

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Tom Joad
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Re: State LGBT laws.

Postby Tom Joad » Mon Mar 12, 2012 2:26 am

I am usually on the insensitive side of LGBT issues, but I feel bad for you, OP.

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vissidarte27
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Re: State LGBT laws.

Postby vissidarte27 » Mon Mar 12, 2012 7:51 am

twentypercentmore wrote:
1. Yes, it matters. My partner and I were kicked out of our last apartment when the landlady found out we were together. That sucked. And it's totally supported by Virginia state law.


You're not Section 8/alternate FHA rental assistance by any chance, are you? If you are, and it was in the last 30 days or so, the landlady could actually be in pretty big trouble.


It was May of last year, and not section 8, as far as I know. We looked into the legality of it at the time and there didn't seem to be anything we could do.

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travman90
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Re: State LGBT laws.

Postby travman90 » Mon Mar 12, 2012 9:17 am

Very scary all the stuff out there that can cause problems for LGBT members. I know its not directly factoring into where I'm accepting because I (without realizing it) only applied to places that are fairly liberal with their LGBT laws (with maybe the exception of Vanderbilt, but I've heard its not so bad there). I'm lucky in that my partner and I aren't really ready for marriage nor kids until probably a couple years after I finish law school (though it would be nice if we could get married so he could be a citizen *sigh*).
Anyways, so yeah I don't know how it should factor in, but I can definately see the need to factor it in. It certainly would be nice to be in a state where I can marry my partner if his work visa expires so he can stay in the USA, so I've begun thinking about it myself.

kl10qm
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Re: State LGBT laws.

Postby kl10qm » Mon Mar 12, 2012 12:16 pm

My husband and I were faced with this situation (going to school in a state which was unfriendly vs. a friendly state), and it was a difficult decision to make. On one hand, I was admitted to my home state instutition (Vandy), but on the other hand living in the South was extremely unappealing given the climate down here (to those who might say that Nashville is LGBT friendly, I just want to say, live down here then say that). So I did look to other places (including Iowa, California, Connecticut, New York etc.) that were more LGBT friendly, because the way that I looked at it, I didn't want to be under the constant pressure of feeling like a second class citizen when I am going through three years of hell in law school.

But, because my husband is not a U.S. citizen (Canadian), we were also faced with the additional burden of having to potentially live apart or violate immigration laws (not a fun, nor ethical situation to be in), so I applied to a few of the schools along the U.S./Canadian border (so we can live in Canada), and was thankfully accepted at my top choice. That being the case, though I am more than pleased with the school, I am not pleased in the least that I will be going to a school that is in a state, which, as OP says is not too fond of its LGBT citizens.

But, given that situation - and my former hesitancy to move to a state like Michigan (which, to me is the Tennessee of the North) - I have put it in perspective. Yes, the atmosphere for LGBT people is terrible, yet when we live in states where the battles are to be fought, we have the ability to actually impact change. So though laws are important in determining where you might end up, one must also look at how you might impact change where you are.

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vissidarte27
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Re: State LGBT laws.

Postby vissidarte27 » Mon Mar 12, 2012 1:26 pm

kl10qm wrote:
But, given that situation - and my former hesitancy to move to a state like Michigan (which, to me is the Tennessee of the North) - I have put it in perspective. Yes, the atmosphere for LGBT people is terrible, yet when we live in states where the battles are to be fought, we have the ability to actually impact change. So though laws are important in determining where you might end up, one must also look at how you might impact change where you are.


This is what I wanted to say but couldn't. Thanks.

splbagel
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Re: State LGBT laws.

Postby splbagel » Mon Mar 12, 2012 4:19 pm

At the end of the day, you have to be the one to weigh this decision -- I don't think there's really a "right" answer here.

Two thoughts I had, though:

1. Yes, Michigan's laws are a disaster, but that doesn't reflect on the entirety of the population or on the culture at MSU or East Lansing in particular. Take a look at electoral maps by county or congressional district - most of the state geographically is red, but the population center in southeast Michigan is solid blue. The over-representation of rural, conservative areas in the state legislature is what allows for most of these shenanigans. I imagine that you'll find that MSU is a fairly gay-friendly place overall. In fact, the public university system is strenuously objecting to this "no benefits for partners" business, and is actively looking for ways around it so that they can continue offering equal benefits for their employees and students. At least visit and see what the environment feels like.

2. If you do end up deciding against MSU and weighing this in your decision, you should let the admissions staff know (and copy deans and state reps on your email explaining why!). Schools can't singlehandedly change these ridiculous policies, but administrators and lawmakers need to hear that they're losing good people when they discriminate. I just withdrew from Georgetown and explained why their birth control policy was part of my decision - same principle here.

Good luck!

kaiser
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Re: State LGBT laws.

Postby kaiser » Mon Mar 12, 2012 4:24 pm

I'm also on the indifferent side when it comes to LGBT issues, but it certainly is a shame that these things even have to factor into the decision.

AriGoldButNicer
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Re: State LGBT laws.

