Working with LGBT couples and families – Nicholas has two dads

This series of videos tell my and my husband’s story of how we came to the decision to be parents and how it changes our lives with a magical New York story.  I do believe in miracles.

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 my dedication to my family and why Nicholas has two dads.

timeforfamilies.com

Working with non profits and how it changed my life – The Wedding Party and Men Having Babies

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 my dedication to non-profit work and how it has tracked my own personal life.

These series of videos tell my story and why giving back to my community makes me a better lawyer and a better citizen.  I hope that you enjoy this series as much as I have enjoyed living it.

Property Columbia teacher’s College and rights were granted to TimeForFamilies.com to post these for your viewing.

 

HOYLMAN ANNOUNCES COMMITTEE PASSAGE OF BILL TO LEGALIZE SURROGACY IN NEW YORK

 
S.17A, the Child-Parent Security Act, would legalize enforceable gestational surrogacy agreements in New York State

Hoylman: Becoming a parent should be a joyous occasion, not an illegal act. We need to legalize and regulate surrogacy contracts sensibly.”

ALBANY – State Senator Brad Hoylman (D, WF-Manhattan), Ranking Member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced passage today of his bill (S.17A) to lift the ban on compensated surrogacy through committee. Currently, New York is only one of five states where compensated surrogacy is illegal, along with Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey, and Washington.gay dads

State Senator Brad Hoylman said: “For decades, New York law has been stuck in the dark ages on surrogacy. While the science on reproductive technology has advanced, our laws haven’t. The infamous ‘Baby M’ case led to a complete ban on surrogacy in New York. But now, thanks to in vitro fertilization, surrogates carry babies who are not genetically related to them, technology that wasn’t available at the time of Baby M. 

“As the proud father of a child born through surrogacy in California (and another on the way!) where it’s legal, I’ve experienced firsthand the need to provide the option of surrogacy to New Yorkers and establish laws to protect all the parties in a surrogacy arrangement, including the gamete donors, surrogates, intended parents and unborn children. Becoming a parent should be a joyous occasion, not an illegal act. We need to legalize and regulate compensated surrogacy contracts sensibly. 

“I thank my colleagues on the committee and look forward to working with them to pass this important piece of legislation through the full Senate.”

Hoylman’s legislation, the Child-Parent Security Act (S.17A), which he carries along with Assemblymember Amy Paulin (D-Westchester), would permit legally enforceable compensated gestational surrogacy agreements, allow individuals to obtain a “Judgement of Parentage” from a court prior to the birth of the child to establish legal parentage, and establish firm legal protections for both parents and surrogates.

May 23, 2017 – by Brad Hoylman

Click here to read the entire release.

Governor Signs ‘Religious Freedom’ Law Allowing Adoption Agencies to Discriminate Against Gay Couples

‘This Bill Is Not About Discrimination, but Instead Protects the Ability of Religious Agencies to Place Vulnerable Children in a Permanent Home’ Governor Says, Falsely

Alabama’s newly-elevated governor has just signed into law legislation that allows adoption agencies to cite their “sincerely-held religious beliefs” as a reason to ban same-sex couples from adopting. Republican Kay Ivey took office last month when embattled governor Robert Bentley was forced to resign amid a sex and finance scandal.

“The need for adoption is so high. We need to have every avenue available,” State Senator Bill Hightower said of his bill allowing adoption agencies a religious license to discriminate.Discrimination

The Alabama Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act, also known as HB24, would even allow adoption agencies to cite its “sincerely held religious beliefs” and refuse to place children with blood relatives. As HRC noted last month, even a “qualified, loving LGBTQ grandparent, for example, could be deemed unsuitable under the proposed law.””I ultimately signed House Hill 24 because it ensures hundreds of children can continue to find ‘forever homes’ through religiously-affiliated adoption agencies. This bill is not about discrimination, but instead protects the ability of religious agencies to place vulnerable children in a permanent home,” Gov. Ivey said.

By David Badash, thenewcivilrightsmovement.com, May 3, 2017

Click here to read the entire article.

As Mexican State Limits Surrogacy, Global System Is Further Strained

After years of longing and a mountain of expense, Michael Theologos became a father in December, when a surrogate mother gave birth to his son in a clinic in this tropical town. Mr. Theologos wept as he cut the umbilical cord.

VILLAHERMOSA, Mexico — Then the trouble began.

The next day, officials arrived at the hospital and took the baby, Alexandros, into custody. They said Mr. Theologos, a New York City resident, had broken a new law that bars surrogate mothers here in Tabasco State from bearing children for foreigners.

Mr. Theologos, 59, did not see Alexandros again for nearly six weeks.international surrogacy

“You receive your dream and then someone comes over and takes away everything,” said Mr. Theologos, an American citizen who paid $55,000 to an agency for the surrogacy. Speaking by telephone from Queens, he added, “It was the end of the world for me.”

