Same-sex adoption is now legal everywhere in Australia

Same-sex couples can now adopt children anywhere in Australia.

The Northern Territory was the last region of the country holding out against the tide of progress – until this week.same-sex adoption

 In a historic move, lawmakers added amendments to the NT Adoption of Children Act which mean that same-sex couples – as well as de facto couples – can now legally adopt.

Before now, only straight couples were allowed this right.

The decision comes after the federal Parliament’s followed the country’s wishes – expressed in the overwhelming 62 to 38 percent result of the postal vote – by legalising equal marriage.

by Josh Jackman, PinkNews.co.uk, March 15, 2018

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Parents get to learn the power of patience

Sister Lil is the assistant principal at Aidan’s school. For a woman who never had progeny, she sure does know children.

On one of my exasperated days, when I had actually calculated Aidan’s math homework, so I knew it was done, and I told him three times that he had to hand in the assignment and he still didn’t turn it in, she smiled and said, “Thirty.”Patience

“Thirty what?” I asked, terrified that this was either a fundraiser or a penance I had incurred and forgotten.

“Thirty times. No matter what you want to teach a child, whether it be tying his shoes, or doing her homework or not burping in front of the nun. All children: boy/girl, black/white, special ed/gifted. You have to tell them 30 times. And on the 31st, they’ll learn it. And you know what you’ll learn in the meantime?

I shook my head.

“Patience.”

A deputy with whom I work walked into my office on Thursday, and let me know he needed to take some time off, as his only son had been diagnosed “on the autism spectrum.”

It’s hard to be grateful at times like this, but I started out with, “At least now you know.” For a long time, the Fisher-Paulsons didn’t know. We had confused ourselves with a normal family, only to find that there is no such thing as a normal family.

By Kevin Fisher-Paulson, San Francisco Chronicle – March 12, 2018

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Ga. governor signs LGBT ‘neutral’ adoption bill

Republican Gov. Nathan Deal of Georgia on Monday signed into law a comprehensive bill updating the state’s adoption law after he joined a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers in killing proposed changes that would have allowed adoptions by same-sex couples to be denied on religious grounds.

The Georgia General Assembly’s approval of the sweeping adoption reform bill, known as HB 159, which includes no restrictions against same-sex couple adoptions, appears to have been overshadowed by the passage by the Georgia Senate on Feb. 23 of a separate bill, the Keep Faith in Adoption and Foster Care Act, or SB 375.

That measure calls for allowing private adoption agencies receiving state funds to deny adoptions for certain couples or individual parents based on “sincerely held religious beliefs.” Legal experts say the bill’s language would allow faith-based adoption agencies to decline to approve an adoption for those with whom they disapprove, including single parents, unmarried couples and LGBT couples.

The bill would prohibit the state from defunding or penalizing a private adoption agency for making adoption decisions based on religious grounds.

Upon approval last month by the State Senate, SB 375 was sent to the House Judiciary Committee. A spokesperson for the committee’s chair, Rep. Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs), told the Washington Blade on Tuesday that Willard had yet to schedule a hearing for the bill due to the committee’s consideration of numerous other bills. The spokesperson said she didn’t know when or if Willard planned to call a hearing.

Under the Georgia General Assembly’s 2818 legislative session, any bill that isn’t fully approved by the state House and Senate by March 29 will be considered dead for the session.

Jen Ryan, a spokesperson for Deal, told the Blade in an email that the “governor’s office doesn’t comment on pending legislation.”

However, at least one source familiar with Deal and the Republican-controlled legislature said Deal and a number of prominent GOP lawmakers have made it known they oppose SB 375, among other things, because they believe its perception as a discriminatory law would hurt efforts to bring and retain large businesses in the state.

Deal made his views known on that score in 2016 when he vetoed a “religious liberties” bill that critics said would have given employers and landlords authority to discriminate against LGBT people on religious grounds.

Republican senators want to protect people with anti-gay beliefs with the First Amendment Defense Act

President Trump has promised to sign the First Amendment Defense Act into law

Twenty-two Republican U.S. senators have reintroduced the First Amendment Defense Act, a bill that would potentially allow people to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals or same-sex couples under the guise of “religious freedom,” reports The Hill.Discrimination

The bill would insulate any individual who holds “a sincerely held religious belief” opposing homosexuality, transgenderism, or same-sex marriage, or any business operated by an individual with such beliefs, from being penalized or punished by the government should they be found to have discriminated against such people.

As a result, it would prohibit the government from levying fines against people who discriminate, denying them government contracts, or taking away special tax breaks, so long as the person claims that their refusal to provide goods or services was motivated by their religious beliefs.

Critics have warned that the bill is so broadly written that it would not just condone discrimination against LGBTQ individuals and same-sex couples, but single mothers, divorcees, those who engage in premarital sex, or anyone else whose lifestyle does not comport with a person’s religious beliefs, no matter how radical or out-of-the-mainstream those beliefs may be.

