Marriage Equality Won’t Keep You from Getting Fired, Evicted

Sad as I am to be the bearer of sad tidings, even before the celebrations of the June 26 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states had faded, the destructive reactions had begun. People, even long-term employees, are being fired for getting married or being in a same-sex marriage, a scenario The Advocate anticipated way back in April. We even hear from colleagues of people being denied medications because their pharmacist objects to their marriages.

In many cases organizations opposed to marriage equality have been willing to turn a blind eye to employees’ sexual orientations as long as they kept quiet about it. But in what The Advocate called an “unintended consequence of marriage equality,” when those employees take advantage of their newly won freedom to marry their partners, their employers will not tolerate the public action. “In some cases these people are longtime employees whose homosexuality becomes an issue to their bosses only when they make a ‘public declaration’ by marrying,” the article continues.

Recently in the headlines is the firing of a popular teacher, Margie Winters, at a Philadelphia Catholic private school. Although Winters was completely forthcoming about her marriage to a woman at the time of her hiring in 2007, she was fired only in June, after a couple of parents learned of her marriage and complained to the administration. The local archbishop has defended the school’s action.

A New Republic article cites Human Rights Campaign’s Adam Talbot’s take on the current status of LGBT rights, post-Obergefell: “[Gays] can get married at 10, post those photos on Facebook, their boss can fire them at noon on the basis of their sexual orientation, and at 2 p.m., their landlord can evict them.”

That’s because, while the Court’s ruling in support of same-sex marriage was significant, on other fronts, specifically jobs and housing, equal protection under the law is spotty at best. In most places, individuals can still be fired for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, and they can be denied housing on the same basis. And in a way, the media frenzy surrounding the SCOTUS decision and the understandable but attention-drawing rush of many couples, so long denied, to the altar has put LGBT people quietly going about their lives in the spotlight. “Sure, maybe you can get married now, but we’ll make sure you don’t have a nice, cushy job or comfortable apartment to come home to,” the bigots seem to taunt us.

In a nutshell, there is still much work to be done before LGBT Americans have full equality under the law. The organizations that have fought so hard, for so long, for the victory that has afforded the legal status and security of marriage to same-sex couples still need our help, our efforts, and our money, and they will for some time to come. They can’t quit now, and neither must we.

Rich Vaughn
Richard Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn is founder and principal of International Fertility Law Group, one of the world’s largest and best-known law firms focused exclusively on assisted reproductive technology, or ART, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), surrogacy, sperm donation or egg donation. Rich is co-author of the book “Developing A Successful Assisted Reproduction Technology Law Practice,” American Bar Association Publishing, 2017.

Peiya Wang
Paralegal (律师助理)

Peiya Wang joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2015, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases and provides translation services for many of IFLG’s international clients. Peiya received her bachelor’s degree from Beijing Technologies and Business University, where she majored in Marketing. She moved to the United States in 2012 to attend Northeast University in Boston, Massachusetts, receiving a Master of Science degree in Global Studies and International Affairs in 2014. Peiya moved to Los Angeles in 2015 and received her paralegal certification from UCLA Extension. When away from the office, Peiya is a dragon boat paddler and a ballroom dancer, where she favors Rumbas and Cha-chas. She is fluent in Mandarin and English.

Luis Sosa

Luis R. Sosa joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2016, where he enjoys pursuing his passion for family and reproductive law. While working toward his bachelor’s degree at Florida International University, Luis worked as a paralegal and legal assistant for family law litigation firms in Miami and Washington, D.C. As a paralegal and case manager for IFLG, Luis, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, manages surrogacy, egg donation and other reproductive law cases. In addition to spending time with husband Randy and dog Marty, Luis enjoys being outdoors and appreciating the arts.

Toni Hughes

After receiving her B.S. in Business Management, Toni joined IFLG to pursue her dream of working in the legal field. As a Paralegal with over 10 years of experience in the assisted reproduction technology field, Toni is our Managing Paralegal, responsible for training and managing our paralegal staff. From drafting legal documents to assisting our clients with post-birth matters, Toni embraces the challenge of learning something new in this field each day. Besides spending time with her son, Jordan, Toni enjoys exploring new things, cooking, spending time with family and friends, and serving as a Youth Advisor for “Next Generation.”

Miesha Cowart
Financial Coordinator

Miesha Cowart joined IFLG as a financial specialist in 2014 following a successful career in development and business finance. Miesha previously worked for 10 years in the construction industry as a controller and for 13 years as Development Coordinator for the non-profit U.S. Fund for UNICEF. In her free time, Miesha works with “Next Generation” at her church. “They are my heartbeats!” she says of the youth in her community.


Kim has over 25 years of experience in the legal field and has worked exclusively in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 1999. Kim is a senior case manager of surrogacy and egg donation cases, and is also responsible for managing parental establishment cases and interacting with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorneys across the country. With three children of her own, Kim understands the importance of family and finds working in this area of law a rewarding experience.

Rich Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn combined his personal passion as a father of twin boys born via assisted reproductive technology (ART) with more than 20 years of experience in business and technology law to build International Fertility Law Group. Today IFLG is one of the most successful and best-known law firms in the world focused exclusively on fertility law, helping thousands of intended parents through empathetic listening, compassionate guidance, and unmatched legal expertise. As an advocate for reproductive freedom, Rich also contributes his knowledge and time to improving the understanding and practice of ART law, most recently as a founder of and speaker at the first Cambridge University International Surrogacy Symposium held in June 2019, as immediate past chair of the American Bar Association ART Committee, and as a popular presenter to law schools, faculty and advocacy organizations all over the world.

Elizabeth Tamayo

Elizabeth received her Bachelors of Science degree in Criminal Justice from California State University of Los Angeles. Shortly after graduating, she continued her education at the University of California, Los Angeles where she obtained her Paralegal certificate. Elizabeth is fluent in Spanish and has been in the legal field since 2009. She is excited to be a part of the IFLG Team helping families realize their dreams.

Sunny Chien

Sunny joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2017, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s international clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from California State University of Los Angeles, where she graduated cum laude. Sunny is bilingual in English and Mandarin and has extensive experience as a legal assistant and paralegal at Los Angeles-area law firms. She is excited to be part of the IFLG team. In her spare time, Sunny enjoys spending time with her family and their dog, going to the beach, cooking, and being outdoors.

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Molly O'Brien

Fertility law attorney Molly O’Brien began working in the field of assisted reproduction technology (ART) in 2005, at an egg donation agency and a surrogacy agency where she became familiar with all aspects of in-vitro fertilization, egg donation and the financial aspects of surrogacy. Since becoming an attorney in 2011, Molly has drafted and negotiated surrogacy, egg donation, sperm donation embryo donation agreements for hundreds of her clients all over the world.