Two dads, two babies and a $150,000 journey

Some gifts inspire short-lived exultation, others polite nods. 

Then there are the gifts that take your breath away, rewarding years of self-doubt, financial hardship and agonizing choices. They help you realize that you, like your squirming preemies wrapped in tubes, are not fragile but a fighter.

For Jeffrey and Brian Bernstein, a gay married couple living in a sleepy Philadelphia suburb, the gift of life was not a happy accident.

Growing their family required foresight, patience, herculean coordination with egg donors, surrogate brokers, fertility specialists and lawyers, along with a $150,000 nest egg.surrogacy

One day, when the Berstein twins inevitably ask about their mother, they will hear about the 24-year-old, raven-haired outdoor enthusiast who pumped herself full of hormones and provided her eggs anonymously. Then they will learn about the 31-year-old stay-at-home mom with the blonde bob, “Aunt Ashly,” who also injected hormones, lent her uterus and underwent a C-section seven weeks early.

Both women live in Texas, where surrogacy laws are considered progressive. Neither wants to be called “mom.”

“It’s important that we bring our children up with the understanding that their family, while they may be different, is just as valid, loving and caring,” explains Jeffrey, a fitness coach. 

“There’s nothing shameful in how our family came together.”

STORY: A child’s journey to ‘truegender’

Surrogacy dates to Biblical times when Abraham’s barren wife, Sarah, loaned her handmaid, Hagar, to her husband to procreate.

In recent decades, the practice of a woman carrying the biological child of another individual or couple for payment has raised thorny questions from feminists and religious conservatives alike about the exploitation of women and commodification of children.

Today, most countries around the world, including developing nations, ban commercial surrogacy. But the practice is still legal in the U.S., which has emerged as an in vitro fertilization hub for prospective parents at home and abroad. In nearly every state, surrogacy operates legally or underground. 

by Margie Fishman, The News Journal, June 16, 2017

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MY KIDS MAY NOT HAVE A DAD, BUT PLEASE DON’T FEEL SORRY FOR THEM ON FATHER’S DAY

“Who pretended to be Eva’s dad today?”

This question was asked by my 6-year-old daughter’s best friend. While few things shock me these days, I was taken back by his question. Eva’s best friend is also 6 and has known her and our two-mom family for almost as long as he has been alive.

“Eva doesn’t have a dad. She has two moms. You know that.” Before I could process why he asked his question, I answered him a bit too bluntly. He wasn’t attacking me, but I felt under attack — and my initial response was not one that helped him process what he wanted to understand.

“I know,” he said. “But who came to school for Dads and Donuts?”Florist

Father’s Day. I forgot that, much like for Mother’s Day, the schoolkids would be creating artwork and poems to send home. I forgot that some classrooms would be hosting breakfast for dads, roasting and honoring them at the same time. I forgot because I haven’t talked to my own father in nearly 20 years and Father’s Day is not on my radar. I forgot because I am up to my ears in end-of-the-school-year events and summer camp prep. I forgot because my kids don’t celebrate Father’s Day.

Shortly before our daughter turned 3, we began to talk to her about how she was created through love, her mama’s egg, and a sperm donor. She, and our 4-year-old twins, will proudly and correctly tell you they came from an egg and sperm. We don’t get into the logistics of how those two things met (doctor-assisted intrauterine insemination using frozen sperm for those of you who are curious). But we openly and honestly talk about how our family was made. Our kids will also tell you about their brother and sisters who live in another state; they are donor siblings who were born from the same anonymous sperm and whose parents we met through the cryobank’s sibling registry.

We know our kids feel loved, and that they are as proud of their family as any other children who are more focused on their own needs and wants than on the reflection of sacrifices made by their loving parents. Yet, as much as our kids are like any other kids, their normal is not “normal.” At least, not to some people. And when our kids meet new friends who are unaware that they have two moms, or when Father’s Day rolls around each year, they are not just reminded that they don’t have a dad — but that society expects them to have one.

Once I realized the motivation behind my daughter’s friend’s question, I softened. “Ah! Your dad came to school for Father’s Day donuts. Eva’s class didn’t host a breakfast. But she may have made something for her Pop-Pop.”

We have always told our kids’ teachers that when Father’s Day projects are being made that it’s okay to acknowledge that they will not be making one for a father of their own. They can make one for my partner’s father, their amazing Pop-Pop. Or they can make one for any one of a number of amazing friends and dads who are in our life. Just because they don’t have a father doesn’t mean we don’t have good men in our lives and great dads to celebrate.

by Amber Leventry, babble.com

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HOW TWO DADS ARE SHATTERING THE STIGMA AROUND GAY PARENTING IN THE SOUTH

Parenting is a tough enough job on its own.

