Israeli government ends opposition to same-sex adoption

The Israeli government on Tuesday formally ended its opposition to adoption rights for same-sex couples.

Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, cited media reports that indicate the Israeli Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services told the State Attorney’s Office “it has no objection to the practice.”

Same-sex couples in Israel are able to adopt children, but Haaretz reports they can “only adopt children for whom no adoptive heterosexual married couple can be found.” The newspaper notes gay and lesbian couples must wait longer to adopt than those who are heterosexual and Israeli law considers adoptive parents who are of the same sex “individual adoptive parents.”Israel Surrogacy

The Association of Israeli Gay Fathers and the Israel Religious Action Center challenged the law in a petition with the Israeli Supreme Court it filed against the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services and Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit. Haaretz last month reported Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government in a brief said, “it has been decided by the professional bodies in the Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Ministry not to act at the present time to change the existing law.”

Haaretz on Tuesday reported the ministry’s new adoption criteria “will address the potential parents’ suitability for a given child, regardless of sexual orientation.” The Knesset has to formally act on amending the country’s adoption law in order for the proposed regulations to take effect.

“By acknowledging that same-sex couples are able to be parents and adopt, the Ministry of Social Services has straighten line (sic) with experts and the Israeli public,” Chen Arieli, chair of the Aguda, the Israeli National LGBT Task Force, told the Washington Blade in a statement. “Now it’s time for members of the Knesset to do their part, and we expect them to change the law as soon as possible.”

by Michael Lavers – washingtonblade.com, August 30. 2017

Click here to read the entire article.

Best Interests of the Child – Evolving Family Law

Best Interests of the Child – In this next installment of the Columbia Teachers College series on professionals working within the LGBT community, I have the privilege of discussing dome of the recent case law that affects our families and we, as professionals, can better educate the circles in which we work.

 Family courts focus appropriately on the best interests of the child when attempting to determine such issues as custody and visitation in disputed matters.  This essential premise should inform their decision making processes.best interests of the child

Columbia Teachers College has created a series of videos for students who want to work with the LGBT community. I am privileged to have been featured as a mentor and to be able to tell my story. This video discusses the current law in New York, recent changes that have had an immeasurable impact on LGBT families and how the best interests of the child are paramount to a court’s adjudication of an issue.

There is no written “standard” for a best interests analysis. A judge will rely on several factors including,  familial stability, mental and physical health of the parents, drug or alcohol abuse, primary caretaker role, the ability of the parents to get along with one another and, depending on the child’s age, what the child believes is in their best interest.  The health and safety of the child are always the utmost consideration.  

I hope that you enjoy watching this video and, if you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out to me through the contact form below.

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Chilean president introduces same-sex marriage, adoption bill

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet on Monday introduced a bill that would extend marriage and adoption rights to same-sex couples.

Ronaldo Jiménez, president of the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation, a Chilean LGBT advocacy group, is among those who attended the announcement that took place at the presidential palace in the country’s capital of Santiago. Nicolás Levy, the Washington Blade’s correspondent in Chile, was also in attendance.

“The president begins the act of signing a marriage equality bill,” said Jiménez in a tweet that included a picture of Bachelet at the ceremony. “That’s how we like Chile.”

Same-sex couples have been able to enter into civil unions in the South American country since October 2015.

The Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation in 2012 filed a lawsuit with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on behalf of three same-sex couples who are seeking marriage rights in the South American country. Bachelet’s government agreed to introduce a marriage and adoption bill as part of an agreement it reached with the group in June 2016.

by Mike Lavers, Washingtonblade.com, August 28, 2017

Click here to read the entire article.

TIAA adds LGBT benefit to help female couples with family planning

Investment advisory firm TIAA has added reciprocal IVF assistance to its family planning benefits package as an LGBT inclusion measure.

The New York City-based firm officially added the benefit July 1 after conversations with its LGBT employee resource group during Pride Month in June.

