U.S./World: Queer tax guide, White House liaison, agreement declination, military leader, biz initiative

Beyond the Carolinas

Guide answers queries on queer taxes

lgbtqtaxguideThe National LGBTQ Task Force has launched a groundbreaking income tax preparation guide for LGBTQ people. The new taxpayer resource is intended to guide LGBTQ people with questions they might want to ask when sitting in front of their tax preparer or program. The first-of-its-kind guide translates complicated income tax form information in a way that is more understandable and accessible for LGBTQ people.

“LGBTQ people are disproportionally more likely to live at or below the poverty line — they are also often the most in need of income tax information and least able to access it. The straightforward information in this guide will empower LGBTQ people to get credits and deductions that lift millions of people out of poverty,” said Meghan Maury, criminal and economic justice director for the National LGBTQ Task Force. “Most LGBTQ people don’t know that you can deduct out-of-pocket costs for transition-related care, including surgery. Many of us also don’t know that you may be able to claim a large credit for adoption-related expenses.”

The new publication is part of the organization’s “Queer Our Taxes” effort, a public education and advocacy campaign focused on securing economic justice for LGBTQ people. To learn more about Queer our Taxes, and to download the new taxpayer guide, visit queerourtaxes.org.

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LGBT cultural competency in healthcare

The District of Columbia (DC) is set to become the first jurisdiction in the nation to require continuing education for health care providers in LGBT cultural and clinical competency.

On Feb. 2, the DC City Council unanimously approved a law mandating two credit hours per cycle in LGBT cultural competency for all healthcare providers who are required to receive continuing education to renew their license. The LGBTQ Cultural Competency Continuing Education Amendment Act of 2015 is expected to be signed into law by DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, who has previously expressed support.

Transgender White House liaison congratulated

The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) has congratulated Jaan Williams on his appointment to the position of White House liaison at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS). In this role, Williams will recruit, support and develop appointees for USDHHS in partnership with the White House Office of Presidential Personnel.

NCTE commended USDHHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell for appointing Williams to this position as the first out transgender person to serve as a White House liaison for any government agency.

Cohabitation agreements decline following same-sex marriage ruling

Co-habitating couples are splitting up with the help of lawyers in a growing number of relationships. According to 45 percent of participants in a recent survey of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), legal disputes between unmarried couples who had previously lived together have been on the rise during the past three years. A significant number of the attorneys — 70 percent — also noted a decrease in cohabitation agreements being drawn up between same-sex partners since same-sex marriage has been legalized.

“Even without an engagement ring or marriage license, a live-in relationship can often produce a number of legal complexities and tangled disputes that could require the involvement of legal counsel,” said AAML President Joslin Davis. “While cohabitation agreements might represent an effective option for a variety of partners with finances and assets to protect, we are also finding a substantial decrease in these contracts for same-sex clients, coinciding with the marriage equality movement in recent times.”

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Overall, 45 percent of AAML members have cited an increase in the number of legal disputes between unmarried couples who had previously lived together during the past three years, while 53 percent stated no change, and two percent saw a decrease. In all, 26 percent cited an increase in cohabitation agreement requests from unmarried couples, 68 percent said no change and six percent noted a decrease.

LGBT military rights group appoints new leader

OutServe-SLDN’s board of directors has reported that Matt Thorn has been hired as executive director on a permanent basis. Thorn had been interim executive director since February 2015.

OutServe-SLDN is the largest non-profit, legal services, advocacy and policy organization dedicated to bringing about full LGBT equality to America’s military and ending all forms of discrimination and harassment of military personnel on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Initiative targets LGBT businesswomen

Out Leadership, a global business advisory organization, has announced the launch of OutWOMEN, an initiative that champions the success of senior LGBT women in business.

Beth Brooke-Marciniak, global vice chair of public policy and a member of Out Leadership’s Global Advisory Board, and Martine Rothblatt, CEO of United Therapeutics, will co-chair the inaugural OutWOMEN event in March.

OutWOMEN is a new platform Out Leadership will build to bring together senior LGBT executives to create business opportunities and cultivate talent — and, thereby, drive equality forward.

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