Add to that the challenge of being accepted for what kind of a parent you are, and the whole thing can feel insurmountable. But that hasn’t stopped two dads in New Orleans from being extraordinary parents to their little girl.

Husbands Erik and Douglas Alexander have taken to Instagram and their blog NolaPapa to help create visibility around what it means to be positive, loving gay dads. After adopting their daughter Allie Mae in 2015, they wanted an outlet to reach out to other LGBTQ families and document their own family’s journey.

In the process of sharing their story, Erik and Douglas have become a beacon of hope for gay parents in the South.

After dating for almost 11 years, Erik and Douglas married in 2015 when Louisiana legalized same-sex marriage. And despite an expected 3-5 year waiting period, they were able to adopt their daughter Allie Mae in only a month and a half. Suddenly, their small suburban world changed as more and more people noticed their growing family. Their town is close to New Orleans, which is considered to be a very liberal city. But, according to Erik, “The 10-15 minutes it takes to get here takes you back in time about 30 years.”

Babble.com, April 7, 2017 by Lindsay Wolf

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The Children of Gay Parents Speak for Themselves

For the past five years, Gabriela Herman has been photographing and interviewing people from all over the country with one or more LGBTQ parent.

“My mom is gay,” she explained. “But it took me a long time to say those words out loud.” For Herman, coming to terms with her mother’s identity was a “raw and difficult time.” She had never met another person who was raised by a gay parent. “The topic was taboo even within our otherwise tight-knit family,” she said. “My younger siblings were dealing with the same emotions, but meaningful conversation eluded us.” Eventually she connected with COLAGE (Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere) and found a community of people who shared a similar childhood: the juggling of silence and isolation, the defending of parents on the playground. In many ways, the images and interviews in Herman’s essay The Kids seeks to fill that silence. The children of gay parents aren’t “hypothetical”: They’re real and they’re ok.gay parents adoption

  1.  Hope, raised in New York City by her two dads: “I would see my friend’s families and my aunts and uncles and I knew that people had something called a mother that I didn’t necessarily have, but I didn’t really think that I was so much in the minority. I wondered about my birth family and my birth mother in particular, but in terms of my own development, I don’t feel like I suffered because of it. I think that my parents did a fantastic job of helping to raise me to be a strong woman, but in terms of that question piece about where did I come from—sometimes I still wonder that, and then other times it just kinda disappears in terms of its importance.”
  2. Allison, raised in Connecticut and Vermont by her mom and her mom’s partner: “As soon as I found out [my new school] had a gay-straight alliance I just—it was amazing, to know that there are other kids my age—to realize that they were supportive of LGBT people. I wasn’t the only one who knew gay people and it wasn’t this dark secret that I had to hide.”
  3. Kerry, raised in New Jersey by her dad and mom, who came out when she was 11: “I remember a conversation with my mom where she was talking about how she would like to marry another woman. When I was really little I wanted to marry my best friend so I was like, ‘Oh, it’s like me and Sarah?’ She was like, ‘No, not like you and Sarah.’”
  4. Zack, raised in upstate New York by his two moms: “Everyone in my family is adopted. I had less trouble with two moms and more issues with finding myself, you know, with race and ethnicity.”

by Emily Ann Epstein, The Atlantic – March 6, 2017

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‘The both of us are his daddies’: Three surrogacy stories in Ireland

Legal uncertainty in Ireland has not stopped couples going abroad to create longed-for families

Three families in Ireland, three very different stories but one common thread – each couple has used a surrogate mother to give birth to their children.

Surrogacy is neither legal nor illegal in Ireland because it is not yet addressed in legislation. But that has not deterred an increasing number of couples who see it as the only way to create their longed-for family. While lawmakers here have deliberated for at least 10 years over the ramifications of surrogacy, these couples can’t wait and mostly go abroad to a country that has legislated for it.more gay couples are embracing surrogacy

There are undoubtedly legal and moral issues to be debated around surrogacy. But here, in the run-up to a Dublin conference hosted by the international not-for-profit Families Through Surrogacy, three couples tell how they moved beyond the abstract to make surrogacy part of their life story.

