Australians Say ‘Yes’ to Same-Sex Marriage, Clearing Path for Legalization

A solid majority of Australians voted in favor of same-sex marriage in a historic survey that, while not binding, paves the way for Parliament to legally recognize the unions of gay and lesbian couples.

Of 12.7 million Australians who took part in the government survey, 61.6 percent voted yes and 38.4 percent voted no, officials announced on Wednesday morning. Participation was high, with 79.5 percent of voting-age Australians sending back their postal ballots.

“The Australian people have spoken, and they have voted overwhelmingly ‘yes’ for marriage equality,” said Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who called the survey in a move described by advocates as a delay tactic devised to appease his party’s far-right faction. “They voted ‘yes’ for fairness, they voted ‘yes’ for commitment, they voted ‘yes’ for love.”Australia gay marriage

The high turnout and unequivocal result amounted to a rebuke for Australia’s most conservative politicians, many of whom saw a majority of their constituents vote to support same-sex marriage despite their arguments against it.

Proponents of gay rights spent the day celebrating. They gathered in cities around the country to watch news broadcasts of the survey results. The largest crowd, at Prince Alfred Park in Sydney, broke into cheers, with hugs, dancing and tears, as soon as the news was announced.

“This is our proudest moment as gay and lesbian Australians,” said Chris Lewis, 60, an artist from Sydney, who waved a large rainbow flag he bought in San Francisco about 30 years ago. “Finally I can be proud of my country.”

But many Australians said it was also late in coming.

Annika Lowry, 42, who brought her 4-year-old daughter to the celebration, said the vote revealed a widening gap between Australia’s political class and voters who have been demanding same-sex marriage legislation for years.

“It was not just about us,” she said. “It’s for our kids, so that they know equality is important.”

Alex Greenwich, a state lawmaker from New South Wales and the co-chairman of Australian Marriage Equality, an advocacy group, said the vote “shows that Australians have truly come together in support of their gay and lesbian mates and have said that everybody should be able to have the freedom to marry.”

Yet another study finds kids with same-sex parents do just as well as those with straight parents

More than a third of Americans think LGB people should not be able to adopt kids

Kids with same-sex parents are doing just fine, according to a new study.

In news shocking no one but homophobes, the study analyzed data from the American National Health Interview Survey from 2013 to 2015 and proved kids with same-sex parents do just as well as kids with straight parents.

The researchers looked at data for around 21,000 children between the ages of 4 and 17. The survey analyzed the emotional, mental and psychological health of both children and parents.

It’s the latest research in a flood of previous studies proving same-sex parents are just as qualified in raising kids. In fact, some studies suggest they’re even better.

This study found there is no increased difficulties for kids with homosexual partners. It did, however, find kids with bisexual parents had slightly poorer scores.

Researchers then took into account the psychological stress suffered by the parents and the difference vanished.

They theorize this is probably a result of the hardships parents face in a society that stigmatize their sexual orientation.

The authors suggest a ‘more inclusive society might help reduce that stress, and improve the mental wellbeing of kids with bisexual parents.’

Lead author Dr Jerel Calzo, from the San Diego State University Graduate School of Public Health said: ‘As lesbian, gay, and bisexual parented families become more visible, the findings bolster previous studies revealing that children raised in these families have comparable psychological well-being compared with children raised by heterosexual parents.

‘In addition, the results indicate the need for continued investment in strategies to prevent sexual orientation–based discrimination. And to support sexual minority parents who may experience minority stress,’ he said.

gaystarnews.com, November 10, 2017 by James Besanvalle

Click here to read the entire article.

PGS – New Study addresses impact of preimplantation genetic screening on donor oocyte-recipient cycles in the United States

Preimplantation genetic screening, or PGS, as practiced in donor oocyte-recipient cycles over the past 9 years, has not been associated with improved odds of live birth or reduction in miscarriage rates.

PGS Study ObjectivePGS, PGD

Our objective was to estimate the contribution of preimplantation genetic screening to in vitro fertilization pregnancy outcomes in donor oocyte-recipient cycles.

