When Amalia C. and Melissa M. decided to start a family, they went through the well-trodden steps most same-sex couples take in New York City.
They married in 2011 and made sure both of their names were on their son’s birth certificate two years later, taking advantage of a New York State law that a child born to a married couple is presumed to be both of theirs, even if conceived through artificial insemination.
And months before Melissa gave birth to their son, Amalia started the adoption process, submitting to a criminal-background check, assembling years of financial documents and hiring a social worker to prepare a report about their household.
“Everyone we had spoken to,” said Amalia, 35, an engineer, “said the process was pretty clean-cut.”
But then a Brooklyn Surrogate’s Court judge, Margarita López Torres, ruled on Jan. 6 that because New York State had enacted same-sex marriage in 2011 and allowed both women to be listed on the boy’s birth certificate, Amalia was already the child’s parent and could not adopt him.
The ruling sent tremors through the ranks of gay couples and has exposed one of the new legal complexities facing same-sex couples with children.
The fear among same-sex couples is that without adoption papers, their parental rights might be questioned if they travel to other states or abroad. They also worry that the nonbiological parent will lose the rights if the family moves to a different state or the couple divorces.
Twelve biological fathers whose children were placed for adoption in Utah without their knowledge or consent have filed a federal lawsuit against the state, alleging Utah laws permit “legalized fraud and kidnapping.”
The fathers, represented by West Jordan attorney Wes Hutchins, allege that despite knowing about the “gross adoption infirmities” of Utah’s laws, two former attorneys general “did nothing for more than a decade to correct the fraud and deception” that led to their children being placed with adoptive families in Utah.
What happened to their sons and daughters was essentially “kidnapping and highly unethical and disruptive placement into adoptive homes without the knowledge or consent of their biological fathers,” the lawsuit states.
Utah’s laws have created a “confusing labyrinth of virtually incomprehensible legal mandates and nearly impossible deadlines” that amount to unconstitutional violations of the rights of unwed fathers, it states.
The lawsuit seeks monetary damages and a finding that the Utah Adoption Act is unconstitutional.
Martin successfully fought adoption of his daughter, born in 2012, and now has custody of her. Dye also recently succeeded in regaining custody of his son, who was about 18 months old when his mother brought him to Utah and placed him for adoption.
A man who provided sperm to a lesbian couple in response to an online ad is the father of a child born to one of the women and must pay child support, a Kansas judge ruled Wednesday.
Topeka resident William Marotta had argued that he had waived his parental rights and didn’t intend to be a father. Shawnee County District Court Judge Mary Mattivi rejected that claim, saying the parties didn’t involve a licensed physician in the artificial insemination process and thus Marotta didn’t qualify as a sperm donor, The Topeka Capital-Journal (http://bit.ly/LHwLyW) reported.
“In this case, quite simply, the parties failed to perform to statutory requirement of the Kansas Parentage Act in not enlisting a licensed physician at some point in the artificial insemination process, and the parties’ self-designation of (Marotta) as a sperm donor is insufficient to relieve (Marotta) of parental right and responsibilities to the child,” Mattivi wrote.
The Kansas Department for Children and Families filed the case in October 2012 seeking to have Marotta declared the father of a child born to Jennifer Schreiner in 2009. The state was seeking to have Marotta declared the child’s father so he can be held responsible for about $6,000 in public assistance the state provided, as well as future child support.
Click here to read the entire article: http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/judge-rules-kan-sperm-donor-owes-child-support-21629154#.UuEtsMuV-Bg.email
Surrogate motherhood might be illegal in France, but that hasn’t stopped an American surrogacy agency from holding meetings here, much to the ire of a group of French lawmakers who want authorities to take action.
A conservative French pressure group, backed by several lawmakers has filed a legal complaint in France against American surrogacy agency Extraordinary Conceptions.
The agency brings potential parents in France into contact with American surrogates and has reportedly been hosting informal meetings in France, a country which outlaws surrogate motherhood.
Its website also has a French version called Meres-Porteuses.com, clearly aimed at targeting a French audience.
The conservative association has decided enough is enough and has filed a legal complaint which forces authorities in France to investigate the American company.
Two lawmakers from conservative French political party UMP added their names on Wednesday to a legal complaint filed last week by watchdog group ‘Jurists for Childhood’ (Juristes Pour L’enfance), which also fought against gay marriage, newspaper Le Parisien reported on Thursday.
It is believed to be the first time a legal complaint has been filed against the group in France.
Senators Bruno Retailleau and Gérard Longuet railed against “the complicity of the French legal authorities in the business of surrogate mothers”.
Their charges were reiterated by ‘Juristes pour l’enfance’ spokeswoman Aude Mirkovic who noted the surrogacy is strictly forbidden in France. She went on to say the practics is unfair to the children it produces.”
“They bring a child into this world that doesn’t know his parents. As soon as the child is born they take him away from his mother,” she said. “That happens enough already. It’s unfair.”
The complaint is for the present largely symbolic because Extraordinary Conceptions has for the moment only hosted meetings in France.
For their part, the agency’s bosses firmly defended their work of connecting would-be parents with surrogates.
Gay City News, by Arthur Leonard – January 15, 2014
Yet another federal district judge has declared that a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages is an unconstitutional infringement of rights guaranteed by the US Constitution’s 14th Amendment.
On January 14, Senior District Judge Terence C. Kern, who has been dealing with the case of Bishop v. United States since 2004, held that the amendment adopted by an overwhelming vote of Oklahoma citizens denies same-sex couples their equal protection rights even when subjected to the most lenient standard of judicial review. The State of Utah, Kern found, provided no “rational” justification for the ban.
