Recent Comments


    Are They Coming for Us Next? How Dobbs Affects the LGBTQ Community

    By Deb L. Kinney–

    Minutes after the leaked Dobbs decision and again on the morning after the official SCOTUS decision was shared, I received texts and emails from clients and friends asking, “Are we next?” At first this took me back to the post-Prop 8 days, when we suffered a huge blow on the trajectory to gaining marriage rights and had no idea what our immediate way forward was. But this is much different.

    In 2008, we were unified and hopeful. Along with our painful defeat in California to retain marriage rights, we celebrated the first Black president, and his election was a symbol of the vision and hard work that had been done by many over decades. Or that was what we told ourselves as we accepted that electing a woman as president seemed impossible still.

    In 2016, we again were reminded that a woman cannot be elected even when she is running against a candidate with little experience and a dubious reputation. That lack of unity among the majority of the country to ensure a more qualified candidate led us to what was and is possibly the greatest mistake our country has made in centuries. Former President Trump’s ability to appoint three Supreme Court Justices will affect our lives for decades to come. But it isn’t just the president who was elected; it was also the number of state and national officials who were voted in who were, and are not, in step with the majority thinking. Women have had their rights eroded ever since, and attacks on other minority communities have only intensified.

    In 2020, Virginia was the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, which should have led to the enactment of the 28th Amendment to the Constitution, giving women equal rights and protections. But as that seemed more real, the opposition stayed strong, and to this day, the ERA is in legal limbo. Neither Democrats in the Senate nor the White House have made the ERA a priority.

    With Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organizations, the Supreme Court eviscerated a women’s right to bodily autonomy, sense of security, and ability to live freely in the United States. Six justices agreed that a woman or birthing person cannot be free to choose if and when they have children. They cited various arguments including that the right to privacy does not extend to reproductive justice. They also said that the right to privacy is not guaranteed in the Constitution, leading one to think that other decisions like contraception and marriage equality might also be at risk in front of this Court.

    I have counseled thousands of LGBT clients about their rights and privileges over time. At first the conversations were short, and we instead concentrated on how to work around the dearth of protections by executing proper documents and planning. Now the list of rights is longer and the conversations are more about how to fix the many years that relationships were not recognized, and how to take full advantage of the legal and tax system afforded to married couples throughout the United States.

    But now I fear that there could be a rollback of rights if we don’t take what to many will seem like drastic measures. The greatest defense and offense we have right now is to become more politically involved than ever. That means voting, protesting, donating to campaigns, understanding who the candidates are, and evaluating their records. It means discussing issues at dinner parties and cocreating plans to make an impact. It means watching or reading the news and participating in our democratic process. It means understanding and advocating for the expansion of the Supreme Court and statehood for Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

    Democracy is a verb—we all must do it to make it real. Erosion of rights is happening all over the world and referendums on LGBT rights are happening before our eyes and abroad; here in the U.S., Ron DeSantis took his anti-gay rhetoric from Orban in Hungary who got it from Putin. This is not at all by accident that these extremists are going after rights. But we can stop it. We must.

    Vice President Kamala Harris recently said that “all Americans have something at stake in this decision.” She is not wrong. When rights are taken away, we all lose something. When laws are passed or enforced that benefit a few and not the majority we all lose. We have seen the erosion of rights one by one in history before and we can stand by and let it happen or we can work hard to make sure it does not. At this critical juncture, the choice is ours.

    It may feel like a lot. Many of us have been doing this work for years and are tired. Or we have busy jobs and kids, and can’t imagine where more time and energy will come from. But for many of us, how we live is a choice still in this country. If we have privilege because of the color of our skin, our gender, our economic status, or educational opportunities, then we have even more duty to do what it is that defends the freedoms of all.

    Are they coming after us? I don’t know. But I do know that if I do nothing, I cannot later be surprised. If I act now, I believe that we can keep our families and communities safe. If we learn to make calls and encourage disenfranchised voters to participate fully in our system, and make sure our kids and their friends understand the importance of a representative democracy, and bring political discourse back to better understand the needs of others and how we can work together, we can make progress. If we hide our heads in the sand, or avoid the harder conversations about outcomes that will impact our lives, we will wake up too late wondering what happened—much like history recounts. We have a choice, but time is running out.

    Deb L. Kinney is Of Counsel at Johnston, Kinney & Zulaica LLP, a law firm providing comprehensive estate planning, trust administration, probate, and family law. She also has an extensive background in real estate and has had her broker’s license for over 20 years. She sits on the board of The Tides Advocacy Fund and Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, and has served on the boards of Horizons Foundation, Equality California, and the Equality CA PAC for many years. She has been extensively involved and remains committed to advocacy for all people, has worked tirelessly on behalf of the LGBTQ community regarding income, property, and estate tax issues, and on women and gender equity issues.

    Photo by Will Zang

    Jennifer Kroot and Robert Holgate curate the “Out of Left Field” column for the San Francisco Bay Times. Kroot is a filmmaker, known for her award-winning LGBTQ themed documentaries, including The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin and To Be Takei. She studied filmmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute, where she has also taught. She is a member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Holgate, a humanitarian as well as a designer, is dedicated to critical social issues. With his hands-on approach to philanthropy and social justice, he supports the advancement of local and national social causes. For more information:

    Published on July 28, 2022