You are listening to an episode of Ask the Experts on Talk 860 WWDB AM with host Steve O and weekly guest, LGBTQ legal expert Angela Giampolo.
This week’s topics:
• What Pride Month has meant to the LGBTQ community during this difficult year
• The possibility and consequences of marriage equality being reversed
• How everyone can protect their rights within a marriage, including a few powerful forms you may not be familiar with, but you should definitely have
HOW DID YOU SPEND PRIDE MONTH 2022?
Despite the joyful return of in-person celebrations for Pride Month 2022, to an extent these celebrations were dampened by the increasing rollbacks of our rights as an LGBTQ+ community and the overturning of Roe v. Wade. It reminded us all of the fight that our ancestors and those before us had to fight. We have had a lot of hope and a lot of achievements in the last several presidential administrations: to have them all rolled back and to this extent is a scary time. Pride Month allowed us to regroup as a community, band together, and normalize the fear. We all acknowledged that this is and that’s okay. We are resilient and love always wins.
I spent Pride Month by giving talks to several large Fortune 500 companies, more so than in any other year due to the rollbacks, “Don’t Say Gay,” and the numerous anti-trans bills. It is critical to come at Pride Month from an ally perspective, which is why I love doing those talks to large corporations. I spoke to Signify, which is a subsidiary of Philips, as well as Waymo, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Google. Speaking to these nationwide companies brings up a range of issues affecting their employees in multiple states. Here in Pennsylvania, you have one set of issues, but in Texas, it’s a whole other set of issues. If large companies and international companies are going to have an employee resource group geared towards the LGBTQ community, the issues of their employees are all different, given all the different states that they live in. This particular Pride Month was a lot of talking to large corporations which have people in multiple states, which have a lot of LGBTQ employees, as well as allies.
When addressing these large corporations, we focus on the company’s specific employee resource groups and how they are being utilized within the company. I remind the employees an employee resource group is only as impactful and powerful as the employees that make it up. We address their unique issues as LGBTQ+ employees, whether it is paid time off policies, marriage equality, or company-wide and individual engagement with Pride Month. I tailored these talks to each company’s needs: some companies were looking for more personal development conversations while others needed a “state of the union” of LGBTQ+ legal issues. As the laws are changing, company policies should be updated and specific to certain demographics. Other issues don’t necessarily need to go in the company manual, but the company should be aware of them from a policy perspective.
WHY ARE ABORTION RIGHTS GAY RIGHTS?
We are concerned about the implication of the Dobbs decision for marriage equality. Abortion rights are gay rights because the constitutional basis for both cases rest on the same principle. If one could be overturned, then it obviously begs that the other one can be overturned. The right to abortion and the right to get married was founded on the right to privacy. Offshoots of the right to privacy include contraception, abortion, LGBTQ rights, interracial marriages, and Justice Thomas has already named many of these as potential targets. Because the right to privacy is technically not in the constitution and many of the justices are textualists, they say that the right to privacy doesn’t exist. This implies that interracial marriage, contraception, abortion, gay rights are all the same rights because they’re based on the same legal footing.
I don’t see Windsor going away, which dealt specifically with the constitutionality of the Defense Against Marriage Act. But there will definitely be a conversation about Obergefell. I think that everyone who is legally married when that happens will be grandfathered in. But there are a lot of questions about the consequences even for those who would remain legally married. Those that aren’t legally married yet are in an even more dire position.
With marriage comes 1,138 state and federal rights. I never thought I’d agree with Rand Paul on anything, but back in 2014 he told his fellow conservatives that if we wanted marriage to remain a religious institution, we shouldn’t have 1,138 state and federal rights tied to it. Hypothetically we should have negated all of that and have nothing tied to the institution of marriage. At that time there was talk about civil unions for everyone and marriage only for religion. A lot of countries actually do this; Canada only has four rights tied to the institution of marriage.
Therefore, individuals who are legally married when Obergefell is overturned will still lose rights. They will lose every federal protection that comes with marriage. If a couple lives in a state that refuses to continue to recognize marriage equality, they will also lose their rights at the state level. So even though you are legally married, you can’t enjoy the rights and privileges that come with the institution of marriage.
