Me and My Gay Parents

White House Welcomes Gay Families For Easter

Maine committee endorses gay marriage bill

(Augusta, Maine) The state Senate Judiciary Committee voted 14-11 Tuesday to bring the equal marriage bill before the full Senate.

Moments before the vote was taken, a woman was removed from the room by State Police after shouting that the bill was immoral. Meanwhile, same-sex marriage advocates delivered more than 10,000 postcards to Gov. John Baldacci asking him to support the legislation. Baldacci has said he has not made up his mind on gay marriage.

EqualityMaine and the Center for the Prevention of Hate Violence called on the governor to endorse the bill and sign it if it passes the legislature. The groups also sent lawmakers copy of a book they prepared that includes interviews with 82 people who tell about the impact on their families of not having a gay marriage law.

The legislation would repeal Maine’s 12-year-old Defense of Marriage law which bars same-sex marriage. It also states that churches cannot be compelled to conduct same-sex weddings if they would be contrary to their doctrine.

Maine’s tourism industry has said legalizing same-sex marriage in the state could save them from disaster as the state’s economy continues to turn sour.

Industry spokespeople pointed to a recent study by the Williams Institute, a think tank at the University of California –  Los Angeles that found extending marriage to same-sex couples would boost Maine’s economy by $60 million over three years, which would generate increases in state and local government tax and fee revenues by almost $3.6 million.

The conservative Maine Marriage Alliance has said that if same-sex marriage appears to be on a track to legalization, it would press for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

A vote in the Senate could come as early as next week.

In New Hampshire, a vote on a similar bill is set for an initial vote Wednesday in the state Senate.

Same-sex marriage already is legal in three other New England states – Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont.

Holidays and Families…

“I have a granddaughter, sort of…” As the words left my mother’s mouth I had two distinct reactions: a cold shiver up my spine and a warm realization of just how far LGBT families have come in educating the world about who we really are.

First a little background. I think the cold shiver was, in part, due to whom my mom was talking. She was talking to my sister’s in-law that I had never met before. My husband Gary and I celebrated Thanksgiving with my family this year. Prior to our marriage in July, we always had Thanksgiving at his house and split up to celebrate Christmas with our respective families. After our marriage, we decided that we should be together every holiday, so we are now alternating. My mom told me, right before we left for my sister’s house, that her in-laws “had a problem” with Gary’s and my relationship.

Why is it that I still feel nervous around homophobes? I wasn’t even sure that they were homophobes, I had never met them, but I was still nervous because of what my mother said. Did she think Gary and I were going to spontaneously start some heavy petting right there on the floor? I know that many of us feel this way, and because of that feeling, we stay away from our families at Holiday times. Many of us just don’t want the added aggravation of having to defend our lives to the people who should support them the most.

And by the way, before her stroke, my mom was a vocal advocate for Gary and I. She would speak up to anyone in her small West Virginia town that said something disparaging about gay people. After the stroke, she got a little more tentative about putting herself in awkward situations, but not this time.

How we deal with our relatives is often a mirror of how we deal with our families of choice, our partners and our friends. I am lucky to have a very supportive family, but I am not immune to the word choices and vocal inflections of my mom, or my husband.

The warm feeling in reaction to my mom’s words, however, is the greatest thing in the world. You see; I am a father. I am blessed to have two wonderful friends, a lesbian couple, who were open to creating a family that does not fall into the traditional definition.

While my daughter has only two legal parents, I have surrendered my parental rights to the biological mom’s wife, she has two loving moms and two loving dads and lots of grandparents and so much love that she will never want for affection. Gary and I see my daughter a lot, about once a week. She even slept over with Gary and me the other weekend. Her moms live around the corner and we are becoming closer as friends throughout this whole process. It’s about trust and we are building it everyday.

More and more, gay parents are breaking new ground in the creation of family. Many of us don’t want the sterile and separate feeling that can accompany an unknown egg or sperm donor. All of us want to teach our children about love that is nonjudgmental and respects the lives of all involved. While many in the LGBT community celebrate love without children in the picture, it is a celebration nonetheless. And love is at the center.

I have to give my mother credit. She does have a granddaughter and she was brave enough to tell someone who may have never before heard of such a family. She said it to someone who may have judged my family as wrong somehow. But now, that person cannot ever say again that hers is the only type of family out there. I’ve got to go home for the Holidays more often!

Happiness

Happiness

Anthony M. Brown

Gay dad, kids receive Social Security benefits


(Washington) The Social Security Administration has reversed a decision to deny benefits to the children of a disabled gay father following a three year battle waged on behalf of the family by Lambda Legal.

