Gay and in Love at an Evangelical College

A man tortured in Chechnya for being gay dares to go public with his story

For the first time since gruesome accounts of the systematic detention and torture of gay men began leaking out of Russia’s republic of Chechnya, a young man has gone public with his story.

Maxim Lapunov, 30, told reporters on Monday that he was demanding justice from the Russian government for the 12 days he spent locked in a blood-soaked jail cell, led out daily with a plastic bag over his head to be beaten by police officers demanding he confess to being gay.Chechnya victim

Human rights activists and journalists say that up to 100 people, mainly young gay men, were caught up in what has been called a “gay pogrom” carried out by Chechen police and officials earlier this year. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has denied the campaign of violence, saying that Chechnya “has no gays.”

Lapunov, who moved to Chechnya in 2015 and made a living as an entertainer, said he was selling balloons in March near a mall in Grozny, Chechnya’s capital, when he was detained by plainclothes police officers and forced into a car. He was driven to a police station.

“The charge was that I am gay,” Lapunov, dressed in a white T-shirt and blue cardigan, told reporters on Monday in a news conference at the Novaya Gazeta newspaper, which has published several explosive reports on the alleged torture of gay men in Chechnya. 

When he refused a confession, he was led into a jail cell soaked with fresh blood, where he could hear “screams and groans” coming from somewhere in the bowels of the police station. Officers placed a plastic bag over his head with just a hole to breathe through, led him to an interrogation room, and forced his face against a wall and beat his “legs, hips, buttocks, back,” he said. “They would stop briefly just to let me breathe. They made me get up when I was falling, and it went on and on.”

“I thought they would kill me no matter what happened,” he said, wiping away tears. 

Lapunov, who is ethnically Russian, is the first person to make a formal complaint to Russia’s powerful Investigative Committee challenging a government narrative that the “gay pogrom” in Chechnya never existed because no victims have come forward. Tanya Lokshina, the local head for Human Rights Watch, said that ethnic Chechen victims have been resistant to go public because of fear of retribution by their families.

by Andrew Roth – Washington Post, October 16, 2017

Click here to read the entire article.

LGBT activists worry about Trump impact in Africa

Gay rights activist Joseph Achille Tiedjou is worried every day that he will be harassed or arrested in Cameroon.

Defending LGBT rights can be dangerous in Africa, where many countries have laws against homosexuality. But in recent years activists have stepped out of the shadows, empowered by the support of the Obama administration and the international community.Africa Gay

Now many fear the Trump administration will undermine those gains, and that their exposure could make them more vulnerable if support fades.

“I have so many worries with the new administration,” the 32-year-old Tiedjou said, pointing out Trump’s ban on transgender people in the U.S. military. “Obama was known to be very engaged. Hillary Clinton was a champion of LGBT rights and made many guarantees in addressing these issues specifically.”

Obama’s administration made LGBT rights a major domestic and foreign policy, though some in Africa saw it as pushing “Western ideals.” The Obama administration also created a special envoy position on LGBT rights. The Trump administration has said it will keep the post, but concerns remain.

“The difference with the previous administration was that the rights of LGBT people were explicitly part of foreign policy. So LGBT groups around the world could absolutely rely on the moral and, indeed, material support that came from the U.S. government and that made a huge difference,” said Graeme Reid, director of Human Rights Watch’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Program. “Under this administration, we are no longer going to be seeing that proactive engagement around LGBT rights.”

Though the Trump administration’s overseas policies on LGBT rights remain to be seen, the erosion of domestic advances directly undermines the authority of the U.S. to speak out internationally, Reid said. He cited the pushback against federal protections and the appointment of “openly homophobic officials” to senior government positions.

The U.S. recently joined a dozen other countries to vote against a U.N. Human Rights Council resolution that urged countries not to use the death penalty for specific forms of conduct, including consensual same-sex relations. State Departmentspokeswoman Heather Nauert said the vote was made “because of broader concerns with the resolution’s approach in condemning the death penalty in all circumstances” but said the U.S. “unequivocally condemns the application of the death penalty for conduct such as homosexuality.”

Same-sex acts are illegal in more than 33 African countries and can lead to death sentences in parts of at least four, including Mauritania, Sudan, northern Nigeria and southern Somalia, according to Amnesty International.