WHAT CAN LGBTQ+ PEOPLE DO TO PROTECT THEMSELVES?
In the immediate wake of Dobbs, focusing on elections is huge, especially the gubernatorial election here in Pennsylvania. We need to write checks and get people elected; I’m a huge proponent of marches and protests, but you can march all you want without effecting change in the legislature. There’s a great nonprofit that I’ve been involved with for years called the Victory Fund, and it identifies, cultivates, and funds LGBTQ folks to run for office. So if ever you don’t know who to open up your checkbook for and you are LGBTQ, Google the Victory Fund, look at their endorsed slate of candidates and write a check. One of the checks I wrote was for a Latina sheriff in a New Mexico town of 1000 people. I wrote her a check, Guadalupe, because it was important that a lesbian be sheriff in a small town in New Mexico where there’s zero LGBTQ representation. This is part of vision of going into these smaller towns, southern cities, and trying to reeducate people.
It’s important that people realize that while we deserve marriage, and we also deserve those 1138 rights and privileges that come with the institution of marriage. The key is estate planning documents. Marriage gives you privileges and these documents give you power. We deserve to have the privileges that come with marriage and the power that come with the estate planning documents. When I started my law firm 15 years ago, one of the main things that I did and still do for the LGBTQ community is estate planning documents. We have been using them to recreate a marriage for years. The main document that people are coming to me for right now that recreates a marriage is the Revocable Living Trust. That document wasn’t created for us, by us. It was created for estate planning purposes to help real estate pass outside of the probate process. But we can use this one document to recreate a marriage to proactively protect yourselves as a couple.
Another key document is the Hospital Visitation Authorization Form. We are only considered legally married in 29 countries out of 197. If you go on vacation to a country where marriage equality doesn’t exist or it is illegal to be gay, and something happens to you, you need a document to tie yourselves to each other in that worst-case scenario. The Hospital Visitation Authorization Form is a travel document for your spouse, for all of the places that you may go where you’re not considered legally married, which is 93% of the world. You also receive a HVA for your chosen family, so people who are not related to you by blood or HIPAA authorization can have access to you in the hospital. I also provide a pet trust. Pets are part of your family: knowing that pets will be cared for financially is huge.
The elimination of our right to privacy in the Dobbs decision exacerbates the need for these estate planning documents, especially the Revocable Living Trust. The LGBTQ+ community is resilient and has always found ways to cope with threats against our existence, and the overturning of Roe is no different. By proactively protecting yourself with estate planning, you can ensure that you will continue to have the rights and privileges you deserve regardless of an uncertain political future.
Speaker 1 (00:05)
Hey, good morning Philadelphia. I hope everybody had a wonderful 4th of July week and they’re never long enough. Anyhow, you’ve got the expert, so we’re with you everyone, Tuesday from ten to eleven with Philadelphia top experts in the fields of legal, health, financial and home improvement. As always, our first show every Tuesday at 10:00 is our I guess she’s in Arizona today.
Speaker 2 (00:38)
Yes, this is the Phoenix location.
Speaker 1 (00:45)
Welcome attorney Angela Giampolo. Good morning.
Speaker 2 (00:50)
Good morning, Steve, how are you?
Speaker 1 (00:51)
It’s a little early there.
Speaker 2 (00:53)
Yeah, I know, I do this for you. I started my meetings at 05:00 a.m. my time, but yeah, every Tuesday I have you at 07:00 a.m. If I’m over here.
Speaker 1 (01:04)
Wow. Well, you know, I know our audience really appreciates you. So last month was Pride Month, how was that?
Speaker 2 (01:15)
It was great. One of our, I guess, biggest Pride in Philadelphia, at least here in Arizona, in Phoenix, Pride is in October because it’s too hot to have it in June or anytime during the summer. But personally I gave a lot of talks to large Fortune 500 companies, more so than in any other year because of all of the rollbacks, Don’t Say Gay and all the anti-trans bills. We had the leak at that point, we had the leak of the opinion of the draft opinion of Roe v. Wade. So we had an idea of the reversal of the Dobbs case, I should say. We had an idea of how that was going to go. So it was to that extent sort of a depressing Pride, more like a Pride where that reminded us all of the fight that our ancestors and those before us had to fight.
