Dear Yetta: “Will Donald Trump’s Presidency Affect My Family?”

“I live in NYC with my wife of three years and two children. We are all concerned about the impact Trump’s election could have on our family. Is there anything we should do to protect our marriage?”

Dear Yetta,

I live in NYC with my wife of three years and two children. We are all concerned about the impact Trump’s election could have on our family. Is there anything we should do to protect our marriage?

—Frightened Family

Dear Family,

Unfortunately, over the past month, I’ve heard from dozens of families, who, like so many of us in the LGBTQ community, are feeling unsettled in the wake of the recent presidential election. While we still do not know the full extent of this administration’s attacks on civil rights, I can offer some words of hope for LGBTQ New Yorkers who are concerned about the state of equal marriage.

First, you should know the limits of executive action which is the power the president has. As you’ve probably gleaned from recent news, President Trump has already signed several concerning Executive Orders. Executive Orders only apply to the federal government, so the president cannot act unilaterally to revoke existing state and local protections.

The good news is that New York has many state and local protections. While we do not anticipate that Obergefell will be overturned, New Yorkers can take solace in the state having passed its own Marriage Equality Act in 2011. New York also passed the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act in 2003, which prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, credit, education and public accommodations be-cause of actual or perceived sexual orientation. The New York Dignity for All Students Act prohibits discrimination, intimidation, harassment and bullying (including cyberbullying) in public schools and at school functions. And The New York State Division of Human Rights protects against discrimination at a state level.

These protections are safeguarded on a local level by the New York City Commission on Human Rights, which is Chaired by Commissioner Carmelyn Malalis.

While we have plenty more work to do, and, of course, our community is impacted not just by LGBTQ policies, but policies that impact gender, race, immigration status, etc., these are a few of the state and local protections LGBTQ New Yorkers have in place. If you or your family experience any form of discrimination, we urge you to reach out to a lawyer to find out how to protect yourself.

To learn more information on existing legal protections for LGBT people and our families, visit the National Center for Lesbian Rights’ web-site: nclrights.org

Email questions to kurland@kurlandassociates.com or call 212-253-6911.

This column is not a consultation with an attorney and should in no way be construed as such or as a substitute for such consultation. Anyone with legal issues or concerns should seek the advice of their own attorney.