Kern, unlike US District Judge Robert J. Shelby in his Utah marriage equality decision last month, stayed his ruling pending Oklahoma’s appeal, which the state will undoubtedly pursue.
Like Utah, Oklahoma is within the 10th federal appellate circuit, which is already considering an appeal of the December 20 ruling out of Salt Lake City. The Utah case is on an expedited schedule, so it seems unlikely that Oklahoma would meet such a fast-track schedule unless the 1oth Circuit orders it to do so. Handling both cases in one appellate proceeding, however, would make good sense, so perhaps if Oklahoma officials decide to move quickly, this case could be consolidated with the Utah appeal. If the 1oth Circuit were to uphold both rulings, that would make US Supreme Court review, already likely with just one case, that much more of a lock.
The Oklahoma case, brought by two lesbian couples –– Mary Bishop and Sharon Baldwin, and Susan Barton and Gay Phillips –– took aim at both the 2004 state constitutional amendment and the federal Defense of Marriage Act. In more than nine years of litigation, the case took a few procedural twists and turns, including the decision by Barton and Phillips to marry in Canada and, later, in 2008, in California.
To read the entire article, go to http://gaycitynews.com/us-judge-throws-oklahoma-marriage-amendment-stays-ruling-pending-appeal/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=us-judge-throws-oklahoma-marriage-amendment-stays-ruling-pending-appeal
ANDY INKSTER, a transgender man, had always wanted biological children. So when he embarked on the transition from female to male at age 18 — changing his name, taking testosterone and eventually undergoing surgery to remove his breasts — he left his female reproductive organs intact.
In his mid-20s, he decided it was time. He stopped taking testosterone and started trying to get pregnant. Eventually, in 2009, after beginning graduate school at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, he sought fertility treatment at Baystate Reproductive Medicine. Baystate was one of the few clinics in the country with an anti-discrimination policy for gender identity. And yet, it refused to treat him, arguing that it didn’t have enough expertise to treat transgender patients. Mr. Inkster insisted there was no medical reason to deny him; his baby-making parts were the same as any woman’s.
The more than 700,000 transgender people living in the United States have long faced discrimination by health care providers. Over the past 15 years, activists have fought to compel insurers to cover transgender-related health care — from hormone therapy to gender reassignment surgery — or at least be prevented from excluding transgender clients from buying policies for basic services. Finally, starting this month, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, “transsexualism” can no longer be considered a pre-existing condition. What’s been left out of the spotlight: having babies. Many Americans have come to accept gay parents; the transgender community is next in line for recognition.
Mr. Inkster eventually found another clinic that helped him conceive via in vitro fertilization and donor sperm, and in October 2010, he gave birth to a daughter, Elise. A month later, he sued Baystate for sexual discrimination.
According to court documents, he was denied treatment after failing to comply with a clinic counselor’s request that he supply information from his current therapist that he was emotionally ready to handle pregnancy and parenting. Mr. Inkster argued that nontransgender patients weren’t asked to do the same. This fall, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination — the state’s civil rights agency — found probable cause for Mr. Inkster. The case will next move on to a conciliation conference, and then to a possible settlement.
Admittedly, the idea of a “pregnant man” makes many people uncomfortable, and photos of Mr. Inkster caressing his bulging belly are startling. The issue is controversial even within the transgender community. “Some people believe if you’re a trans man you shouldn’t be wanting to bear kids,” Jamison Green, the author of “Becoming a Visible Man,” told me. “That’s not something men do. Others think, If you have a body part that does something, why can’t you use it? It’s your body.”
The issue brings up unprecedented questions: Do you use your genetic material to reproduce, and at what time during your transition? Before or after hormone therapy? Before undergoing reassignment surgery that will make you sterile? Should a transgender man like Mr. Inkster keep his breasts so he can nurse later? Is it generally psychologically healthier for someone like him to freeze his eggs and have them inseminated and the embryos transferred to a female partner or surrogate, rather than leave his female reproductive parts intact? How might years of estrogen or testosterone therapy affect eggs and sperm?
To read the entire article, go to http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/13/opinion/the-next-frontier-in-fertility-treatment.html?src=rechp
Gay couples are likely to be happier and more positive about their relationships than heterosexuals, according to a major study by the Open University published today.
However, they are less likely to be openly affectionate towards each other – holding hands in public, for instance – because they still fear attracting disapproval.
The study of 5,000 people – 50 of whom were later followed up with in-depth interviews – aimed at finding out how modern couples keep their relationships on track through life’s difficulties.
It found that simple things – like making a cup of tea in the morning and taking it up to them in bed – were the most treasured by couples as examples of intimacy rather than more dramatic gestures such as declaring “I love you”.
It was on the relative happiness of people within different types of relationships that the survey threw up the most interesting insights into modern day life, however.
“LGBQ participants (lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer) are more generally positive about and happier with the quality of their relationship and the relationship which they have with their partner” the research concludes.
“Heterosexual parents are the group least likely to be there for each other, to make ‘couple time’, to pursue shared interests, to say ‘I love you’ and to talk openly to one another.”
But it added: “Public/private boundaries of ‘couple display’ remain fraught. Many LGBQ couples, especially the younger ones, say they would not hold hands in public for fear of reprisal.”
The study, funded by the Economic and Science Research Council, found that couples without children were generally likely to be happier than parents.
In addition, mothers were the least likely group to be satisfied with their partners.
To read the entire article, go to http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/the-key-to-a-happy-relationship-be-gay-or-childless-or-make-tea-9057349.html