Postby AriGoldButNicer » Mon Mar 12, 2012 4:31 pm

I think these are unjust laws, and would support your breaking them. However, if you're looking to be logical, I would not attend a non top-14 in a state where I'm considered less of a citizen, because I'd be stuck there.

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JoeMo
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Re: State LGBT laws.

Postby JoeMo » Mon Mar 12, 2012 4:38 pm

kl10qm wrote:But, given that situation - and my former hesitancy to move to a state like Michigan (which, to me is the Tennessee of the North) - I have put it in perspective. Yes, the atmosphere for LGBT people is terrible, yet when we live in states where the battles are to be fought, we have the ability to actually impact change. So though laws are important in determining where you might end up, one must also look at how you might impact change where you are.


This is very credited.

Although I will also be at Michigan with my husband, neither one of us is really looking forward to the less than liberal mentality of the state. However, I don't plan on staying in Michigan post-graduation so it wasn't "that much" of a factor for me in making my decision.

However, is it possible for you to return to your home market with a degree from MSU? Just a thought.

iowalum
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Re: State LGBT laws.

Postby iowalum » Mon Mar 12, 2012 4:39 pm

I have to say that having lived in Iowa City my whole life it is incredibly LGBT-friendly. Not only will you have more rights in Iowa, but the University and the community are very accepting and provide many outlets for involvement and activism. There are some great gay bars, student orgs and community orgs, and a pride parade (or if you don't want to be open about it people are accepting of that as well). Of course, not all of Iowa is like this, but I guarantee that your experience while in school would be positive as far as the attitude towards your sexual orientation.

Iowa also happens to have a great law school but the market is fairly limited. Overall, (I know I'm biased) but I would look into Iowa and at least consider a visit.

splbagel
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Re: State LGBT laws.

Postby splbagel » Mon Mar 12, 2012 4:41 pm

JoeMo wrote:Although I will also be at Michigan with my husband, neither one of us is really looking forward to the less than liberal mentality of the state. However, I don't plan on staying in Michigan post-graduation so it wasn't "that much" of a factor for me in making my decision.


Keep in mind that Ann Arbor is almost totally divorced from the mentality / culture of the rest of the state. It's an extremely gay-friendly city -- think Austin, Boulder, Berkeley.

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JoeMo
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Re: State LGBT laws.

Postby JoeMo » Mon Mar 12, 2012 4:42 pm

Also, one thing to keep in mind is that areas around college campuses (especially large college campuses) tend to be pretty liberal. You might want to reach out to the LGBT group at MSU Law and see if you can talk to a current student or two so they can speak to how much this impacts your experience while you're there.

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JoeMo
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Re: State LGBT laws.

Postby JoeMo » Mon Mar 12, 2012 4:44 pm

splbagel wrote:
JoeMo wrote:Although I will also be at Michigan with my husband, neither one of us is really looking forward to the less than liberal mentality of the state. However, I don't plan on staying in Michigan post-graduation so it wasn't "that much" of a factor for me in making my decision.


Keep in mind that Ann Arbor is almost totally divorced from the mentality / culture of the rest of the state. It's an extremely gay-friendly city -- think Austin, Boulder, Berkeley.


Ha... I got scooped. I was just writing something similar. But yeah, I mean one way or another we'll have to go outside of Ann Arbor even if just to see the rest of the state and I'm sure we'll face some of the conservatism head on. Although I am grateful that we won't have to live directly surrounded by it.

llachans
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Re: State LGBT laws.

Postby llachans » Mon Mar 12, 2012 5:34 pm

Wow! Thanks for all of the support guys! And I'm sorry for those who are in the same position.

moonman157 wrote:Doesn't it suck that this has to be a factor in your decision? I hope that everything works out for you, and that by the time you're ready for kids, whatever state you're in has legalized marriage and will allow you to be a legal parent.

kaiser wrote:I'm also on the indifferent side when it comes to LGBT issues, but it certainly is a shame that these things even have to factor into the decision.

Tom Joad wrote:I am usually on the insensitive side of LGBT issues, but I feel bad for you, OP.


Thank you for your kind words and for not turning it into a political debate. It is unfortunate that it is influencing my law school choices. It's actually a huge realization that I'm just now dealing with. The past 4 years I have been confined to Iowa City - - Land of the Homos :lol:


vissidarte27 wrote:I have things to say, but I can't quite figure out how to phrase them.

1. Yes, it matters. My partner and I were kicked out of our last apartment when the landlady found out we were together. That sucked. And it's totally supported by Virginia state law.
2. But I'll be attending law school in Georgia, an even redder state, because I want to help change the laws.

It sounds to me like Iowa would be a better option for you, especially if you're looking to start a family fairly soon after law school. Neither my partner nor I want kids, so living in a state with crappy LGBT stuff is less of an issue for us. We can't get married even though we'd like to, but that's not the end of the world. It doesn't make us love each other any less and we can still live a "married" life (minus the tax benefits and whatnot). But I think the desire for a family changes things a lot and may make the difference in your case.