Neil McDonagh (28), Andrew Millar (27) and 14-week-old Oisín Millar-McDonagh live in Belfast

Partners for nine years, Neil McDonagh and Andrew Millar used to imagine what it would be like to raise a child – “like as if it was never going to happen”, says McDonagh.

But five years ago they began to think seriously about the “what if”. At the time, as a gay couple, adoption was not an option for them in the North so they looked into the possibility of being assessed in England for approval to adopt.

Not only was the process daunting but they were also keen to adopt a baby, and it was mostly older children who were being placed. They started to consider surrogacy.

They had just settled on doing it in Thailand when that country closed its programme to foreigners. That is the thing with international surrogacy, says McDonagh, “it is so fluid – one minute it’s okay and the next minute it’s not”. They considered Cambodia and Nepal but no sooner had they decided on the latter than the Himalayan country abruptly shut its surrogacy programme in September 2015.

“That really did set us back – it is an emotional roller coaster,” says McDonagh, originally from Dublin. They began to ask themselves should they accept that surrogacy wasn’t for them. However, their thoughts turned back to the UK where altruistic surrogacy is permitted.

When researching the possibility, they became part of an online network of parents and surrogates. They got to know a woman who had carried a baby for another couple and asked her if she was intending to do it again, would she consider them as parents? Three months later she said she was open to the idea and suggested the three of them meet.

The Irish Times by Sheila Wayman, February 25, 2016

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I Got Gay Married. I Got Gay Divorced. I Regret Both.

In 2008, gay marriage was so new, my wife and I had a hard time finding a lawyer to help us legally join our lives together.

In 2013, gay divorce was so new, I had a hard time finding a lawyer to take our marriage apart.

We fell in love in the ’90s, when getting legally married wasn’t something two women could do. We danced in the streets on May 15, 2008, when the California Supreme Court ruled that “an individual’s sexual orientation — like a person’s race or gender — does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights.”

And we decided to tie the knot ourselves the day before Election Day that year, when it suddenly seemed that California Proposition 8 was going to pass, banning same-sex marriage again.gay marriage

Beneath an arbor of grimy plastic ivy at the Alameda County Clerk-Recorder’s Office, we wept grateful tears as we swore to “love, honor, and keep each other, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live.”

Twenty-four hours later, Prop 8 did pass, changing the marital status of 18,000 same-sex California couples from “married” to “who knows?”

Also unknown: why the happiest day of our life together was one of our last happy days. Why nothing we tried — individual and marriage therapy, romantic vacations, trial separations — could fix us.

In 2013 I Googled “gay divorce lawyer” and found only “gay family law” attorneys. I called the one with the best Yelp reviews.

“I need to file for d — ” The word caught in my throat.

In many cities over many years, my wife and I had marched for marriage equality. We’d argued with the haters and we’d argued with the gay people who said that legal marriage would co-opt us, diminish us, turn us into a caricature of “normal” married people. We swore we could enjoy the rights only marriage conferred and still have our gender-fluid commitment ceremonies, our chosen-family configurations, our dexterity at turning friends into lovers and vice versa.

Divorce felt like more than a betrayal of my wedding vows. It was a betrayal of my people and our cause.

“Yours won’t be my first gay divorce,” the lawyer told me, “and I guarantee you, it won’t be my last.”

I asked how long it would take, and what it would cost. He couldn’t give me even a ballpark estimate. The laws were in such flux, he said, that both gay people who wanted to marry and gay people who wanted to divorce were twisting in the shifting winds.

When the lawyer and I had our first, $350-an-hour conversation, same-sex marriage was outlawed in 37 states and legal in 13 (and the District of Columbia). Change was the only constant, and each change increased the time (his) and money (mine) it cost to research its implications.

gay divorceMy case had a bonus complication. In 1999, before real marriage was available to us, my wife and I had registered as California domestic partners. Did we need a separate legal process to end that partnership? No one was sure.

I mailed the lawyer a big deposit. He emailed me a big stack of documents. On the first page, there it was: my wife’s name, right next to mine. The thrill of that triumph, of being a gay person with the legal recognition of a straight person, ran through me as it always had. Then I remembered that I was seeing it for the last time.

As the process unfolded over the next several months, I couldn’t help comparing my second divorce with my first, in 1983, from the father of my kids. That’s the one that should have been complicated. Like most straight married couples, my husband and I owned our stuff jointly — one bank account, two cars, one ranch house and everything in it. Most wrenchingly, we had two little boys whom neither of us could imagine living without for even a day. Yet our divorce, our property division and our custody agreement were all ironed out in a few meetings with a paralegal, whose services cost less than $1,000.

