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Fabric of society


Founded in OKC, the new website Woven allows gay and transgender communities access to legal and financial information.

Giancarlo Gonzalez November 13th, 2013

Woven is a start-up company that aims to fulfill a unique function in our democracy.

It allows Americans who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender to access critical legal and financial information from professionals. Its website, livewoven.com, has educational content.

Visitors can watch a video or read an article to learn how they can live their true lives amid the quagmire of complex and competing state and federal laws.

The site also contains a national provider directory listing attorneys, financial advisers and tax and insurance professionals who understand the unique legal and financial issues faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transexual couples and families.

Based in Oklahoma City, Woven is the brainchild of Melinda Olbert. With the support of her husband, she made a career change from law to financial planning.

“Over the last 18 months or so, clients came to me for financial planning, and I realized they needed legal planning as well,” Olbert said. “I looked around for a resource where I could send clients to read articles on the need for comprehensive legal planning as well as financial, and I didn’t find any. With my legal background, it just seemed like a natural fit to start something.”

Kristin Davis, president of Woven, has heard the nightmare stories of couples trying to navigate their lives amid hate.

“I talked to a gay couple in a southern state, and they wanted to purchase a home together, but they wanted to make sure they had all the protections in place and get a property agreement,” Davis said. “They went to an attorney who they had heard was very reputable, who had ads all over town and had a wealth of experience, but as soon as he figured out they were gay and what they needed, he kicked them out.

“People encounter that all the time, and there’s fear, so they said, ‘We’re never going to an attorney again.’ Well, that’s the wrong thing, too, because then they won’t have the protections, the resources they need.”

Sally Gilbert, an OKC attorney for more than 30 years and one who is included on Woven’s provider list, agreed.

“The LBGT community here in Oklahoma is an underserved population in the same way the poor population is underserved. It’s due to a lack of knowledge, a lack of trust, a feeling that there’s no relief available. Woven brings this incredible technology which makes legal resources available to the general public.”

Jamy and Alison Callahan appear on the website’s introductory video.

“There are so many issues that come up for LGBT that individuals don’t necessarily think of, so having experts to go to is so helpful because they bring up things that you wouldn’t consider,” said Jamy Callahan, who has been with Alison for nearly a decade. “I’ve been calling her my wife for years, but we just got married officially in New York Aug. 30.

"I know a lot of same-sex couples here that call their significant other their husband or their wife, but you’re not really protected like that. If something were to happen to one of you, you are screwed in the end, honestly; there’s no protection for you.”

 
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