Speaker 2 (02:21)
And we kind of thought we were out of that and we’ve had a lot of hope and a lot of achievements in the last several presidential administrations, like under Obama and whatnot. And so to have them all rolled back and to this extent is a scary time. And so to regroup during Pride Month and as a community band together and normalize the fear, be like, yeah, it’s scary and that’s okay. And we’re resilient and love always wins. And also like we talked about last week, I really come at Pride from an ally perspective. Like when I think of Pride Month, I don’t think of hanging out even more or talking to so much the LGBTQ community who I talk to all day, every day, all year.
Speaker 2 (03:21)
So why take Pride Month to just do more of the same? So I take Pride Month and specifically focus towards allies, which is why I love doing those talks to large corporations. I spoke to Signify, which is a subsidiary of Philips who deals with lighting and horticulture. So basically Philips is the umbrella and then Waymo, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Google whose sole purpose is working on an autonomous driving car. So they Google spun that off. So basically speaking to Philips and Google, right, nationwide, and all of their employees, which touch multiple states. So here in Pennsylvania, you have one set of issues, but in Texas, it’s a whole another set of issues. And so large companies and international companies, if they’re going to have employee resource group geared towards the LGBTQ community, the issues of their employees are all different, given all the different states that they live in. So I tried to do a lot of that. This particular Pride Month was a lot of talking to large corporations which have people in multiple states, which have a lot of LGBTQ employees, as well as allies.
Speaker 1 (04:41)
Angela, what do you try to address when you do these speaking engagements for these large corporations?
Speaker 2 (04:49)
So, definitely things that are not state specific, right? Because everybody could be in a different state in the moment. So for the company specifically, we focus on their ERG. What can an ERG do? What are the benefits of employee resource groups? Right in advance of the actual webinar, I get intel on how long has your been around? What kind of events have you held before you found me? Kind of thing. Just to get a sense of are they brand new? Like with Waymo and Signify. These are new companies that spun off from larger companies that are finding their identities as solely owned corporations. And so they’re are only four or five years old, let’s say. How many states are you in? And so I get sort of that intel to be able to tailor what I say to the employees themselves. And then I remind the employees an ERG is only as impactful and powerful as the employees that make it up.
Speaker 2 (06:02)
Like, at the end of the day, the leadership of the ERG is employees. And so it’s made by you for you. So what are your issues? What are you scared about? Covid disproportionately impacted the LGBTQ community in terms of rates of contraction, getting it, and then how sick people got a lot of immuno issues. People that are HIV positive, HIV and AIDS that contracted covid and sort of, okay, what’s your paid time off policy? What are the needs of your particular employee base and how can the ERG serve it? And then we also talk about sort of more macro things, right? What if marriage equality goes away? What does Pride Month mean to you as a company and as to an individual? So that initial meeting with the company really dictates how I tailor the talk.
Speaker 1 (07:09)
With HR at all.
Speaker 2 (07:12)
Yeah, HR is definitely on the call. Yeah, HR is on the call. While we’re figuring out how to tailor the talk, one of the ones I did was much more philosophical. Don’t say gay. It’s okay to be me. It was much more personal development face, if you will. And then the other one was much more tactical. Like they wanted a State of the Union, of all things legal in the country. Boom, boom, boom, slides. So also the type of company and what they want dictates it.
Speaker 1 (07:50)
Yeah, because I would think you have to work with them publishing a new company handbook.
Speaker 2 (07:57)
Yeah, definitely. And these companies are large enough that they definitely have that covered. But as the laws are changing, like I said, with Covid and different pay time off and paid leave, rather, policies should be updated, postcoded, and specific to certain demographics. And then there are things that don’t necessarily need to go in the manual or the policies, but that an urge should just be aware of from a policy perspective, but not necessarily updating the manuals.