Like most early same-sex-marriage adopters, my wife and I had intermingled our hearts and lives but kept our finances and property separate. And yet I was in for a much longer, costlier contest.

On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court nullified the Defense of Marriage Act, granting federal benefits to all current same-sex marriages. Six months, dozens of notarized documents and many thousands of dollars into the process of getting divorced, because we hadn’t yet officially filed, my soon-to-be ex-wife and I were more married than ever.

New York Times – January 7, 2017 – by Meredith Maran

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Meet the Soon-to-Be 1st Trans Parents in South America

LGBT activist Diane Rodriguez and her boyfriend Fernando Machado are an Ecuadorian couple who are set to become South America’s first-known transgender parents. They recently announced their pregnancy which has received much support for the couple.trans couple

Rodriguez wrote in a Facebook post: “I’m going to be a mum, my boyfriend Fernando Machado is pregnant with me. After having spoken with my family, people who are very close to my life and social environment, I wish to make public one of the news that I think is the most important in my life and that of my partner, Fernando Machado.”

She added that she understood that the announcement would receive comments in favor and against the happy news, however, she believes the news is important for society to change and is something wonderful for her and her boyfriend to celebrate: “But as an activist and transsexual woman committed to a process of profound social transformation , I believe that public opinion must know this wonderful news : Fernando Machado and Diane Rodriguez will be mom and dad.”

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thenextfamily.com By Alex Temblador

ALEC MAPA AND JAMIE HEBERT: FAME, FAMILY, AND FOSTER CARE

“I was booked to perform at one of her R Family Vacations cruises in 2007,” recalls actor Alec Mapa, telling Gays With Kids that he and husband Jamie Hebert were surrounded by so many LGBT families that they just knew fatherhood was in the cards for them, too.

“I met a social worker on the ship specializing in helping LGBT families find foster-adopt placement,” Mapa continues, describing how he got her card and promptly lost it back on land in the junk drawer that is his garage. What happened next was kismet.

“So, when I was finally ready to call this woman, I realized that card was in a box somewhere in that garage! And I reached into a box, and the first thing I touched on was that card. We went to meet her at the Extraordinary Families agency, we took the foster-adopt courses … and nine months later we had a kid living in our house.”alec mapa

If you don’t know “America’s Favorite Gaysian,” you know his face: Mapa’s resume is catalog of critically-acclaimed comedy, from “Desperate Housewives” and “Ugly Betty” (where he played the hyperkinetic Suzuki St. Pierre) to “Devious Maids” and “The Gossip Queens.” He met producer Hebert on the set of his one-man show “Drama” in 2002 and the two have been an item ever since, marrying in 2008.

But this journey to fatherhood differs from most. When Zion came into their lives, he was the kind of kid most prospective parents don’t touch: He was African-American, he was a boy, and, at age five, he was old. Moreover, he was a foster-child, meaning his birthmother had not yet signed away her parental rights. To top it off, he had already been placed with four other families before Alec and Jamie got a hold of him.

“And were like, ‘This is our kid! We’re not giving him back!’” Mapa, 51, laughs. “Three months into our foster placement, he had the TPR — termination of parental rights — and nine months later, he was ours!”

Foster care and adoption are two different legal animals. The latter completely and permanently signs over the rights and responsibilities of the child from the birthparents to the adoptive parents. The child takes the surname of their new family and loses all automatic rights of inheritance with the old. A foster child can, and often does, maintain ties with their biological family even while in the care of another, and the biological parents have the final legal say in decisions concerning their child. Additionally, fostering lacks the permanency of adoption; children often shuffle from one foster family to another until they reach the age of 18, whereupon they are effectively cut loose.

For all the good intentions, it is no secret American foster care is overburdened, with up to 250,000 children entering yearly. It’s not all doom and gloom; 33 percent are back with their families within 11 months, and only seven percent of foster kids remain in care for more than five years. However, the longer a child stays in, the harder it is to get out. Chances for permanent placement drop drastically for children over five, siblings, children of color, and for self-identified LGBTQ youth. Some leave the system only after “aging out” of it, and can face the possibility of being family-less.

“The children in foster care deserve better,” says Rich Valenza, founder and CEO of Raise A Child, Inc., a foster-adopt advocacy and education resource for prospective LGBTQ parents (and for which Mapa is now a spokesperson). “Given the numbers, the solution to the foster care crisis is within reach and the answer is right here within the LGBT community.”