The bill was sponsored and introduced by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), and co-sponsored by several prominent conservative senators, including Marco Rubio (Fla.), Ted Cruz (Texas), Orrin Hatch (Utah), Ron Johnson (Wis.), and Rand Paul (Ky.).

A similar iteration of the bill was introduced in both the House and Senate in 2015, but only received a hearing in the House. The measure failed to gain traction, and was eventually set aside by leadership amid protests from Democrats, and the realization that then-President Obama would veto the measure if it managed to pass Congress.

Lee had previously promised to reintroduce FADA after Donald Trump was elected president. Lee’s House counterpart, U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), now running to be the next governor of Idaho, said last he would introduce similar legislation in the House during the current session, but never did, according to a search of filed bills in Congress.

By John Riley, metro weekly.com, March 8, 2018

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First Dance – Groundbreaking Advertisement from Apple

First Dance is a moving and very emotional advertisement targeting the Australian market and coming at exactly the right time.

First Dance – In what can only be described as a seminal moment in advertising to a market that needs it the most, Apple has produced this beautiful commercial for the new iPhone X – First Dance – incorporating images shot on the phone itself of same-sex wedding ceremonies.  The music is by Courtney Barnett and the emotion is pure love.  

Thanks to Apple for making First Dance, a groundbreaking advertisement at such a crucial moment in history.  And welcome Australia to the world of marriage equality!

Song: “Never Tear Us Apart” by Courtney Barnett: https://apple.co/2BOEqci

LGBT Victory: Supreme Court Allows AZ Same-Sex Parents Decision to Stand

In Victory for LGBT Community, U.S. Supreme Court Allows Decision Ruling Married Same-Sex Parents and Married Different-Sex Parents Must be Treated Equally 

WASHINGTON, DC—The Supreme Court of the United States announced today that it will not review the decision in McLaughlin v. McLaughlin, an Arizona Supreme Court case that found a woman to be the legal parent of the child she and her same-sex spouse conceived through assisted reproduction during their marriage. The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), Arizona attorney Claudia Work, and Ropes & Gray LLP represented the mother who sought to be recognized as a parent in this case. Kennedy

As the Arizona Supreme Court recognized, the U.S. Supreme Court rulings in Obergefell v. Hodges and Pavan v. Smith require states to treat married same-sex parents and married different-sex parents equally under the law. The Arizona Supreme Court explained: “It would be inconsistent with Obergefell to conclude that same-sex couples can legally marry but states can then deny them the same benefits of marriage afforded opposite-sex couples.” 

“The U.S. Supreme Court has twice explained in Obergefell v. Hodges and Pavan v. Smith that the U.S. Constitution requires states to provide the exact same rights to same-sex spouses and different-sex spouses,” said NCLR Family Law Director Catherine Sakimura. “States across the country should take careful note of this decision. Discrimination against married same-sex couples will not be tolerated.”

NCLR – February 26, 2017

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Civil Rights Act Protects Gay Workers, Appeals Court Rules

A federal appeals court in Manhattan ruled on Monday that federal civil rights law bars employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation.

The case, which stemmed from the 2010 dismissal of a Long Island sky-diving instructor, was a setback for the Trump Justice Department, whose lawyers found themselves in the unusual position of arguing against government lawyers from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.Discrimination

The E.E.O.C. had argued that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which bars workplace discrimination based on “race, color, religion, sex or national origin,” protected gay employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

But the Trump Justice Department took the position that the law did not reach sexual orientation, and said the E.E.O.C. was “not speaking for the United States.”

The Justice Department and Altitude Express, the instructor’s employer, could seek review of the decision by the United States Supreme Court, although neither party had any immediate comment on the ruling.

In its decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit said, “We see no principled basis for recognizing a violation of Title VII for associational discrimination based on race but not on sex.”

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Georgia Senate passes anti-LGBTQ adoption bill

The Georgia Senate on Friday morning passed a bill that would allow adoption agencies to refuse to place children with same-sex couples based on their religious beliefs.

The bill would also prohibit the Georgia Department of Human Services from taking “adverse action” against such agencies. The bill passed along party lines 35-19 and will now head to the House for consideration.Georgia gay adoption

Senate Bill 375, called the “Keep Faith in Adoption and Foster Care Act,” was introduced earlier this month by state Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick), who added similar language to an adoption overhaul at the end of last year’s legislative session, causing the bill to stall. A Senate Judiciary sub-committee met on Feb. 8 to take up the bill, moving to send it on to the full committee, which passed the bill on Feb. 20.

Senators debated the bill for over an hour, and the 2015 Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage was a hot topic throughout, with several senators who support the bill quoting directly from the ruling.

Sen. Ligon and other supporters of the bill continued to try and make the case that passage of the bill would lead to more adoption opportunities in the state and not less.

“This bill does not prevent anyone from adopting,” Ligon said emphatically at one point.

Sen. Ligon and Sen. Jen Jordan (D-Atlanta), who beat an anti-LGBTQ Democratic opponent to win her state Senate seat in December, got into a lively discussion on the merits of the bill. Jordan questioned the need for the bill, confirming with Ligon that there are is no record of adoption agencies being discriminated against in Georgia because of their faith. Jordan then repeated a point brought up by State Sen. Elena Parent (D-Atlanta) during Tuesday morning’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing — that the concern these agencies have is based on a feeling rather than facts.