“This is long awaited relief for Gary Day and his children, who just want to be respected as the family that they are,” said Lambda attorney Beth Littrell in a statement.

“The Social Security Administration is supposed to provide families with help in a time of need regardless of a parent’s sexual orientation. After three long years and a federal lawsuit, the SSA has finally come through for these children.”

In February 2006, Day completed the applications for Child Insurance Benefits for his children. He provided birth certificates and court documents that acknowledge him as a legal parent of the children. The SSA acknowledged that they received the application and promised to provide a response in 45 days.

After more than a year with no response, Lambda Legal sent a letter on Day’s behalf seeking action by the agency. The SSA still did not provide an initial determination of eligibility citing unspecified “legal questions and policy issues” involved with the application.

Day provided all the necessary documentation to establish a legitimate parent-child relationship and fulfilled all of the SSA’s prerequisites, according to Lambda, yet his family was left without the social safety net that Day had paid into for decades and that all other families are provided on a regular basis.

In May 2008, Lambda Legal, along with co-counsel from McDermott Will & Emery, filed suit against the SSA compelling the agency to act on Day’s application and urging the SSA to recognize Day as a legal parent of the children.

The agency Friday finally sent a letter to Lambda recognizing the legal relationship between Day and his children without discrimination based on his sexual orientation or family status.

“As a parent, it is my job to provide for my children,” said Day.

” I am relieved to be able to fulfill my promise and also relieved that the SSA will provide the benefits my family needs, just as they do for other families.”

“This case has always been about the welfare of Mr. Day’s children and protecting them from discrimination … The sexual orientation of their parents is and should be irrelevant to such a determination,” said co-counsel Lisa A. Linsky.

Florida Supreme Court takes up gay adoption advocacy case

(Tallahassee, Florida) The Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday heard oral arguments as to whether a committee of the Florida Bar Association can present arguments challenging the state’s ban on gays adopting children.

Florida law allows gays to serve as foster parents but not adopt. The law is considered the most repressive of its kind in the country.  But a Miami judge ruled in November that there is “no rational basis” for prohibiting gays from adopting children.

The Florida Department of Children & Families and the state attorney general’s office , backed by Gov. Charlie Crist (R), appealed the gay-friendly ruling to the Third District Court of Appeal in Miami.

In January, the Florida Bar’s Board of Governors voted to allow its Family Law Section to file “a friend of the court” brief in support of the gay-friendly lower court ruling. But a conservative group of attorneys challenged the right of the board to intervene in the case. The lawyers are represented by Liberty Counsel, which regularly fights LGBT issues across the country.

The Bar Association, on the other hand, argues that the board should be allowed to present its arguments, saying that the board is a voluntary section of the Bar and does not necessarily represent the full membership of the Association.

The  issue of whether the ban on gay adoptions is constitutional will likely ultimately end up before the Supreme Court as well.

Until then, the lower court ruling permitting gay adoption will apply only to the case that was before it at the time, which  involved Martin Gill of Miami who sought to adopt two young brothers he had cared for as foster children since 2004.

The boys had been placed with Gill temporarily after he was approached for help by a state child abuse investigator. When the three became attached, so Gill sought to adopt the boys.

In November, Gill and lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union in October asked Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman to overturn the ban on gay adoption and award him permanent custody.

An attorney appointed by Lederman to represent the children said in a report to the court that the children refer to Gill and his partner as “dad” and that Gill should be granted the adoption.

The Florida Department of Children & Families and the state attorney general’s office argued the ban should be maintained. The position had the support of Gov. Charlie Crist (R) who said he has no plans to have the law repealed.

The Florida legislature adopted the law banning gay adoption during Anita Bryant’s infamous anti-gay crusade in 1977. The bill’s sponsor in the state Senate told a local newspaper at the time that the law was intended to send this message to lesbians and gay men: “[We] are really tired of you. We wish you’d go back in the closet.”

In 2004, a federal appeals court upheld Florida’s ban on gay adoption. In a written ruling, the court rejected a challenge by four gay men to the law.

“We exercise great caution when asked to take sides in an ongoing public policy debate, such as the current one over the compatibility of homosexual conduct with the duties of adoptive parenthood,” wrote Judge Stanley Birch.

“The state of Florida has made the determination that it is not in the best interests of its displaced children to be adopted by individuals who ‘engage in current, voluntary homosexual activity’ and we have found nothing in the Constitution that forbids this policy judgment.”

The following year, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal. Attempts to repeal the law have failed several times in the Florida legislature.

Meet Amy and Maria

Here’s a letter from Amy and Maria telling the story of their adoption.

