Despite the fact that an estimated 2 million kids live in families with gay or transgender parents, many are ineligible for a host of government programs designed to protect children’s health and well-being.
Thank you DOMA!
Last week, House Republicans passed a proposed federal budget put forth by Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan, R-WI (right) that would cut trillion from social programs over the next devade (that’s trillions). Obviously that would have a serious impact on lower-income families, but studies show LGBT families would be particularly devastated.
Crosby Burns of the Center for American Progress analyzed the budget—and various studies on LGBT families— and makes some interesting points in a piece on ThinkProgress:
* Many gay and trans families cannot access government programs aimed at improving household economic security because of the government’s narrow definitions of a family when calculating household size and income. “This results in both inequitable treatment under government safety net programs and imposes a higher tax burden on same-sex couples,” explains Burns.
* Because many employers do not offer health benefits to the partners of LGBT employees, gay and transgender families disproportionately rely on public-health programs like SCHIP and Medicaid. But the Ryan budget includes dramatic cuts to both.
* A 2007 California Health Interview Survey found that half of the state’s families headed by gays or transgenders relied on public programs to help put food on the table (as opposed to 41% of hetero clans). But the Ryan budget would cut the funding of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—which aids more than 46 million families—by $133.5 billion over 10 years. “This includes drastic cuts to the National School Lunch Program and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, or WIC,” says Burns.
* The Ryan budget also attacks financial assistance for higher education, slashing Pell grants by $200 billion. Thanks to the federal government’s narrow definitions, spouses of gay head of households aren’t factored in. If the spouse is a working parent, that can actually work in a child’s favor. But if the parent is, say, a stay-at-home dad, the real size of the household and the actual cost of living isn’t taken into consideration.
While these broad-based cuts will affect American families straight and gay alike, it’s clear that discriminatory policies like DOMA aren’t just immoral. There’s a very real cost involved—one that can be measured in dollars and sense
Photos: U.S. Congress, ABC Television