PGS Study Design

This was a retrospective cross-sectional study of US national data from the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology Clinic Outcome Reporting System between 2005 and 2013. Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology Clinic Outcome Reporting relies on voluntarily annual reports by more than 90% of US in vitro fertilization centers. We evaluated pregnancy and live birth rates in donor oocyte-recipient cycles after the first embryo transfer with day 5/6 embryos. Statistical models, adjusted for patient and donor ages, number of embryos transferred, race, infertility diagnosis, and cycle year were created to compare live birth rates in 392 preimplantation genetic screening and 20,616 control cycles.

PGS Results

Overall, pregnancy and live birth rates were significantly lower in preimplantation genetic screening cycles than in control cycles. Adjusted odds of live birth for preimplantation genetic screening cycles were reduced by 35% (odds ratio, 0.65, 95% confidence interval, 0.53–0.80; P < .001).

PGS Conclusion

Preimplantation genetic screening, as practiced in donor oocyte-recipient cycles over the past 9 years, has not been associated with improved odds of live birth or reduction in miscarriage rates.

November 2017, American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 

Click here to read the entire text of the study.

Lesbian couples can now have children who are a part of each of them

Over the years I’ve had many lesbians tell me they want children but don’t see themselves being pregnant. It’s not part of their “body image.”

At some level, I understand this feeling. Our gender identity and sexual identity are tied up in our body image and feelings of sexual desire. Being pregnant and carrying a baby inside is an incredibly unique, womanly experience. Men have no idea what this is like, despite how much some may try.

As an experienced obstetrician who’s cared for many pregnant women throughout their pregnancies and deliveries, and as a gynecologist who has cared for and has performed gynecologic surgeries for women for the past thirty years, I’ve seen first-hand the many phases of reproductive health (and experiences with ill health) that only women can experience.IVF

I understand that some women may not identify with parts of that spectrum. For a lesbian couple it is sometimes easy to decide who will carry the pregnancy, while other couples struggle mightily with this uniquely lesbian decision. For single lesbian women, the choice can become more complex: to carry oneself and maybe go into new self-awareness territory, or to utilize the reproductive assistance of a gestational carrier.

We usually reserve gestational surrogates for women with a clearly defined medical need for surrogacy, yet lesbian women can often have very real issues that educate their life choices. Is body image a medical necessity for surrogacy? I believe that it can be if it’s tied into a woman’s sexual identity and sense of self.

We are very fortunate to live in a country where reproductive options are now available for all individuals regardless of gender, sexual identity, or marital status. This is not the case across Europe and other parts of the world. In my practice I see many patients from across the globe – from China, Europe and elsewhere – who travel for reproductive treatment options that are illegal where they live.

All women, and in particular lesbians, who might consider having children someday should talk with their doctor about reproductive options available, or ask for a referral to a fertility specialist to review the treatments that may best apply to their situation. It is imperative that lesbian women seek out a practice that is comfortable providing care to lesbians and same-sex couples.

By Dr. Guy Ringler, LGBTQNation.com – September 12, 2017

Click here to read the entire article.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to read the entire article.

A Baby or Your Money Back: All About Fertility Clinic Package Deals

Trying to have a baby with the aid of modern reproductive technology can feel like visiting a gambling parlor with the highest possible stakes.

So consider the pitch that many fertility clinics now put in front of people like Kristi and Carleton Chambers.

After several miscarriages, the Leesburg, Va., couple took their doctors up on an offer to hand over $50,000 — $20,000 more than what they might have paid for the in vitro fertilization and other services that they needed at the time. In return, the clinic promised multiple procedures until they gave birth, and if it didn’t work, they would get a full refund.IVF

The catch? If they made a baby on the first try, the practice would keep all their money. That is exactly what happened — to their great joy. After their baby boy was born, the couple eventually signed up for a similar deal and ended up with twins.

Welcome to the fertility casino, which frequently presents the rarest of scenarios: A commercial entity offers a potentially money-losing proposition to customers in exchange for a generous supply of in vitro fertilization procedures. People pay tens of thousands of dollars for the privilege, and when they come out with a newborn in their arms they’re often thrilled to be on the losing end financially.

So who wins? The house. Doctors (and third-party companies that help manage these programs and may take on any financial risk) keep careful track of their data. So they set prices at profitable points given the odds.