Mr. Theologos and his son are among a dozen foreign families who have been tangled up in a legal battle over how to apply new surrogacy restrictions in Tabasco, which for years was the only state in Mexico that allowed foreigners to hire surrogates.

Dozens of other families whose babies are yet unborn will face the same quandary, officials and lawyers said.

The imbroglio highlights the legal complexities of commercial surrogacy and the hazards of outsourcing it to freewheeling frontier markets, experts said.

“It’s an area that’s incredibly hard to regulate,” said Sam Everingham, global director of Families Through Surrogacy, a nonprofit based in Sydney that organizes seminars and shares information on the internet.

The model in which would-be parents from wealthy countries hire surrogates in poorer — and less regulated — nations is “not sustainable,” he said.

Surrogacy has expanded around the globe over the past decade as adoption rules become more stringent. But several markets have boomed and then abruptly closed to foreigners or people who are not in heterosexual marriages, often catching parents in a messy transition from one law to the next.

surrogate lawyers, surrogate lawyer, surrogate attorney, legal surrogate, surrogate legalTabasco, where surrogacy has been legal since 1997, became a hub after India closed its doors, first to gay and then to foreign would-be parents, starting in 2013, and Thailand followed suit.

In Tabasco, the new restrictions closed a lucrative door for hundreds of women in a state where the oil industry has shed thousands of jobs, and the unemployment rate, at over 7 percent, is the highest in Mexico.

“There are no opportunities here,” said Mariana, 34, an unemployed saleswoman who bore twins for an Australian man last year. Like other surrogate mothers interviewed for this article, she did not want her full name used.

Sipping a soursop juice at a noisy cafe in the city center recently, she said that the pregnancy, for which she was paid about $10,000, was her “only chance to get ahead.”

The market here was never as large as India’s and Thailand’s had been. The government estimates that about 100 babies were born to surrogates in Tabasco each year from 2013 to 2016; academics and activists say it could have been as many as 500 a year.

by Victoria Burnett, New York Times – March 23, 2017

Click here to read the entire article.

South Dakota Allows State-Funded Adoption Agencies to Turn Away Same-Sex Couples

Religious liberty means different things to different people. To James Madison, it meant freedom from religious persecution—and, specifically, from taxes used to fund specific religious sects.

To Thomas Jefferson, it meant freedom of worship, safeguarded by a strict separation of church and state. And to South Dakota Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard, it means the freedom of state-funded agencies to refuse to let same-sex couples foster or adoption children.new york adoption, new york state adoption, adoption New York

On Friday evening, Daugaard signed SB 149 into law, granting publicly funded adoption agencies a license to discriminate. The law permits any “child-placement agency” in the state—including those that receive taxpayer money—to discriminate on the basis of “any sincerely-held religious belief or moral conviction.” Republican legislators designed the law to let these agencies turn away same-sex couples who hope to foster or adopt; its Senate sponsor, Republican Sen. Alan Solano, co-wrote the bill with Catholic Social Services, a vigorously anti-gay religious adoption agency that will not place children with same-sex couples. But the measure actually extends far beyond LGBTQ discrimination: It will also allow agencies to discriminate against single and divorced people, couples who engage in premarital sex, interfaith couples, and anyone else whose behavior or identity violates an agency’s “religious belief or moral conviction.”

More than 300 children are currently awaiting adoption in South Dakota, a number that SB 149 may well increase. Many of these children were removed from neglectful or abusive homes; SB 149 reduces the odds that they will find families to take them in. Adoption and foster care agencies may now turn away qualified individuals for reasons that are utterly immaterial to the wellbeing of children. The upshot of the bill is that more kids are likely to be left without homes and families.

by Mark Joseph Stern, Slate.com – March 13, 2017

Click here to read the entire article.

South Dakota Senate advances protections for adoption agencies that turn away gay couples

The South Dakota Senate on Wednesday advanced a bill that would protect religious or faith-based foster care and adoption agencies that deny child placement to same-sex couples and single parents.

PIERRE — On a 22-12 vote, South Dakota legislators approved Senate Bill 149, which would ensure that religious or faith-based adoption and foster care groups could continue to benefit from state funds and that they wouldn’t face retribution if they denied placement to a parent or couple that doesn’t meet their requirements.

The measure’s sponsor Sen. Alan Solano, R-Rapid City, said he brought the bill to ensure that groups with “sincerely held” religious views are able to place children with traditional families or with other parents that they deem appropriate. He said the bill would help maintain the status quo in that private adoption groups in the state could continue to utilize certain faith-based requirements when selecting prospective parents.gay adoption

“I worry that with out these protections that these boards are going to say we’re done doing child placement,” Solano said.

He said other cities and states have brought restrictions on private adoption agencies that require they drop placement standards based on religion or sexual orientation or risk losing state funding for the services or other programs.