“It’s not based on feeling,” Ligon responded. “They want to have the assurance that they’ll be able to exercise their fundamental right to practice their faith.”

State Sen. Fran Millar (R-Atlanta) spoke in favor of the bill, saying that it would broaden opportunities for children in foster care.

“I’m tired of watching [the state] fail in certain areas and we have failed foster children,” Millar said. “The statistics [Ligon] read are true. If this broadens the opportunities for people to love them and raise them, then by God I’m going to vote for it.”

State Sen. Nan Orrock (D-Atlanta) pointed out that LGBTQ people also have religious beliefs.

by Patrick Saunders, gavotte.com, February 23, 2018

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Iowa court upholds enforceability of surrogacy contracts

Iowa Surrogacy – The birth mother of an 18-month-old girl who agreed to be paid as a surrogate to have the baby, is not legally the child’s parent, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled Friday in an emotional case that concluded surrogacy contracts can be enforced in Iowa.

The ruling means the girl remains with the Cedar Rapids couple, the only parents she has known since leaving the hospital after birth.

It was the first time the state’s highest court has weighed whether surrogacy contracts can be enforced.gay family law

But the fight isn’t over. The birth mother plans to appeal part of the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“I no longer believe that surrogacy contracts should be entered into,” said the woman identified in court documents only as T.B., in a statement provided by her attorney. “Every child should have a mother and an essential part of the mother-child relationship is the role of pregnancy and the bonding that takes place during it. Children should not be sold.”

The woman said she has taken no money for bearing the baby. The contract required her to relinquish custody and parental rights in exchange for being paid, but she said she didn’t agree to do so after her relationship with the couple deteriorated. She also said she concluded that payment for babies is wrong.

Iowa, like most states, has no clear law on surrogacy parenting, but a 1989 law making it a felony to sell an individual to another person specifically exempts surrogate mother arrangements. The law was passed after the New Jersey Supreme Court invalidated surrogacy contracts as contrary to the state’s “baby selling” prohibition on payment of money to adopt a child.

In that case, which received wide publicity as the Baby M case, Mary Beth Whitehead agreed to carry a baby for William and Elizabeth Stern for $10,000. The New Jersey court in invalidating the surrogacy contract awarded the Sterns custody but allowed Whitehead visitation.

The Iowa court concluded that the Iowa Legislature “tacitly approved of surrogacy arrangements by exempting them from potential criminal liability for selling children,” in response to the Baby M case.

The justices concluded gestational surrogacy agreements promote families “by enabling infertile couples to raise their own children and help bring new life into this world through willing surrogate mothers.”

“Banning gestational surrogacy contracts would deprive infertile couples of perhaps the only way to raise their own biological children and would limit the contractual rights of willing surrogates,” the court said in an opinion written by Justice Thomas Waterman.

Omaha World Herald via AP, February 17, 2018

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All Evidence Shows That Children of Gay Parents Do Just as Well as Their Peers

Multiple studies have been conducted over the years, countless research has been carried out and endless debates have been had, all to show one thing.

That the children of gay parents do just as well as the children of straight parents. The myth that kids need a mum and a dad to have a fulfilled childhood has been repeatedly, conclusively disproved – so why is it still so pervasive?studies show kid of gay parents do great

Such views are ultimately rooted in outdated notions of what constitutes a good upbringing, stemming from conservative ideals of the ‘nuclear family’, with a mum, a dad and 2.4 children. In many cases, objection to LGBT families is motivated by homophobia as well – a belief that there is something different, and therefore undesirable or lacking, about same-sex parenting. But last year, researchers conducted one of the most comprehensive studies into same-sex parenting that has ever been carried out.

Scientists looked into more than three decades worth of peer-reviewed research into how the children in same-sex-parented families did in comparison to their peers from opposite-sex-parented families. The wide-ranging study, published in the Medical Journal of Australia in October 2017, found what had already been shown in multiple previous studies – that the kids do just as well.

Among the studies reviewed were the 2017 public policy research portal at Columbia Law School in the US, which itself looked at 79 studies investigating the well-being of children raised by gay parents; a 2014 American Sociological Association review of more than 40 studies, which found that children fared just as well in a number of areas; and the Australian Institute of Family Studies’ review from 2013, which found that there was no evidence of harm.

Researchers behind the study, titled ‘The Kids are OK: it is Discrimination Not Same-Sex Parents that Harms Children’, said at the time: ‘The findings of these reviews reflects a broader consensus within the fields of family studies and psychology. It is family processes – parenting quality, parental wellbeing, the quality of and satisfaction with relationships in the family – rather than family structures that make a more meaningful difference to children’s wellbeing and positive development.’

They added that studies that had shown poor outcomes for LGBT-parented children had been widely criticised for their limited methodologies.

by Ashtitha Nagesh, February 18, 2018 – Metro.co.uk

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