Here’s how the house can stack the deck: By admitting only people who have a better-than-even chance of bearing a child early in the process. Those people, however, may not need to pay extra for such a plan, given that their clinics picked them precisely because they were such good bets.

“It’s kind of like the clinic bets on your success, and you bet on your failure,” said Sarah Burke, a Pittsburgh woman who became a parent after enrolling in such a program.

Some of the overall performance numbers of fertility clinics are available in federal databases, but at my request, FertilityIQ, an information clearinghouse and doctor-review service, recently gathered some additional data.

Of the 54 people it found who had enrolled in a baby-or-your-money-back program, 30 of them achieved success not just in the first I.V.F. “cycle” (when doctors retrieve eggs) but on the first transfer — that is, the first time, after retrieval, that doctors attempt to implant an embryo or embryos they created with those eggs. A total of 67 percent were successful in the first cycle, which is at least 20 percentage points or so higher than the birthrate that similarly aged women nationwide experience in any I.V.F. cycle.

So are those two sets of women comparable? Not exactly.

three-parent babyWhile we shouldn’t make too much out of a sample size this small, FertilityIQ’s founders, Jake Anderson and Deborah Bialis, believe that doctors cherry-pick patients who have a high likelihood of success. According to Mr. Anderson and Ms. Bialis, a married couple who were themselves treated for infertility before becoming parents, medical professionals screen the harder cases out — say, people with more problematic diagnoses or those who are older or have a high body mass index.

That’s what happened to Johanna Hernandez of Marana, Ariz., who — after two miscarriages and struggles with I.V.F. — couldn’t get into a program that offered multiple rounds and a refund. “We’re in such a precarious position,” she said. “At the beginning, there’s no way to know that you’re going to need these programs. But at the end, they just won’t help you.”

Ms. Hernandez and her husband paid for additional à la carte treatment, had one more miscarriage along the way and now have a baby boy.

Another way for doctors to improve the odds of producing more babies would be to implant more embryos during each transfer. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine frowns on this, given the additional risks that come with twins and triplets. It has also warned of this possibility in a position paper on the package deals and refund programs, which are known in the industry as “risk-sharing.”

New York Times – April 14, 2017 by Ron Leiber

Click here to read the entire article.

Same-Sex Parenting Studies: Research Proves Sexual Orientation Of Parents Doesn’t Matter

More studies proves that it doesn’t matter at all whether or not kids have same-sex parents.

Rachel Farr, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Kentucky, conducted the study, which was recently published in the Developmental Psychology journal.studies

Farr studied 100 families who adopted children at infancy. Half the parents were same-sex and the other half were opposite sex. She concluded: “Rather than family structure, available research on early child development indicates that family processes matter more to child outcomes.”

child’s behaviour is more influenced by: parenting stress, parenting approaches and couple relationship adjustment.

She writes: “Regardless of parental sexual orientation, children (in the study) had fewer behaviour problems over time when their adoptive parents indicated experiencing less parenting stress. Higher family functioning when children were school-age was predicted by lower parenting stress and fewer child behaviour problems when children were preschool-age.”

by Kristy Woudstra, Huffington Post Canada – January 5, 2017

Click here to read the entire article.

Human Gene Editing Receives Science Panel’s Support

An influential science advisory group formed by the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine on Tuesday lent its support to a once-unthinkable proposition: clinical efforts to engineer humans with inheritable genetic traits.

In a report laden with caveats and notes of caution, the group endorsed the alteration of human eggs, sperm and embryos — but only to prevent babies from being born with genes known to cause serious diseases and disability, only when no “reasonable alternative” exists, and only when a plan is in place to track the effects of the procedure through multiple generations.

Human genetic engineering for any reason has long been seen as an ethical minefield. Many scientists fear that the techniques used to prevent genetic diseases might also be used to enhance intelligence or create humans physically suited to particular tasks, like soldiers.gene editing

Just over a year ago, an international group of scientists declared that it would be “irresponsible to proceed” with making heritable changes to the human genome until the risks could be better assessed and until there was “broad societal consensus about the appropriateness” of any proposed change.

Because any genetic changes in human eggs, sperm and embryos, also called the germ line, can be passed on to future generations, the recommendation crosses a line that “many have viewed as ethically inviolable,” the report acknowledges.