Currently, more than a dozen private adoption agencies operate in the state and if they don’t contract with the state, they are able to turn away single parents, LGBTQ people or non-religious people. Six other organizations currently receive state funds and as a result must comply with state and federal standards that bar them from imposing restrictions based on religion, sexual orientation, marital status, race or gender identity.

Opponents of the bill, including civil rights groups and LGBT advocacy organizations have said the bill’s passage would lead to discrimination at the taxpayer’s expense and could land the state in court.

“This bill could prevent LGBT couples, interfaith couples, divorced people and many otherwise qualified, loving families from adopting children under the guise of religious liberty – all on the taxpayer’s dime,” said Libby Skarin, policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota. “Everyone has the right to their beliefs and to act on them, but that right doesn’t give anyone, including the government, a license to harm others.”

by Dana Ferguson, Argus Leader, 2/22/2017

Click here to read the entire article.

Vague anti same-sex marriage bills begin final steps through Virginia GA

Today, in a Virginia Senate General Laws committee hearing, HB 2025, authored by Del. Freitas (R- 30) by a vote of 8-7.

Before the bill was passed it was amended to match its Virginia Senate counter part, SB 1324. This senate version, submitted by Sen. Carrico, is an exact copy of a bill he submitted last year – that legislation passed the House and Senate and was vetoed by McAuliffe weeks later.

Both bills, known as a solemnization bills,  aim to shield any “person” from punishment from the state, civil or otherwise, if they deny services in a same-sex marriage. It defines a “person” as a “religious organization, organization supervised or controlled by or operated in connection with a religious organization, individual employed by a religious organization while acting in the scope of his paid or volunteer employment, successor, representative, agent, agency, or instrumentality of any of the foregoing or clergy member or minister.”adoption for gay couples

In layman’s terms, it aims to protect pastors and other faith leaders in churches from civil or criminal punishment if they deny services to same-sex couples. However the bill has also been interpreted by some activists to include other faith-based organizations like church- run schools or hospitals, giving them the ability to refuse visitation rights by same-sex couples, or deny the children of same-sex parents in parochial programs.

The bill was amended and passed without comment and the vote was along party lines with no surprises.

Sen. Carrico’s bill now heads to the House General Laws Committee where it is set to similarly be passed with little debate or issue.

Gov. McAuliffe has promised to veto this bill along with any other bill which could negatively impact LGBTQ Virginians.

by Brad Kutner, February 13, 2107

Click here to read the entire article.

Artificial insemination parenting bill draws LGBT criticism

Two Tennessee lawmakers want to do away with a 40-year-old state law granting legitimacy to children conceived through artificial insemination. Critics say the bill is aimed at gay couples and their children.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The bill would remove a single sentence applying to child custody when artificial insemination is involved, one that’s been interpreted to make no distinction between same-sex and heterosexual couples.

But opponents warn that changing the law could prevent both same-sex parents from appearing on the children’s birth certificates, affecting their ability to make parenting decisions ranging from medical care to education.

“It would affect lesbian couples in particular, because if you have two women who are married and one is the birth mother, the other one is presumed to be parent in Tennessee,” said Chris Sanders, the executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project.anonymous sperm donors

Ever since the 2015 same-sex marriage ruling, Tennessee laws with gender-specific terms have been interpreted as applying to either gender of married couples. But that would change under another Republican bill that is seeking to eliminate gender-neutral interpretations of “mother,” ”father,” ”husband,” and “wife.” 

“Clearly, the legislative intention behind both these bills is to stop lesbian couples from having the same automatic recognition of their parent-child relationships that opposite-sex couples have,” Julia Tate-Keith, a Murfreesboro attorney specializing in adoption and surrogacy issues, said in a legal memo.

State Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver, the sponsor of the artificial insemination bill, in a Facebook post denied that her bill is aimed at same-sex marriage, and argued it would not de-legitimize children because another state law addresses parentage without asking about the method of conception.

“The remaining law that will now govern the situation does not have the government inquiring into the means by which the couple’s child came into existence or whose sperm, the husband’s or a donor’s, was used,” Weaver wrote in the post.

Weaver said there would be no change under her legislation for heterosexual couples. “A child born to a married woman will be considered the child of her husband,” she said in a statement.

But that part of the code refers to circumstances when “a man is rebuttably presumed to be the father of a child.” Tate-Keith said that that language does not carry the same gender-neutral interpretation as other parts of state law.

Sanders said that heterosexual couples would have to go through more legal steps if the bill becomes law.

“Straight couples will lose the presumption of paternity,” Sanders said. “It will require them to go to court.”

“What if you didn’t tell your family and friends you were getting fertility treatment?” he said. “It just creates more hardship, more hoops to jump through.”

By ERIK SCHELZIG Associated Press, February 13, 2017

Click here to read the entire article.

