The movement for equal treatment of LGBT-headed families is taking another significant step forward after the first International LGBT Parenting Symposium which took place in the summer of 2011. The symposium was part of an effort to increase international cooperation among LGBT family organizations worldwide, led by Family Equality Council, America’s foremost advocate for LGBT families, and the Network of European LGBT Families Associations (NELFA).
NELFA representatives from several European countries joined Americans from Family Equality Council and other U.S. gay organizations in several workshops and a public panel about “LGBT Families Around the World.”
This unprecedented international exchange and cooperation was made possible by the formation in recent years of many new LGBT family organizations around the world. While strong organizations in places like the US, Germany, France and Scandinavia have been around for a decade or more, and already represent tens of thousands families, many new “Rainbow Families” organizations have been created in recent years in countries such as the UK, Italy, Switzerland, and Israel.
Witnessing this trend at the vacations R Family has been organizing since 2003, founders Gregg Kaminsky and Kelli Carpenter decided to host international gatherings at their upcoming summer vacations at Club Med in Florida and onboard a Mediterranean Cruise. “When we started R Family, we addressed the need for LGBT families in the U.S. to meet other families just like them,” said Gregg, “but in recent years we realized that we are in a position to bring people together from all over the world.” “We made some introductions between Family Equality Council and our European friends,” reported Kelli, “and before long we were taking part in a series of multi-party trans- atlantic video conferences.” These conferences resulted in an invitation by R Family to host all the parties in Florida for further discussions and the symposium.