But in the last year, the report’s authors said, the techniques required to perform this sort of gene editing have passed crucial milestones that have forced ethical considerations to the fore.

“Previously, it was easy for people to say, ‘This isn’t possible, so we don’t have to think about it much,’” said Richard Hynes, a cancer researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who was one of the leaders of the committee that wrote the new report.

“Now we can see a path whereby we might be able to do it, so we have to think about how to make sure it’s used only for the right things and not for the wrong things,” he said.

by Amy Harmon, New York Times, February 14, 2017

Click here to read the entire article.

Triplets With DNA From Both Same-Sex Parents Born In South Africa

I can only imagine how it feels to become a parent for the first time. The words thrilling, exciting, nerve-racking, and love, all immediately come to mind.

I’m sure that’s close to what South African dads Christo and Theo Menelaou felt – perhaps multiplied three times over – when they brought home their adorable triplet babies for the first time. Of course, triplets and newborns alone are enough to prompt a flurry of excitement. But there’s another reason Christo and Theo had to be especially excited: the couple’s triplets carried DNA from both of their same-sex parents — the first ever multiples with DNA from three parents. Human Sperm Cell

Of course, the couple went through a long journey to become parents. In an interview with Sky News, Christo Menlaou shared some of the couple’s previous experiences in pursuing adoption:

When you are gay, there is always the thought that it just may not be possible to be a parent no matter how much you would love to be. It’s very hard to be accepted for adoption and we were told we would always come after heterosexual couples. And then we just never thought we’d ever find a person who would want to be surrogate to a gay couple.
The Menalaous have two girls, Zoe and Kate, and a boy, Joshua, by a surrogate. Both dads reportedly used their sperm to fertilize one embryo each, and 10 weeks into the pregnancy revealed that one embryo had split – resulting in triplets, two of which are identical (Zoe and Kate) according to the Sky News interview with the dads. The triplets share both fathers’ DNA, the Associated Press reported.

The babies were delivered, prematurely, in July. And the adorable triplets are now home with their dads, after weeks of being monitored in the hospital, Sky News reported. The babies reportedly needed breathing assistance, and are still receiving care from nurses at home.

The gynecologist who delivered the triplets said the babies, born by surrogate with a split embryo resulting in triplets, was an “extremely rare” situation. “It is extremely rare,” Dr Heidra Dahms told Sky News. “I have never heard of this before.”

by Kimberly Richards, Romper.com – August 22, 2016

Click here to read the entire article.

New Study Shows No Differences in Family Relationships or Child Health Outcomes between Same-sex and Different-sex Parent Households

New Study Shows No Differences in Family Relationships or Child Health Outcomes between Same-sex and Different-sex Parent Households

LOS ANGELES — Households with same-sex parents show no differences from those with different-sex parents with regard to spouse or partner relationships, parent-child relationships, or children’s general health, emotional difficulties, coping and learning behavior, according to a new report by researchers affiliated with the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, the University of Amsterdam and Columbia University.

“This study is the first to use a nationally representative survey to compare the two types of households by focusing only on those with parents that have been in a continuous relationship,” said lead author Henny Bos, Ph.D.gay parents adoption

The study, titled “Same-sex and Different-sex Parent Households and Child Health Outcomes: Findings from the National Survey of Children’s Health,” compared family relationships, parenting stress and child outcomes in households with female same-sex parents versus different-sex parents.

Ninety-five same-sex parent households were matched to 95 different-sex parent households on eight demographic characteristics – parental age, education, U.S. birth status, and current geographic location, and the studied child’s age, gender, race/ethnicity, and U.S. birth status.

Although the study found no differences in family relationships and child outcomes, same-sex parents reported more parenting stress.

“Future investigations might explore whether the cultural spotlight on child outcomes in same-sex parent families is associated with increased parenting stress,” said psychiatrist and co-author Nanette Gartrell, MD, Visiting Scholar at the Williams Institute. “Some of our earlier studies have shown that lesbian mothers feel pressured to justify the quality of their parenting because of their sexual orientation.”

Click here to read the entire article.

Nanette Gartrell, MD – The Williams Institute