Speaker 1 (08:34)
Angela, did I hear you right when you said about marriage equality going away?
Speaker 2 (08:43)
Speaker 1 (08:49)
It’s so hard to get it, though.
Speaker 2 (08:51)
I know that is the implication of the Dobbs decision, the reversal of Roe v. Wade, and how it impacts the LGBTQ community. So I wrote an article that said abortion rights are gay rights, and only because the constitutional basis for both cases rest on the same solid. Well, no longer solid, but the same footing. So if one could be overturned, then it obviously begs that the other one can be overturned. And so I don’t see Windsor going away, which dealt specifically with the constitutionality of DOMA, the Defense Against Marriage Act. And I don’t necessarily envision more DOMAs coming about, but if they do, then we’ll have that fight again, whether or not a state can have a Defense Against Marriage Act, but Obergefell definitely being rolled back. And I think that everyone who is legally married when that happens will be grandfathered in. But there are a lot of questions about what will happen to those that are legally married, and then it goes away. And then for those that necessarily aren’t legally married, wow.
Speaker 1 (10:11)
That would just basically be horrible if that ever happened.
Speaker 2 (10:16)
Yeah. I mean, the analogy or metaphor, I’m not sure which one it is. I always never knew the difference in those. But anyway, I think it’s a metaphor. The metaphor. So let’s just pretend that this is a knife, a steak knife, and with marriage comes 1138 state and federal rights.
Speaker 2 (10:39)
Never thought I’d agree with Rand Paul on anything. And this was his he said this was back in 2014 when all the initial marriage equality stuff, and he was talking to his people, the conservatives, that were like, if we wanted marriage to remain a religious institution, we shouldn’t have 1138 state and federal rights tied to it. We should negate all of that, have nothing tied to the institution of marriage. And I don’t know if you remember, but there was all this talk about civil unions for everyone, and then marriage only for religion.
Speaker 2 (11:15)
And that’s what a lot of countries do. That’s not craziness. Canada has four rights tied to the institution of marriage. I come from a long line of straight people that never got married because there’s no point. You live together for more than a year, apply for some paperwork, and you get civil union, common law type privileges, and they just sort of happen. But anyway, everyone who’s married has this knife.
Speaker 2 (11:43)
And right now, this knife has 1138 state and federal privileges, i.e. Serrated edges. Your steak knife has all those serrated edges. Then Obergefell, gets overturned, is reversed.
Speaker 2 (12:00)
Like row. And so then we lose the federal. So I don’t know how many are state and federal, but just for purposes of the explanation, let’s say you have 400. Now state serrated privileges and rights. So now your steak knife went from 1000 edges to, like, 400 edges. Still a steak knife, though, right? But then you’re in a state like Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina that won’t have marriage equality. So then you have no serrated edges. So overnight you still have the knife. I don’t think that the government will be able to take away your knife, that they won’t be able to take away your marriage. I think we keep our marriage. We keep the knife. But it goes from a steak knife to a butter knife overnight.
Speaker 2 (12:52)
And that’s ultimately, what would the implication of Obergefell being overturned now? There are things that people can do to help protect against that. But for right now, in the wake of all of this, really focusing on elections, the gubernatorial election in Pennsylvania is huge. Getting making sure that Josh Shapiro is elected and writing checks, money, you can march all you want, huge proponent of marching and marches. It inspires people. It gets things out, but it doesn’t actually affect change in the legislature.
Speaker 2 (13:37)
Writing checks, getting people elected. There’s a great nonprofit that I’ve been involved with for years called the Victory Fund, and it identifies, cultivates, and funds LGBTQ folks to run for office. So if ever you don’t know who to open up your checkbook for and your LGBTQ, google the Victory Fund, look at their endorsed slate of candidates and write a check. It doesn’t even matter. One of the checks I wrote was for a Latina sheriff in a New Mexico town of 1000 people. And I wrote her a check, Guadalupe, because it was important that a lesbian be sheriff in a small town in New Mexico where there’s zero LGBTQ representation.