The LGBT Trump Disconnect

The LGBT Trump disconnect is real and attention must be paid to what appears to be the beginning of a not so veiled assault on LGBT rights in America.

First, I must say that there is an LGBT Trump disconnect.  Since I wrote my first piece about LGBT family rights in the Trump presidency, a lot has changed.  I have heard from many people, and I myself wanted to believe, that Trump wouldn’t touch the LGBT gains that we have made during the Obama years.  But his actions have proven different.  His appointments, activity in state courts and the often unintelligible rhetoric we have become accustomed, all suggest that we may not be as safe as some thought we were.

The Appointment Problem – My greatest fears about Trump’s appointments center around the Department of Justice (DOJ), and more specifically, around the civil rights division of the that agency.  First, the long and telling history of Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, the Republican Senator from Alabama who President Trump has tapped to lead the DOJ, is troubling for many more that just LGBT Americans.  According to The Washington Post, Jeff Sessions has claimed to be a civil rights champion, yet he has overstated his experience and, in some cases, lied altogether about his involvement.  Sessions has spent the majority of his career attempting to undermine LGBT equality, the details of which are numerous and troubling.

But the worst of this story is that President Trump has chosen John M. Gore to head the DOJ’s Civil Right s division.  Mr. Gore, prior to this nomination, was in the process of defending North Carolina’s odious trans-bathroom bill.  Prior to that, he defended Republican efforts to gerrymander congressional districts in violation of the civil rights of minority Americans.       This is not only putting the fox in charge of the hen house, but the hens in this analogy are real people who have had their civil rights violated in what should be the most fundamental right this country possesses – the right to vote.  How can they now trust that their best interests will be defended by a person who, up to now, has made a career out of challenging these fundamental rights?

The Visibility Problem – One of the first signs that there might be a distance between Trump’s “accepting” rhetoric toward the LGBT community during the campaign and what he plans to do as president appeared, or rather disappeared, within the first hour after he was sworn in.  The official White House website, www.whitehouse.gov, removed the LGBT rights page which had been there throughout Obama’s last term, and before.  No explanation was given, however, the pro-Trump Twittersphere rejoiced.LGBT Trump

In an equally expedient manner, all data regarding climate change was removed as well from the whitehouse.gov site.  As most LGBT Americans are not one issue voters, this deletion concerned me as much as the LGBT page being removed.  “Out of sight, out of mind,” seems to be the rule of law now.

The Marriage Issue – I referred earlier to things having changed since I wrote LGBT Family Rights in a Trump Presidency.  At that time, the Supreme Court of Texas had declined to re-hear a case which would abolish benefits that the City of Houston provides to same-sex married couples. Literally on Trump’s inauguration day, the Supreme Court of Texas changed its mind, under GOP pressure.  The Republican Governor of Texas himself wrote a brief to the court asking them to reconsider, essentially arguing that the Obergefell Supreme Court marriage decision does not apply to Texas.  In that brief, the Governor wrote of the “Federal Tyranny” of the courts and that Obergefell does not require that same-sex married couples and different-sex married couples receive equal treatment under the law.

In my previous article, I was originally at a loss for identifying a case with a fact pattern that would make it to the Supreme Court which would have the effect of etching away at the Obergefell marriage decision.  This Texas case may be just that.  It would undoubtedly take time to make it to the Supreme Court, and who knows what its makeup will be then.  But the anti-marriage movement’s argument is in development and may take the same amount of time to get its legs.  The Arkansas Supreme Court issued a decision based on the above mentioned logic denying same-sex couples that right to be listed on their children’s birth certificates.  The issue is now before us and we cannot afford to stop paying attention.

After attending the Women’s March in Washington this last weekend, I left with a renewed sense of hope and possibility.  Hundreds of thousands of people made the impossible seem possible.  The greatest lesson that I took from my experience there was that no matter how generous I may have felt before in giving President Trump a chance to govern, I cannot forget, nor should any of us, that he won the election by dividing the country and making it clear that some people were simply not welcome.  Those are not “alternate facts.”  Those are the facts.  

This is the LGBT Trump disconnect.  I fear now that my beloved LGBT community has taken its place among women, black people, brown people, Muslim people and immigrant communities that were so vilified during the election and may have no voice in the Trump administration.  I hope that the LGBT Trump disconnect is a myth, but if past is prologue, we have no option other than to pay attention, remain engaged and share our feelings with everyone we can. 

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

 

Update – 1/30/2017 – As of Friday, January 27, 2017, the Trump administration has reacted to outrage regarding the removal of climate change information from the Environmental Protection Agency’s website by restoring that information on to the EPA website.  All LGBT information remains missing from the whitehouse.gov site.

 

Update – 2/23/2017 – As of Thursday, February 23, 2017, the Trump administration rescinded protections for transgendered students in public schools.

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