“The addition of reciprocal IVF [meaning one partner supplies the eggs to be used for IVF, while the other partner is the gestational carrier of the pregnancy] could significantly help female couples achieve their family planning goals, and we want to provide them with the same support other employees already receive,” says Skip Spriggs, senior executive vice president and chief human resources officer at TIAA. “It wasn’t a cost issue, but it was about creating the right environment.”TIAA

Prior to this benefits addition, employees had to go through a pre-certification process with a claims administrator to verify infertility, says TIAA. Now, employees can have IVF services covered without verifying that they tried natural or artificial insemination. Similarly, female couples don’t have to provide infertility to gain access to IVF as a covered benefit, the firm says.

Only 57% of employers offer a type of infertility service coverage, and 25% of the employers cover IVF, according to Mercer’s 2016 “National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans.”

by Amanda Eisenberg, August 21, 2017 – benefit news.com

Click here to read the entire article.

India Declares Freedom Of Sexual Orientation A Fundamental Right

India’s Supreme Court – “Equality demands that the sexual orientation of each individual in society must be protected on an even platform.”

Another win for love. 

India’s Supreme Court has given the country’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans community the freedom to safely express their sexual orientation. In a historic decision on Thursday, the nine-judge panel declared that an individual’s sexual orientation is protected under the country’s Right to Privacy law.gay family law

“Sexual orientation is an essential attribute of privacy,” the decision reads. “Discrimination against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation is deeply offensive to the dignity and self-worth of the individual. Equality demands that the sexual orientation of each individual in society must be protected on an even platform.”

Although the Supreme Court did not directly overturn any laws criminalizing same-sex relationships, the language of the court decision offers hope to the LGBTQ community. The judges expressly state sexual orientation falls under an individual’s right to privacy, a constitutional right, and that no individual should be discriminated against based on their orientation.  

Going forward, this can establish a precedent as organizations challenge discriminatory laws in court, and offer protection against discrimination in places such as the workforce.

This could even deliver a death blow to an oppressive and controversial law in the Indian Penal Code. Section 377 is a law that limits a citizen’s right to express their gender identity or sexual orientation in consensual relationships. In 2013, another panel of the Supreme Court upheld Section 377. 

India’s traditional culture can make it difficult for people who are LGBTQ to be open about their orientation, but some are still challenging the country’s norms. Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil came out in 2006, making him the country’s first openly gay prince. Since then, he has been fighting for the Indian LGBTQ community. 

Prince Manvendra started a grassroots campaign in 2014 called “Free Gay India” to campaign for LGBTQ rights. He has put a spotlight on the oppression as a guest on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and was recently on an episode of “Keeping Up With The Kardashians.” 

The Worst (and Best) Places To Be Gay in America – Opinion

If the Trump administration won’t protect gay people, we’re at the mercy of our ZIP codes.

All my life I’ve loved Texas: those big skies, big steaks and big attitudes. I’m there several times a year.

But Texas doesn’t love me back. Certainly its lawmakers don’t, and lately they’ve been hellbent on showing that.

In June the governor signed a bill allowing child welfare groups to refuse adoptions that contradict their “sincerely held religious beliefs.” They can turn away gay men like me.adoption and surroagcy

That same month, the Texas Supreme Court approved a lawsuit challenging the city of Houston’s provision of equal benefits to all married employees, including those with same-sex spouses. Although the United States Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in 2015, Texas bucks and balks.

Not New York. My state loves me something fierce. What it did in June was finalize the design of a monument to L.G.B.T. citizens in downtown Manhattan. New York legalized same-sex marriage back in 2011 without any federal nudge.

There’s no such thing as L.G.B.T. life in America, a country even more divided on this front than on others. There’s L.G.B.T. life in a group of essentially progressive places like New York, Maryland, Oregon and California, which bans government-funded travel to states it deems unduly discriminatory. Then there is L.G.B.T. life on that blacklist, which includes Texas, Kansas, Mississippi and South Dakota.

The differences between states — and between cities within states — are profound, and while that has long been true, it’s much more consequential since the advent of the Trump administration, a decidedly less ready ally of L.G.B.T. people than the Obama administration was.

The federal government under Donald Trump won’t be rushing in to help L.G.B.T. people whose local governments fail to give them equal rights, a sense of belonging or even a feeling of physical safety. Despite Trump’s happy campaign talk about how fond he was of gays (and, Trump being Trump, how fond they were of him), his record as president has been hurtful and hateful. Immediately after his inauguration, references to the L.G.B.T. community were scrubbed from many federal websites, including the White House’s and the Department of State’s.