Speaker 1 (14:22)
Wow. That is a wow factor.
Speaker 2 (14:25)
Speaker 1 (14:26)
And this kind of has to do with your vision of going into these smaller towns, southern cities, and try to reeducate people, which is going to be a huge short. But if anybody can do it so, Angela, you said something because we’re talking today about continuing on the road conversation and its impact on the LGBTQ community. What can they do?
Speaker 2 (15:04)
Speaker 2 (15:07)
To go back to the knife with the 1138 serrated edges on it, which equate to the rights and privileges, it’s important that people realize that while we deserve marriage and we deserve those rights and privileges. That 1138 state and federal rights. Then at the end of the day, those are privileges and benefits.
Speaker 2 (15:35)
And I got passionate around this topic years ago, in the late 90s, early 2000s, around the Terry Schiavo case. Both of our states were involved in that. They’re from Pennsylvania. Lower Merion, just outside of Philly. Couple, straight couple married, none of their estate planning documents, okay? And then they moved to Florida. And then ultimately the health issue, the accident happened down in Florida, and Terry Schiavo ended up being on life support for twelve years down in Florida. But here was a straight couple, married, none of their estate planning documents. So ultimately, the husband had no more power over Terry’s body and what to do with Terry than her mother did.
Speaker 2 (16:23)
And that is what’s key, is that estate planning documents give you power and marriage gives you privileges. We deserve all of it. We deserve to have the privileges that come with marriage and the power that come with the estate planning documents. But 15 years ago, when I started my law firm, one of the main things that I did and still do for the LGBTQ community is estate planning documents because we have been using them to recreate a marriage for years. The main document that people are coming to me for right now that recreates a document I’m sorry, that recreates a marriage is the Revocable Living Trust, okay? That document, it wasn’t created for us, by us. It was created for estate planning purposes, mainly real estate, to help real estate pass outside of the probate process. And that’s the other thing I keep telling my clients, like, you’re coming to me from a fear based place and out of negativity, out of this political climate that we’re in. So everybody’s coming to me with their eyebrows furrowed, like, oh, we need to protect ourselves, right? And my goal at the end of every first meeting is by their eyebrows to be like this, right?
Speaker 2 (17:41)
Eyebrows up, happy, positive. Because, yes, fear brought you to me. I just got off with a lesbian couple, doctor, project manager, well off, nice home, trying to conceive, could be pregnant in three weeks. They should have these things in place. They probably wouldn’t, but for this decision, they probably wouldn’t have come to me for another seven to ten years because the babies would have been born, then they would have been exhausted from that. They’re going to have two kids, so two years would go by, they’ve been exhausted from that child, then they would have had a second child, then two more years. And then by about five years from now, when the kids are both like two and four, then they would start sleeping five years from now and start getting back to being human. And then they would think, oh my God, we have five year olds. We should probably have a will in case we die.
Speaker 2 (18:38)
But now they’re coming to me now. And by the end of this first call today, they’re super excited, like, oh, we’re going to have a Revocable Living Trust. We’re going to be able to put our property into it, this and the other. So all to say that what can people do? Estate planning. Why estate planning? Because the estate planning documents give you power that your marriage does not. And the Revocable Living Trust is one document. You’ll each get eight documents per person. And the Revocable Living Trust recreates the marriage.
Speaker 1 (19:14)
What’s important about the show is there’s so much education. I’m sure you have gay couples that come into your office that are shocked by what they can and cannot do, and they never, ever took time to visit with someone like yourself that’s got so much knowledge. And when they walk out of your office, they’ve got to feel so much better.
Speaker 2 (19:45)
Yeah. The main one that when people don’t realize what they can and cannot do is the Hospital Visitation Authorization Form. We are only considered legally married in 29 countries out of 197 that fly a flag, right? So if that lesbian couple I just met with, they go on vacation, they go to China, and they’re on the Great Wall of China, and one slips and falls, they’re not considered legally married. Right. They go on safari in Tanzania, and one gets nipped by a lion. It’s illegal to be gay there. You don’t want to yell, but that’s my wife.