I'm so sorry you had to experience that. I would have been infuriated, but I am very glad that you are using your education to cause change. My dream for awhile has been to work in criminal law. I did a lot of work with the LGBT community the past 4 years, but really want to follow my own dream now. Although I'm sure I will continue to do some LGBT volunteering, I don't believe I want to devote my life to it. That's not to say that change is not important, because it is absolutely imperative. I would just rather work in criminal law for the time being. I find trying to change LGBT laws rewarding (since I have seen substantial progress in Iowa, where I volunteered), but also incredibly draining.

iowalum wrote:I have to say that having lived in Iowa City my whole life it is incredibly LGBT-friendly. Not only will you have more rights in Iowa, but the University and the community are very accepting and provide many outlets for involvement and activism. There are some great gay bars, student orgs and community orgs, and a pride parade (or if you don't want to be open about it people are accepting of that as well). Of course, not all of Iowa is like this, but I guarantee that your experience while in school would be positive as far as the attitude towards your sexual orientation.

Iowa also happens to have a great law school but the market is fairly limited. Overall, (I know I'm biased) but I would look into Iowa and at least consider a visit.


I attended UI and had a very similar experience to you. The "urban" (if you can even call it that) areas of Iowa are very friendly and progressive. I would not hesitate to return to Iowa.

JoeMo wrote:Also, one thing to keep in mind is that areas around college campuses (especially large college campuses) tend to be pretty liberal. You might want to reach out to the LGBT group at MSU Law and see if you can talk to a current student or two so they can speak to how much this impacts your experience while you're there.


I'm not really concerned about the climate/culture regarding the LGBT community. My girlfriend and I both have great support in family and friends. My main concern is Michigan's restrictive laws. I really look forward to starting a family with the woman I love and I would be devastated if I was unable to do so. Or God forbid that I die and she is not entitled to certain rights because she is not legally my wife.

slsplease
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Re: State LGBT laws.

Postby slsplease » Sun Apr 22, 2012 10:42 am

The real question is.. why the hell would you want to work in Michigan after you graduate??

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presh
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Re: State LGBT laws.

Postby presh » Sun Apr 22, 2012 11:09 am

.
Last edited by presh on Sun Dec 27, 2015 11:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

llachans
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Re: State LGBT laws.

Postby llachans » Sun Apr 22, 2012 11:14 am

presh wrote:
I just wanted to come offer my support. It really sucks that this has to be part of your thought process.

In your position, I probably would skip MSU due to the adoption/marriage laws. It's probably going to be difficult to get somewhere else with that degree, and being stuck in a state that doesn't recognize your relationship could have serious consequences down the road. Plus, most of the surrounding states (your secondary employment market) aren't very friendly either - WI, OH, IN.


Thanks for the support! I've decided on going to school in Iowa. Ultimately, the financial aspect ended up making the most sense. I'm glad it didn't boil down to financial sense v. LGBT laws, because I'm not sure what I would have chosen.

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sd5289
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Re: State LGBT laws.

Postby sd5289 » Tue Apr 24, 2012 10:08 am

kaiser wrote:I'm also on the indifferent side when it comes to LGBT issues, but it certainly is a shame that these things even have to factor into the decision.


Lulz. Not calling you out in particular, but this is the second time I've read this in this thread. If the two of you are indifferent (I believe the other word I read was "insensitive"), what are you doing reading a thread like this anyway?

To the OP, one thing to consider is how the state's laws will affect your ability to provide health insurance to your partner or vice versa. I'm from New York and have covered my partner on my health insurance for the past 4 yrs. When she went to school in MA, she was able to save the cost of purchasing crappy school insurance because the state recognizes our partnership (both do). I can see that you're looking down the road at the long-term implications, but you might want to consider the short term as well. Things happen in law school. My partner has utilized my insurance just recently for an issue that the school's insurance wouldn't have covered.

*edit: Oh, I see you chose Iowa. I think you'll be much happier there, but I'll leave up what I wrote for anyone else who may be in a similar situation.

ShastaNikki
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Re: State LGBT laws.

Postby ShastaNikki » Tue May 08, 2012 9:33 am

Kind of late with the comments, but, OP, I think you'll be happier in Iowa than you would be in Michigan. One of my good friends will be a 2L @ Iowa, and, though she's a state away now and we didn't get to talk a lot during her busy 1L year, she seems really happy. She was a big LGBTQ activist during our UG and got married to her partner last August! (Not to mention I've heard terrible things about East Lansing as far as "prettiness" of the area goes.)

I was having similar feelings about U. of Az vs. Lewis & Clark in Portland. Less so as LGBTQ and more so as a woman. I'm pretty excited about always being pregnant unless on my period as soon as I move there, and now that PlannedParenthood funding is banned...

As a few others have mentioned, I really had to weigh the "do I want to be comfortable and surrounded by like-minded people?" with the "do I want to be engaged, challenged, and urged to make changes in public policy?" I ultimately chose Arizona because my partner and I wouldn't need to commute to different towns to attend school, but as I will have/want to stay in the state the extra three years past J.D. as he finishes his Ph.D., it was a big choice for us.

I'm both excited and terrified for future legislation.




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