Plenty of the people he pulled into his cabinet have long histories of pronounced opposition to gay rights. One of them, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, leads a Department of Justice that recently went out of its way to make clear, in court filings, that it did not consider L.G.B.T. people to be protected by a federal civil rights law that prohibits employment discrimination. The Obama administration had taken the opposite view.

by Frank Bruni, New York Times, August 25, 2017

Click here to read the entire article.

What Donor Conceived People Think of Donor Conception

The number of donor conceived children (donor sperm, donor egg, and donor embryo) is expanding.

In many ways it feels that we are standing on a precipice. We have such an opportunity in front of us to avoid some of the mistakes made in the past with both sperm donation and adoption, and yet I fear we are not learning.  Donor conceived children may have the answer.

The real experts on the best way to raise a child conceived by donor sperm, egg, or embryo are the adults that were conceived by donor conception way back in the day (or not so way back). I recently read the results of a fascinating survey of 82 donor conceived adults on We Are Donor Conceived.IVF

The people who responded to the survey were from around the world, mostly female (84%), raised by heterosexual parents (82%), and conceived by donor sperm (81 out of 82). They were born between 1954 and 2000, with 42% being born in the 1980s.

Donors and Donor Siblings are Important

According to We are Donor Conceived, 65% of respondents agree with the statement “My donor is half of who I am”. 94% indicated they often wonder what personality traits, skills, and/or physical similarities they share with their donor. 96% of respondents said they would like to know how many donor siblings they have, and a strong majority indicated they are open to forming a relationship with their donor (87%) or donor siblings (96%).

Eighty-six percent of the respondents thought that anonymous donation should not be allowed.

When Did They Find Out They Were Donor Conceived

The results on when they found out they were conceived by donor surprised me because I assumed that more of them would have found out later in life. The survey, however, found that 61% were five years or younger when they found out.

by Dawn Davenport, August 24, 2017 – Creatingafamily.org

Click here to read the entire article.

Israel High Court says it’s in favor of surrogacy for same-sex couples

Assistant chief justice indicates it’s time to widen access to additional family units; ruling delayed for 6 months

The High Court of Justice in Israel has said gay people have the right to become parents through surrogacy, giving campaigners hope of amending legislation that makes only a man and woman eligible.

However, a final ruling has been delayed for six months.finding a surrogate mother

Assistant Chief Justice Salim Joubran on Thursday told gay couples, single women and advocacy groups who petitioned the court that it was time for “widening access to surrogacy in Israel to additional family units which are not included today,” according to documents seen by AFP.

“I find it hard to agree with a situation which prevents single people and same-sex couples fulfilling their right to become parents through surrogacy agreements,” he said.

“I myself cannot see any justice in giving preference to heterosexual parenting over same-sex parenting,” added Joubran, whose comments in court came the same day as thousands attended a Gay Pride parade under police protection in Jerusalem.

But Joubran, in his last decision before retiring from the bench, postponed for six months a ruling on the suit, in order to allow a new draft law, currently before parliament, to be finalized.

“The time is not yet ripe to rule on the petitions in light of the legislative process in process in parliament,” he said.

The new bill has passed its first reading and is now before a committee preparing it for its second and third readings.

As it stands, the draft still bars same-sex couples and single gay men, but it would extend surrogacy to single women on condition that the host is genetically related to the woman whose eggs are implanted into her.

The judge said the bill was likely to be amended at the committee stage to reflect at least some of the concerns raised by the petitioners, and the court could then make its ruling based on the final document.

August 4, 2017

Click here to read the entire article.

In Breakthrough, Scientists Edit a Dangerous Mutation From Genes in Human Embryos

Scientists for the first time have successfully edited genes in human embryos to repair a common and serious disease-causing mutation, producing apparently healthy embryos, according to a study published on Wednesday.

The research marks a major milestone and, while a long way from clinical use, it raises the prospect that gene editing may one day protect babies from a variety of hereditary conditions.

But the achievement is also an example of genetic engineering, once feared and unthinkable, and is sure to renew ethical concerns that some might try to design babies with certain traits, like greater intelligence or athleticism.