Homosexuality is criminalized in the East African countries of Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. In Tanzania, authorities recently stopped health providers from non-governmental organizations from providing services to LGBT people.

In Cameroon, a strong ally of the U.S. in the fight against extremism, Human Rights Watch has documented high levels of arrests of LGBT people.

October 15, 2017 – By CARLEY PETESCH, ASSOCIATED PRESS

Click here to read the entire article.

Did National Park Service Disrespect the Rainbow Flag?

A ceremony dedicating a rainbow flag flying near New York City’s Stonewall Inn went off today with some controversy over the National Park Service’s participation — or lack thereof.

The bar is known for the series of uprisings against police raids in 1969, a reaction that helped birth the modern LGBT rights movement. An area near the nightclub was designated a National Monument, under Park Service management, by President Barack Obama in 2016, reflecting the site’s historic significance. The Stonewall itself remains a working bar under private ownership. gay hate

The rainbow flag, symbolizing LGBT pride, went up September 28, and the dedication ceremony was scheduled for today, which is National Coming Out Day as well as the 30th anniversary of the 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. The Park Service was set to take part in the ceremony, along with several LGBT activists, but pulled out as the day approached, drawing criticism from organizers.

Newsweek ran an article about the dedication last week, and it included quotes from some organizers denouncing the anti-LGBT actions of Donald Trump and his administration. By Friday night, a National Park Service flag flying alongside the rainbow flag had been removed and replaced with a New York City Parks flag, organizer Ken Kidd told The Washington Post. Then Barbara Applebaum, the Park Service official who was to speak at the ceremony, canceled.

“Since planning began this past summer, the NPS had been wholly cooperative,” Kidd said in a press release. “This abrupt turnaround as well as the NPS distancing itself from this event is more evidence of the Trump administration’s campaign to reduce LGBT people to second-class American citizens. It’s no coincidence that this comes on the heels of Attorney General [Jeff] Sessions’s support of religious rights over LGBT civil rights.”

A Park Service official, however, said the issue was whether the flagpole was on city property or NPS property. Jon Laird, commissioner of the National Parks of New York Harbor, told the Postthe NPS determined that the pole was on city land, not the area that constitutes the park. “We did send mixed signals here, which was very unfortunate,” he told the paper. “It became a much bigger deal than we ever expected.”

Applebaum ended up changing her schedule so she could attend the ceremony, and Laird was there as well. He offered to speak, but organizers turned him away. “We said, no, you will not speak,” longtime activist Ann Northrop, who emceed the ceremony, told the Post. “This is completely just mean-spirited bigotry on their part, to find a technicality to pull out of what they had already agreed upon and worked on for a week.”

Laird denied that bigotry was involved and said no officials in Washington had raised concerns about the flag dedication, according to the Post. The rainbow flag, he emphasized, has never been taken down, and the NPS has donated it to the city. “It’s still up, it’s still flying there,” Laird said of the flag. “Visitors to Stonewall National Monument will see it, and 99 percent of them will not care if it’s on our property or [the city’s] property.”

Advocate.com, October 11, 2017

Click here to read the entire article.

Coming Out in the Trump Era

National Coming Out Day. More important than ever.

Our country feels very different than it did a year ago on the last National Coming Out Day, when the prospect of an LGBTQ-friendly president was still possible. Now, however, the day feels even more like a time for activism and resistance.adoption and surroagcy

As Harvey Milk said, “Coming out is the most political thing you can do.” It is also, of course, one of the most personal. And while some of us may be out to a degree that lets us feel comfortable joining resistance marches, calling our elected officials, or writing op-eds to our local papers, others of us may not. As parents, we may fear the loss of a job that feeds our kids or worry that our kids will be bullied or harassed because of their parents. We may worry about being turned away by child service agencies. Personal and family safety and security is vital, and I cannot tell anyone to ignore that.

Mombian.com, by Dana Rudolph – October 11, 2017

Click here to read the entire article.