The numbers to which Valenza refers come from a 2013 study conducted by the Williams Institute, a think tank at UCLA Law, confirming no significant difference in children raised by straight and LGBTQ parents, and stated two million gay, lesbian, and bisexual people express an interest in foster parenting. That number dwarfs the 400,000 children in the American foster care system, 104,000 of whom are available for adoption as of this writing.

Adds Mapa, “When we were talking about adoption, I wanted a baby. And when we met Zion, he was five and that was a baby. When you are five, you still need your mommy, you still need your daddy. Or two guys with a really cute house!”

by GaysWithKids.com, August 1, 2016

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Why seeing my gay son enter parenthood with twins made our relationship stronger

Early last month, my husband and I became grandparents for the first time, when my son and his husband became the fathers of twins.

There is a plethora of options for a gay couple to explore when they are considering parenthood. Adoption? Co-parenting? Surrogacy? Who will donate the egg and/or sperm? What are the legalities? And where do you even start such a process?

I am so very grateful — perhaps relieved is a better word — that my son and his husband live in a city with a large LGBTQ population. This has meant that from the moment they knew they wanted to become parents, they had access to a wealth of knowledge and experience. This is knowledge and experience that my husband and I, for lack of personal experience, simply couldn’t help them with.

The conversations I had with my son and son-in-law while they were taking their Daddies & Papas 2B program at a local LGBTQ community centre in downtown Toronto were some of most intimate and emotional conversations I have ever had with him. The roles in our relationship were completely reversed: the child was teaching the parent.Twins

It was a special time in my relationship with my son, and I will always cherish it.

You know who was even happier than John and me about the thought of babies? Our own parents. My father lived long enough to see my son marry the man he loved, but never knew that he would be the first of our three boys to have children. Still, the twins now have three great-grandparents who are healthy, and so very proud to talk about — and advocate for — gay marriage and same-sex parenthood.

I got to watch my mother hold a newborn girl named after her, and her great-grandson, named for my son’s grandfather-in-law. She marvelled at their perfection, and talked about the modern miracle of these babies’ conception and births through the egg donation of my son-in-law’s sister, and the generosity of a surrogate mother who carried the twins healthily to term. It was one of the most perfect moments in my life.

Sharing love. Sharing challenges. Supporting one another. Sharing wonder. This is how we family.

My grandchildren were born in June, which also happens to be Pride Month. What will they know of the struggles that brought us to the place where their daddies could be legally married? Will they know why, when PFLAG – the national organization to help with issues of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression – walks down Yonge Street during the Pride Parade in Toronto, men and women who are watching the parade from the sidewalk hold each other and sob?

My grandchildren are the son and daughter of two men who love each other so much that they were willing to take on the challenge of creating a family of their own in a world where that can be difficult, and resistant to such a thing. Financially, it is overwhelming. The legal paperwork is daunting. The persistence, the determination, the multitude of conversations, considerations and decisions that they tackled to get to parenthood makes me hopeful for their children. These babies are so wanted, and so deeply loved.

The day the twins were born, at around five in the evening, my husband and I assumed new roles. Since then I’ve been thinking of all of the books I’ll read to the children, and the songs we’ll sing. I’ll teach them to bake their father’s favourite cookies. I’ll take them to Young People’s Theatre. We’ll hike and we’ll bike. My husband is building special kid-friendly farm scenes into his model train set. In other words, we’ll become like any other loving grandparents who hope to do right by their children’s children — with one particular difference.

One Saturday night earlier this month, a gunman walked into a nightclub in Orlando, Fla., reminding us that the world is still a dangerous place for LGBTQ people, and for the people who love them.

He reminded me that as a mother, as a grandmother, and most basically as a human being, I have a responsibility to fight homophobia and transphobia.

Of course I am an ally — but in order to call myself an ally I have to be an active one. In doing things like walking with PFLAG in Toronto’s annual Pride Parade and in writing about my family, I am taking a stand for my son and his husband. I am vocally supporting all of the same- sex marriages and partnerships and the “gayby babies” that may result from those relationships.

June 29, 2016 by Patti Paddle, TVO.org

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SCOTUS same-sex marriage ruling has allowed kids to have 2 legal parents, more stable homes and futures

When gay marriage became the law of the land last summer, Lin Quenzer and Barbara Baier were one of numerous gay couples in Nebraska eager to wed.