The study, published in the journal Nature, comes just months after a national scientific committee recommended new guidelines for modifying embryos, easing blanket proscriptions but urging it be used only for dire medical problems.

“We’ve always said in the past gene editing shouldn’t be done, mostly because it couldn’t be done safely,” said Richard Hynes, a cancer researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who co-led the committee. “That’s still true, but now it looks like it’s going to be done safely soon,” he said, adding that the research is “a big breakthrough.”

“What our report said was, once the technical hurdles are cleared, then there will be societal issues that have to be considered and discussions that are going to have to happen. Now’s the time.”

Scientists at Oregon Health and Science University, with colleagues in California, China and South Korea, reported that they repaired dozens of embryos, fixing a mutation that causes a common heart condition that can lead to sudden death later in life.

If embryos with the repaired mutation were allowed to develop into babies, they would not only be disease-free but also would not transmit the disease to descendants.

The researchers averted two important safety problems: They produced embryos in which all cells — not just some — were mutation-free, and they avoided creating unwanted extra mutations.

“It feels a bit like a ‘one small step for (hu)mans, one giant leap for (hu)mankind’ moment,” Jennifer Doudna, a biochemist who helped discover the gene-editing method used, called CRISPR-Cas9, said in an email.

“I expect these results will be encouraging to those who hope to use human embryo editing for either research or eventual clinical purposes,” said Dr. Doudna, who was not involved in the study.

New York times – August 2, 201 – by Pam Belluck

Click here to read the entire article.

Estate Planning for Dummies – The Important Steps You May Have Already Taken

Estate Planning for Dummies explains the most basic estate planning tools, many of which you may have already implemented without even knowing it.

Estate planning for dummies is a misnomer.  Because the premise of this article is that you may have sufficient estate planning in place, you are clearly not dummies.  But understanding how to make the most of your estate plan, will ensure that you and your family are protected in case the unforeseen occurs.

Do I need a Will?”  This is usually the first question asked by clients.  The short answer is yes and, to better understand why, it is important to know the protections that a Will provides.  A Last Will and Testament is the cornerstone to a comprehensive estate plan.  Whether you have children or not you do have assets.  Depending on their size, more complex planning may be required.  But the key to knowing whether you have unwittingly begun work on your estate plan, you must know what property passes under a Will.estate planning basics

Probate Asset v. Non-Probate Assets

Wills cover probate assets, or assets held solely in your name. Examples include real property, bank accounts and personal belongings. Personal belongings are key because many people do not like the idea of a distant relative rooting through their most cherished items after death. Wills do not pass non-probate assets, or assets held jointly with someone else (like a bank account or real property held as a married couple or as joint tenants), assets held in trust for someone else or any asset that has a designated beneficiary, like an insurance policy, a 401(k) or an IRA retirement plan.

The goal of a good estate plan for a married couple is to maximize you non-probate asset designations.  If done correctly, there will be no need for a probate process upon the death of the first spouse.  Probate is the process by which the state of a decedent ensures that their Last Will and Testament was drafted and executed correctly, that the assets and debts of the decedent, the person who died, are identified, that the debts are paid and the assets are distributed according the decedent’s Will. The New York probate process governs the transfer of legal title of property from the estate of the person who has died to those named in that person’s Last Will and Testament.

If you are married and your home is listed in both spouses’ names, then the house will pass automatically to the surviving spouse with no need for probate.  Likewise, if you have joint bank accounts, the assets in those accounts pass outside of probate.

right of survivorship, JTWROS, joint tenantsMany city couples rent their apartments, making their most valuable assets their investment or retirement accounts.  For these investment vehicles, you may name your spouse, or partner if you are unmarried, as a designated beneficiary.  You may also name multiple designated beneficiaries as long as the percentage allocations are clear to the administrator of the investment/retirement account.

Estate planning for dummies = the maximization of non-probate asset designations.  It is the best tool you have to avoid probate.  And while this type of specific planning may allay the need for a Will, it is always a good idea to have a Will in place, even if you do not need to put that Will through probate.  If you are unmarried, it is of particular importance that you have a Will because the protections of marriage, which include naming the surviving spouse as the default beneficiary of a decedent’s assets, will not apply to you and your partner.

For more information, visit www.timeforfamilies.com or email Anthony@timeforfamilies.com.

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