11th Circuit Denies Tax Deduction For Gay Man’s Reproductive Expenses

11th Circuit Denies Tax Deduction For Gay Man’s Reproductive Expenses

The Issue

Joseph Morrissey is a law professor at Stetson University in Florida.  I suppose that makes him a Florida man, but I resolved to pass on that trope for this decision. He and his male partner decided to have children with Mr. Morrissey serving as the biological father. All told they spent over $100,000 on the process.  In 2011, the year at issue, nearly $57,000 was spent.  He did not claim the amount as a medical deduction on his original return.  Rather he filed an amended return and then sued in District Court when the IRS turned down his refund claim.LGBT Legal

I’m thinking that Mr. Morrissey, who teaches Constitutional Law, is in this for the principle of the thing rather than the money.  A $9.539 refund is pretty low stakes for this kind of legal work.  He might have made it to the 11th Circuit by claiming the deductions on his original return and then going to Tax Court, which based on the Magdalin decision would likely have ruled against him.  There is very good chance, though, that his deduction would have just sailed through on an original return.  He would have had his nine grand, but not the chance to make history.

 

The Law

The definition of medical care contained in Code Section 213(d)(1)(A) is amounts paid – “for the diagnosis, cure mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, or for the purpose of affecting any structure or function of the body” That definition  comes to us, word for word, from the Revenue Act of 1942 (section designation is different as the Code was reorganized in 1954).  In 1942, you could find a more advanced version of contemporary reproductive technology in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, but in the real world not so much, unless you count “in vivo” artificial insemination which is reported as early as 1884 in people and 1780 in animals.  Regardless, we can be pretty certain little thought went into the topic of whether surrogacy should be included, when the definition was crafted in 1942.

Kevin Newsom,  President Trump’s recent appointee to the Eleventh Circuit has managed to disappoint a major LGBT organization with his very first decision. In Morrissey v United States Judge Newsom wrote :

Was the money that a homosexual man paid to father children through in vitro fertilization—and in particular, to identify, retain, compensate, and care for the women who served as an egg donor and a gestational surrogate—spent “for the purpose of affecting” his body’s reproductive “function” within the meaning of I.R.C. § 213? And second: In answering the statutory question “no,” and thus in disallowing the taxpayer’s deduction of his IVF-related expenses, did the IRS violate his right to equal protection of the laws either by infringing a “fundamental right” or by engaging in unconstitutional discrimination?

We hold that the costs of the IVF-related procedures at issue were not paid for the purpose of affecting the taxpayer’s own reproductive function—and therefore are not deductible—and that the IRS did not violate the Constitution in disallowing the deduction.

Mary Bonauto, Civil Rights Project Director of GLAD (GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders) wrote me:

We think the court got it wrong. Medically assisted reproduction has become necessary for many couples to have children. When a couple cannot have a child together, the IRS has recognized that medical treatments for reproduction and family building are deductible medical expenses. In family law, many states look beyond genetics to factors like intent and conduct in assessing legal parentage. And in Obergefell, the Supreme Court linked same-sex couples’ right to marry to the ability to exercise associated rights like having and raising children.

Mississippi anti-LGBT ‘religious freedom’ law takes effect

A Mississippi law enabling sweeping anti-LGBT discrimination in the name of “religious freedom” took effect Tuesday as a result of a federal appeals court decision throwing out a legal challenge to the statute.

The law, House Bill 1523, was signed by Gov. Phil Bryant last year in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage nationwide. The purported intent of the law is to protect individuals who have religious beliefs contrary to the ruling, but the measure approaches that in a way that would allow anti-LGBT discrimination.anti-lgbt

The law prohibits the state from taking action against religious organizations that decline employment, housing or services to same-sex couples; families who’ve adopted a foster child and wish to act in opposition to same-sex marriage and individuals who offer wedding services and decline to facilitate a same-sex wedding.

Additionally, the bill allows individuals working in medical services to decline a transgender person’s request for gender reassignment surgery. The bill also allows state government employees who facilitate marriages the option to opt out of issuing licenses to same-sex couples, but the person must issue prior written notice to the state government and a clerk’s office must not delay the issuance of licenses.

Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, spelled out the potential consequences of the law in a statement on the day it went into effect.

“The insidious power of a law like this is that it casts a long shadow over public life, forcing someone to assess whether they will be treated fairly and respectfully in situations from the crisis of an emergency room to an anniversary dinner at a restaurant to a child’s classroom,” Beach-Ferrara said. “Now we face the cruel reality of the law going into effect and the imminent threat it poses to the dignity, health and well-being of LGBT Mississippians.”