However, after 27 years together, a wedding cake and a marriage certificate weren’t their top priority. It was their son. They needed to wed to ensure their teenager would be legally bound to both parents for a lifetime and beyond — from every form that required a parental signature to each woman’s last will and testament.

After their summer wedding, the couple’s attorney immediately began drawing up adoption papers. A little over three months later, Robert Quenzer-Baier, then 15, was legally recognized as Quenzer’s son.

“He cried, we cried. We took pictures. It just meant the world to him. … He said ‘Nothing can take us apart now,’ ” recalled Quenzer, who is the Lincoln city ombudsman.

It was exactly a year ago today that the U.S. Supreme Court issued its historic same-sex marriage ruling, known as Obergefell v. Hodges. The ruling ended decades of debate and one of the biggest culture wars in America. It gave every gay couple in all 50 states the right to walk down the aisle.

But, as Quenzer’s adoption proceeding showed, the ruling had implications far beyond marriage. One of its greatest impacts was on the children of same-sex couples, many of whom were legally tied to only one parent because states such as Nebraska prohibited unmarried couples from adopting a child together.

Nebraska was one of the 13 states that did not allow gay marriage when the high court ruling came down. It had been legalized in the nation’s other states through a patchwork of court or legislative actions. In neighboring Iowa, for example, gay marriage had been legal since 2009 because of an Iowa Supreme Court decision.

On the day of the ruling, some Nebraska couples rushed to their local county clerk’s offices to secure marriage licenses. For a few days, gay marriage ceremonies were a novelty on the wedding circuit.

Some people continue to oppose such unions. But for many people — especially among the nation’s younger generation — same-sex marriages have become an accepted fact of life.

It is hard to know exactly how many same-sex couples married in the wake of the court ruling. States like Nebraska do not keep statistics for gay or straight marriages.

In Douglas County, workers in the County Clerk’s Office kept track of the number of same-sex unions for about the first six months. After that, they stopped.marriage equality

“It’s kind of amazing that, once it happened, it’s really just like any other couple,” said County Clerk Dan Esch. No one in his office even bats an eye these days.

However, Esch and his staff did go back and come up with a tally in anticipation of today’s anniversary. Over the past year, through June 13, the county had issued 173 same-sex marriage licenses — just a fraction of the nearly 4,000 marriage licenses issued overall in Douglas County during that time period.

Nationwide it is estimated there have been 123,000 same-sex marriages since the ruling, according to a Gallup survey.

Last year’s court decision hasn’t ended the nation’s culture wars, of course. But today’s battles are more about what’s happening in bathrooms and bakeries than in bedrooms and courthouses.

Laws have been introduced over the past year that would, among other things, compel transgender people to use the bathroom that conforms with their gender at birth or protect bakers from having to make a cake for a same-sex union.

“The fight to preserve religious liberty is the first critical battle of the post-Obergefell era,” according to a report filed this past week by the Family Leader, an Iowa organization that opposes same-sex marriage.

The gay community sees the baker and bathroom debates as “manufactured” fights so that anti-gay groups can remain relevant, now that the high court has settled the marriage debate. “It’s the last gasp of the dying beast. They’re grabbing for things,” said Donna Red Wing, executive director of One Iowa, an LGBT rights advocacy organization in Iowa.

As with same-sex marriage statistics, it is hard to know exactly how many children have been adopted by same-sex couples since the ruling. Adoptions are done by individual courts, which do not keep track.

However, several lawyers in Nebraska said they have worked with same-sex couples eager to adopt their son or daughter in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

“I’ve personally worked on eight to 10 step-parent adoptions, where the same-sex spouse has been able to adopt children who for all intents and purposes was that person’s child,” said Susan Sapp, a Lincoln attorney. “They were very relieved. Whether you agree or disagree with the marriage decision, there were existing families where children didn’t have legal stability.”

In states such as Nebraska, these families that were created with the help of sperm donors, single-parent adoption or other procreation routes were in legal limbo. The state did not allow non-married couples to adopt children. Given the state’s ban on same-sex marriages, that policy was essentially a ban on gay adoptions as well.

That meant that children of these unions did not have all the same protections afforded to other children. In the event of a parent’s death, the child was not legally viewed as an heir to the non-legal parent. And the non-legal parent had no inherent right to the child. In the event of a separation, one parent could deny — or attempt to deny — visitation to the other. Or one of the two parents could walk away without being responsible for child support.

There were few legal guarantees afforded to such families.

June 26, 2016

By Robynn Tysver / World-Herald staff writer – Omaha.com

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