Speaker 2 (20:26)
So the Hospital Visitation Authorization Form is a travel document that I shrink down, laminate, and they hold onto one another. So they get this laminated, tangible thing. It’s a contract. It’s a one page contract. Has nothing to do with our marriage. And then I have an HVA, too, where we put our family, as I call it, friends that are like family. So on the HVA two, their framily goes on the HVA two. And the record is 36 people of friends that are close like family. But if you’re four people walk me down the aisle, only two were HIPAA related, the other two were not, right? So my family of the other two that are not my brother and my father need to go onto their own HVA because they’re not legally related to me. They’re not my brothers.
Speaker 2 (21:15)
They’re just family. So here is this document that you have, the one that’s for your spouse, for all of the places that you may go where you’re not considered legally married, which is 93% of the world.
Speaker 2 (21:30)
And then there’s the HVA2 for your family that we create with an LGBTQ community, our own family, and they get put on a list. So those laminated documents, people are always shocked. They’re like, oh, my God, you’re right. We went to Turkey last Christmas, and we went to beautiful places. Again, a lot of countries in the world, only 29 recognized marriage equality. Chances are when you travel, you’re going to go somewhere where you’re not considered legally married. Straight people don’t have that problem. And then pets, right. I have this whole pet trust that I created for one of my clients last week where the pet trustee will have a lifestyle and live in the home until the last animal dies, but she gets to stay in the $700,000 home, $75,000 a year in salary, $250,000 corpus. And the pet trust, right? There’s no joke. So being able to do that when you don’t have kids these are our kids. He’s a monster, this little chihuahua. So being able to care for them both financially and know that no matter what happens to me, they’re taken care of is huge. So those are to your point about people coming into my office and leaving with information that they never thought about.
Speaker 2 (23:01)
It happens all the time, let alone after this decision, the reversal.
Speaker 1 (23:07)
Angel, we’ve only got a couple of minutes, and this might take longer, so we’ll get back with it next week. But why are legal pundits saying that abortion rights are gay rights? I don’t understand that.
Speaker 2 (23:22)
Yeah, a lot of people don’t on both sides. Like, there are some LGBTQ folks that are like, what do you mean? And then anti all the things. It’s because the right to abortion and the right to get married was founded on the right to privacy about what happens. So I have privacy and should have autonomy over my own body, and then I have privacy over what goes on in my bedroom or in my home and who I marry.
Speaker 2 (23:56)
So they’re all offshoots of the right to privacy, like the right to contraception, which Clarence Thomas said he wants to address next, is LGBTQ rights and contraception. Contraception, abortion, LGBTQ rights, who you’re allowed to marry, Loving v. Virginia, black, white, interracial marriages, all of that is based on an inherent right to privacy, which is technically not let me hurry up. Which is technically not written in the constitution, okay? There is no right of privacy written in words in the constitution. You won’t find it if you go through the whole book. And the Supreme Court justices are textualist, which means they go by what’s in the text of something, and if it’s not written in the text, it doesn’t exist. They read the text, there’s no right to privacy, so they’re saying it doesn’t exist. So we could say interracial marriage, contraception, abortion, gay rights, they’re all the same rights because they’re based on the same legal footing.
Speaker 1 (24:56)
Right. This show goes by so fast, and you are just a world of knowledge. We love you. You are the best of the best. Angela Giampolo, give everybody your phone number.
Speaker 2 (25:14)
Sure. 215-6452 415. And you can find me online at lawyer LGBT.
Speaker 1 (25:21)
And Angela will be back with us again next Tuesday at 10:00. Enjoy Arizona.
Speaker 2 (25:27)
I’ll be back in Philly next week. I’ll see you soon.
Speaker 1 (25:29)
I’m letting you 120 there.
Speaker 2 (25:31)
Speaker 1 (25:32)
We’ll see you next week. Be sure to tune in every Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. when Angela Giampolo is the guest on Ask the Experts on 860 WWDB A M and [email protected]