Last month, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals refused to reconsider “en banc” before the full court an earlier decision by a three-judge panel to throw out legal challenges to the law — one filed by the Campaign for Southern Equality, the other by the Joshua Generation Metropolitan Community Church and 13 Mississippi ministers,

The three-judge panel determined plaintiffs in the lawsuit lacked standing to challenge the law, reversing the trial court ruling that found HB 1523 violated the Establishment Clause by allowing state-sanctioned discrimination under one particular religious view.

GLAAD CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement the fight against the law continues despite its harmful effects on LGBT people.

By Chris Johnson, Washington Blade – October 10, 2017

Click here to read the entire article.

Is there a Marital Presumption for Male Couples in New York?

Is there marital presumption for male couples in New York?  Recent case law suggests that we are heading in that direction.

Is there marital presumption for male couples in New York?  Up until now, there has been no clear guidance on this.  While certain NY jurisdictions have held that the marital presumption of parentage exists for lesbian couples, male couples who have their children with the assistance of a surrogate mother, or gestational carrier, have not had specific judicial input… until now.marital presumption for male couples in New York

Before I discuss the details of the case, entitled In re Maria Irene D., it is important to understand the judicial reach it has and the implications of that for couples throughout New York State.  This case originates from an appeal made from a New York County Family Court decision granting a second parent adoption.  That appeal was heard in the Appellate Division, First Department, which hears appeals from cases in New York County and the Bronx only.  Therefore, until appealed to the New York Court of Appeals (our highest court), it only creates precedent for the Bronx and New York Counties.  Other NY counties may cite the case as a reference, but are not bound by its findings.

In re Maria Irene D. involves a child born in September 2014 to a gay couple, Marco and Ming.  Marco and Ming entered into a civil union in the UK in 2008 and converted that to a marriage in 2015.  Their daughter was born with the help of a surrogate mother who gave birth in Missouri.  Because both fathers were British citizens, and due to the law in the UK surrounding the legality of surrogacy, the couple obtained a parentage order in Missouri that terminated the rights of both the surrogate mother and egg donor and awarded Marco, the genetic father, “sole and exclusive” custody of the child.  In many cases, a pre or post birth order will list both intended parents as legal parents, but because the couple planned to secure UK citizenship for the child at some point after her birth, the parentage order could only list the genetic father.

Marco and Ming, along with their daughter, moved back to Florida, where they had been living, and stayed there as a family until October of 2015.  At some point after the birth of the child, Marco began a relationship with a man named Carlos and his relationship with Ming failed.  Ming had moved back to the UK in October of 2015 to find employment.  Carlos filed a petition of adoption with the New York County Family Court in January of 2016 and the petition was granted in May of 2016.

marital presumption for male couples in New YorkAdoption petitions ask one very important question, whether the child is subject to any proceeding affecting his or her custody or status.  In this matter, Carlos and Marco failed to disclose that, at the time of the child’s birth, both Marco and Ming had signed the surrogacy agreement together as a married couple.  Also, Ming had started a divorce proceeding seeking joint custody of the child prior to the finalization of the adoption.  Carlos and Marco failed to disclose that to the court as well.

The court held that there were two important reasons for overturning the adoption granted by the New York County family Court to Carlos: that Ming and Marco were considered legally married by the court at the time the time they began their surrogacy journey and at the time of the birth of the child.  Their daughter was, essentially, born in wedlock; therefore, Ming was entitled to notice of the adoption proceedings.  The court also faulted Carlos and Marco for failing to disclose the relevant information that there was a court proceeding filed by Ming in Florida that affected the custody of the child.

So does the marital presumption for male couples in New York protect a separated parent from losing custody of their child?  In this case, yes.  What we do not know is whether the fact that Carlos and Marco’s failure to disclose vital information in their adoption petition was the driving factor in the court’s decision, or whether it was the marriage of Marco and Ming.