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Paths to Parenthood

Adoption – There is nothing like the feeling of helping a child find a loving home.  Whether through public, private or International adoption, gay and lesbian families are embracing children who need homes in growing numbers.  There are many adoption options for you and your family.  We hope that some of these resources are helpful and invite you to share your stories with us at TimeForFamilies.com.

Artificial Insemination (Known Donor or Anonymous Donor) – The decision to have a family is no longer as simple as a turkey baster and a sperm bank.  The increasing number of lesbian couples choosing known donors to assist them is a testament that fact.  Have you thought of asking a friend or relative to assist you and your partner in having a family?  Do you have friends who have a known donor dad?  The first and most important information to obtain is how the law treats these relationships and whether your state will allow your partner to adopt your child.  Check out our known donor counseling page for more information and please feel free to share your story.

IVF – In Vitro Fertilization is commonly referred to as IVF. IVF is the process of fertilization by manually combining an egg and sperm in a laboratory dish. When the IVF procedure is successful, the process is combined with a procedure known as embryo transfer, which is used to physically place the embryo in the uterus.  Please see the Physicians page for referral and commentary.

IUI – Intra-Uterine Insemination (also known as artificial insemination) is the process of preparing and delivering sperm so that a highly concentrated amount of active motile sperm is placed directly through the cervix into the uterus.  Please see the Physicians page for referral and commentary.

Surrogacy – Surrogacy is a method of reproduction whereby a woman agrees to become pregnant and deliver a child for a contracted party. She may be the child’s genetic mother (the more traditional form of surrogacy), or she may, as a gestational carrier, carry the pregnancy to delivery after having been implanted with an embryo, in some jurisdictions an illegal medical procedure.  Please see the Surrogacy Referrals page for more information.

Thinking about adopting?

With more than 125,000 children adopted per year in the United States alone, and increasing acceptance of same-sex couples as parents, adoption has become a wonderful way to have a family.  Ask any adopted adult and they will tell you of the profound experience that is adoption.

Private Adoption – There are so many private adoption stories to be told and I hope that if you have one, you will share them here on TimeForFamilies.com.  Checking out a non-gay adoption forum may also help you with unanswered questions and give you ideas on how best to proceed.  The first step for many couples seeking to adopt is finding an adoption agency or attorney.  Of the many choices available, I have personally heard favorable comments made about Susan Romer of Adams & Romer and Friends in Adoption.  Resident Bloggers Ricky and Anthony are using Friends in Adoption so if you have a specific question, email Ricky and Anthony for more information.

Public Adoption – Becoming a parent through the foster care system, especially in New York, is a process that has united literally thousands of children with loving families, both same-sex and different sex families.  While the children in the system may be older or harder to place, the state will work with you to find the right match.  Remember to be direct and flexible.  There is always a solution.

International Adoption – Adopting a child from a foreign country will require finding an agency that is not only open to working with gay parents, but has a successful history of placing foreign children in gay households.  The parents will be required to share this information with the foreign country. Religious influence is an absolute consideration, both on a national and agency level.  The culture of the foreign country will often dictate whether or not a gay couple may adopt there.  The solution ultimately may be to adopt as a single parent in the foreign country, then have a second parent adoption in the US.

Second Parent Adoption – The court procedure known as second parent adoption is the only means by which a non-biological parent in a same-sex relationship may create a legal and portably binding relationship with their partner’s biological child. If the couple uses a unknown sperm or ova donor, the child born of such an arrangement will only have one legal parent if that couple is unmarried. Some courts are now recognizing same-sex marriages validly performed in other jurisdictions for the purpose of adding a nonbiological parent’s name to a child’s Birth Certificate, however, other states are not bound to respect that relationship unless there is a Second Parent Adoption.  For more information, visit my Second Parent Adoption page.

Thinking about having a known Donor?

Lesbian moms have more options than ever when planning a family.  The number of couples choosing a known donor over anonymous sperm donation is steadily increasing and the benefits of known donor families are as wonderful as they are complicated.

What should you consider with a known donor?  First, you must know what role you and your partner want to play in your child’s life.  If there isn’t room for anyone else, that is the answer to your question.
However, having more love and support for your child is always a plus and with careful legal and emotional planning, known sperm donation can be the answer to your family planning prayers.  I should know, I am a donor dad and I couldn’t be happier.
Among the many considerations in known donor situations are: decision making authority, legal surrender of parental rights, amount of time each person will have with the child (from infancy to adulthood), financial constributions, emotional makeup of the donor, relatinship status of the donor…  To read my op-ed on being a known donor, click here.
One of my unique legal services is known donor counseling.  If you would like to discuss specific questions to consider before approaching a known donor, please email me today.