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The Federal Budget and Gay and Transgender Families

The Federal Budget and Gay and Transgender Families

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Crosby Burns argues that America needs a federal budget the supports all families, including gay and transgender families.
Crosby Burns argues that America needs a federal budget the supports all families, including gay and transgender families.

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Published by: Center for American Progress on Apr 11, 2012
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1Center for American Progress |  The Federal Budget and Gay and Transgender Families
 The Federal Budget and Gayand Transgender Families
Not All Families Are Equal Under the Law
Crosby Burns April 2012
Srenghening he economic securiy o American amilies remains a key policy prior-iy or decreasing povery, reducing inequaliy, and growing our economy hrough asusained and suppored middle class. No all amilies, however, are equal under he law.Unorunaely, many governmen-sponsored programs rea gay 
1
and ransgenderamilies dierenly han heir sraigh and nonransgender counerpars. Due o narrow deniions o who consiues a “amily,” many o he more han2 million childrenliving wih gay and ransgender amilies do no have he same access o he economic sae-guards aorded o oher children in he Unied Saes oday.Moreover, his discriminaion in governmen programs exacerbaes he economicinsecuriies creaed by he high raes o discriminaion acing he gay and ransgenderpopulaion. Discriminaion inhealh care ,housing , and he workplaceleaves ar oo many gay and ransgender amilies wihou healh insurance, aordable housing, and a job o make ends mee. Wih inequiable access o saey ne programs and wih persisen and pervasive dis-criminaion, i is no wonder ha gay and ransgender amilies have a lower householdincome , are more likely o nd hemselves in povery, and are more likely o be unin-sured han heir sraigh and nonransgender counerpars.No child should go hungry, uninsured, or homeless in he Unied Saes, regardlesso he sexual orienaion or gender ideniy o heir paren. Sill, gay and ransgenderamilies are among some o he mos economically vulnerable in he Unied Saes.Tese American amilies need more economic suppor rom social saey ne programsand governmen ax breaks, no less. Tis is why he annual budge-making process is socrucial o he healh, wellness, and economic livelihood o gay and ransgender amilies.
 
2Center for American Progress |  The Federal Budget and Gay and Transgender Families
 Jus las week, hough, House Republicans passed House Budge Commitee ChairmanPaulRyan’s (R-WI) proposed budge , which would shred he saey ne o aters. Rep.Ryan’s budge calls or an asounding$5.3 rillion in spending cusover he nex 10 years, 62 percen o which come romlow-income programs. Meanwhile, his same budge would give an addiional$265,000 in ax cus o he wealhy on op o he Bushax cus, as well as mainain and even expand ax breaks or corporaions, he ulra-rich,and oil companies. In aggregae, hese ax expendiures or he op 1 percen willcos Americans an asounding $10 rillionover he nex decade.Pu blunly, he Ryan budge is a disaser or gay and ransgender amilies. Tese amiliesneed a budge ha helps hem mee heir nancial needs, no a budge ha worsens analready precarious siuaion. Going orward, lawmakers should use heir power o hepurse o make sure ha no amily alls hrough he cracks during hard economic imes,including gay and ransgender amilies.Tis issue brie examines hree areas o he budge ha are crucial o household eco-nomic securiy—public healh insurance or low-income amilies, ood and nuriionassisance, and nancial aid or higher educaion. In each o hese areas, lawmakers caneiher mainain and srenghen he saey ne or slash and burn he programs ha gaand ransgender amilies rely upon o say aoa and hrive.Beore we examine hese hree issue areas, le us rs ake a closer look a he sae o gay and ransgender amilies in he Unied Saes oday.
 The state of gay and transgender families
 According o he oundaional repor—“All Children Mater: How Legal and SocialInequaliies Hur LGB Families—somewhere beween 2 million and 2.8 million chil-dren oday are living wih gay or ransgender parens in 96 percen o all U.S. counies.Same-sex couples in he Souh are more likely o be raising children han hose in oherregions o he counry. Tese amilies are also more racially and ehnically diverse hanmarried opposie-sex couples raising children, according o he repor.Research and daa rom his repor show ha gay and ransgender amilies are amongsome o he mos economically vulnerable in he Unied Saes. Why are hese amiliesespecially vulnerable?Firs, many o he economic programs aimed a bolsering household economic secu-riy rea amilies ha are headed by gay or ransgender parens dierenly han amiliesheaded by sraigh and nonransgender parens. While some governmen programs areully inclusive o gay and ransgender amilies (accidenally, no by design), ohers usea narrow deniion o he amily ha discouns he exisence o same-sex parners andchildren, essenially masking he rue economic realiies o hese amilies when calcula-
 
3Center for American Progress |  The Federal Budget and Gay and Transgender Families
ing household size and income. Tis resuls in boh inequiable reamen under govern-men saey ne programs and imposes a higher ax burden on same-sex couples.In shor, discriminaory reamen under he law creaes a wo-iered sysem o socialsaey ne programs—one or children wih sraigh and nonransgender parens andanoher or children wih gay or ransgender parens.Moreover, gay and ransgender people coninue o experience widespread discrimina-ion in nearly all areas o lie. Recen research shows ha his populaion coninues oexperience high raes o discriminaion inhousing , in he workplace , inhealh care , and in areas o public accommodaion. Pervasive sigma and discriminaion harms he socio-economic saus o hese amilies by denying hem equal access o healh care, denyingparens a seady income, and denying amilies aordable housing when hey wouldoherwise qualiy or i. Wha resuls aresocioeconomic inequaliies ha hur childrenwih parens who are gay or ransgender. Conrary o common sereoypes, children raised by same-sex couplesare wice as likely o live in povery as children being raised by married heerosexualparens. Similarly, amilies headed by opposie-sex couples make on average $15,000per year more han amilies headed by same-sex couples. Tese economic dispariies areespecially acue or gay and ransgender people o color raising children.In ligh o hese realiies, now is no he ime o diminish access o economic saeguardsand suppors like saey ne programs and amily ax breaks. We mus equalize andexpand hem, no urher limi hem or gay and ransgender amilies.Nex we examine how he Ryan budge reas gay and ransgender amilies and oer our vision o a budge ha values all amilies equally.
Medicaid and SCHIP
Medicaid and he Sae Children’s Healh Insurance Program, or SCHIP, are wo o hemos imporan economic lielines providing essenial healh care and long-erm careo millions o Americans. Low-income children, pregnan women, seniors, and people wih disabiliies are all eligible or Medicaid, which, since is creaion in he 1960s, has been crucial o keeping amilies and heir children insured and ou o povery. Jus asimporan is SCHIP, which was creaed in 1997 and grealy expanded he number o children eligible or public healh insurance.Under curren law, children under 6 years o age areeligible or Medicaidi hey livein amilies wih household incomes a or below 133 percen o he ederal povery guidelines. Children 6 o 18 years old qualiy wih household incomes a or below 100

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