With this information, male couples in NY may be struggling with whether to secure their parental relationships through second or step parent adoption.  Because the players in this drama were foreign nationals, different rules applied to how parentage was established immediately following the birth of their child.  Most US couples who have children through surrogacy can obtain parentage orders that create parentage for both fathers depending on the State where their child is born.  This decision is certainly a step in the right direction but married NY couples should also consider step parent adoption as a means to create unassailable parental rights that are portable across the country and around the world.  While the second/step parent adoption process is comprehensive and time consuming, it is worth it when you think about how much may be spent defending your right to your child born through surrogacy.

Anthony M. Brown, head of Family and Estates division of Chianese & Reilly Law, PC and has extensive experience in helping same-sex couples through the adoption process, having gone through the process himself. If you have yet to create a legal relationship with your child or children, call 212-953-6447 or email Anthony at Anthony@timeforfamilies.com.

Contact Time For Families

Contact Form
* indicates required field

The evolution of LGBT parenting in the UK: Celebrating a decade of change

Insights in LGBT Parenting in the UK

In the UK, we’re fortunate to live in an open-minded inclusive society, but the law has not always reflected that – as recently as the 1990s, UK legislation actively discriminated against non-traditional families seeking fertility treatment to become parents. But the past 15 years spans a legal and social revolution for same-sex parents, and it is now easier than ever before for LGBT parents to start a family in the UK.lgbt parenting in the UK

As the UK marks the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality (following the Sexual Offences Act 1967), here is an overview of some of the key milestones in the journey to increase access to family-building options for same-sex couples:

1990: the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act introduced regulation for UK fertility clinics. Under the new law, fertility clinics had to consider a child’s ‘need for a father’ before offering treatment, aiming to restrict fertility treatment for single women and lesbian couples.

2004: the Civil Partnership Act created – in all but name – marriage for same-sex couples, giving property, pension, inheritance and other benefits to couples who registered as civil partners.

2005: same-sex partners were allowed to adopt their partner’s children, and couples were allowed to adopt unrelated children together. For the first time, children in the UK could have legal parents of the same sex.

2008: following a review of 1990 laws, fertility clinics no longer had to consider the child’s “need for a father”, and it was made clear they should not discriminate against same-sex couples. New parenthood laws also enabled female same-sex couples to be recorded on their children’s birth certificates together if they conceived through sperm donation, and enabled male same-sex couples to apply for a parental order (giving them a birth certificate recording them both as their child’s legal parents) if they conceived through surrogacy.

2015: same-sex parents with a child born through surrogacy were given the right to adoption leave (so that one parent could claim the equivalent to maternity leave and pay, and the other paternity leave and pay).

2016: a key High Court decision ruled that the law discriminated unfairly against single parents who conceived through surrogacy. In response, the government announced plans to change the law to allow single parents – as well as couples – to become the legal parents of a child born through surrogacy.

What does the future hold?

We have come a long way over the past 15 years, but we are not quite there yet. There remains problems with the law on surrogacy, and for birth certificates for transgender and multiple-parent families.

by Natalie Gamble – gaystarnews.com, September 29, 2017

Click here to read the entire article.

Same-Sex Couples Wed in Germany as Marriage Law Takes Effect

Cheers rang out in the City Hall of Berlin’s Schöneberg district on Sunday as two men, who met 38 years ago, when the German capital was a divided city, became the country’s first same-sex couple to legally marry.

The couple, Bodo Mende, 60, and Karl Kreile, 59, were wed in a civil ceremony, surrounded by a crush of photographers and television cameras eager to capture the historic moment.

Not even the crying of a child among the relatives and friends who attended the event interrupted their joy as the couple exchanged a long kiss after they were pronounced husband and husband.

“This is an emotional moment with great symbolism,” Mr. Kreile told reporters before the event. “The transition to the term ‘marriage’ shows that the German state recognizes us as real equals.”

In June, Germany became the 15th European country to grant same-sex couples the right to marry, after a swift vote in Parliament that followed a brief but emotional debate. A previous German law had allowed civil unions between same-sex couples since 2001, but those unions did not offer couples the same legal rights and were considered by many to be a second-class form of marriage.

Across the country, city halls that are normally closed on the weekend opened their doors to allow marriages on the first day the law took effect. Dozens of couples were expected to exchange vows in Berlin, as well as in Cologne, Hamburg, Hanover and Kiel on Sunday and the days beyond.

by Mellisa Eddy – New York Times, October 1, 2017

Click here to read the entire article.