Same-Sex Couples Entitled to Equal Visa Rights, Hong Kong Court Says

Hong Kong’s top court ruled on Wednesday that committed same-sex couples living in the city had the same rights to spousal visas as married heterosexual couples, a decision that advocates said could have ripple effects in advancing gay rights.

The case, which was brought in 2014 by a British woman who wanted to join her partner, galvanized gay rights activists who said that Hong Kong had not been living up to its image as “Asia’s world city” by failing, until now, to recognize such rights. Banks and law firms had pushed for such recognition to lure and keep top talent in the financial and business center.hong kong gay visa

“This judgment is a milestone for Hong Kong and a watershed moment” for gay rights across Asia, Jan Wetzel, senior legal adviser at Amnesty International, said in a statement.

The woman at the center of the case, known in court papers only as QT, came to Hong Kong as a visitor in 2011, several months after entering a same-sex civil partnership in Britain with SS, a woman of South African and British nationality who had taken a job in Hong Kong. QT’s application for a dependent visa was refused on the basis that marriage is defined in Hong Kong as the union of one man and one woman.

Without such a visa, a foreign partner would be able to stay in Hong Kong only on a short-term tourist visa and would not be able to work or receive public services.

QT took the government to court, claiming discrimination based on sexual orientation. She lost in 2016 in the Court of First Instance, which said it would be unlawful for the government to accept same-sex partnerships “through the back door.” Last fall, the Court of Appeal ruled unanimously in her favor on the grounds that the visa policy was indirectly discriminatory. That decision was upheld in Wednesday’s unanimous ruling by the Court of Final Appeal.

In a statement, QT said the ruling “affirms what millions of us in this wonderful and vibrant city know to be true, that discrimination based on sexual orientation, like any other form of discrimination, is offensive and demeaning.”

by Jennifer Jett and Austin Ramzy, New York Times, July 4, 2018

Click here to read the entire article.

In landmark ruling, Italy recognizes gay couple as dads to surrogate babies

For the first time in Italy, two gay partners have been legally recognized as fathers of two surrogate children.

The children were born to a surrogate mother in the United States using artificial insemination, but both of the men will officially be named as its father – not just the parent who is biologically related.

Judges at Trento’s Court of Appeal made the historic ruling in line with the birth certificate issued in the US, which stated the dual paternity, according to the Article 29 website.international surrogacy

The website, which takes its name from the article in the Italian Constitution regarding family life, published the ruling on Tuesday, though the ruling was dated February 23rd.

In their decision, judges noted that the foreign birth certificate was valid because in Italy parental relationships are not determined solely by biological relationships.

“On the contrary,” they said, “One must consider the importance of parental responsibility, which is manifested in the conscious decision to have and care for the child.” 

Article 29 said the decision had “great significance”, as it is the first time an Italian court has ruled that a child has two fathers.

Surrogacy in Italy

Italian law prevents couples from using a surrogate mother, and in theory, anyone caught entering into a surrogacy arrangement faces up to two years in prison and a fine of up to a million euros.

Two years ago, a child was taken from its parents who had paid a surrogate mother in Ukraine 25,000 euros. The couple were charged with fraud and the child put up for adoption.

TheLocal.it, February 28, 2017

Click here to read the entire article.

A Perfect Father’s Day: MHB Puts Surrogacy Within Reach

Men Having Babies, MHB, started back in 2005 as a “peer support network for biological gay fathers and fathers-to-be,” according to the group’s website.

 

“We were heartbroken.”

“We just figured it wasn’t going to happen for us.”

“We spent everything — all of our savings — over nine years.”

“We took one look at the price tag, and figured it wasn’t within reach.”

These are the statements of two couples — Jay and Victor, and Daniel and Ricardo — who, at one point or another, came close to giving up on their hopes to become fathers.

It’s frustrations such as these, which are unfortunately all too commonly heard from would-be gay fathers, that prompted a group of gay men to form “Men Having Babies” or MHB,  a resource organization to help prospective gay dads navigate the often-troubled waters of surrogacy.

The organization started back in 2005 as a “peer support network for biological gay fathers and fathers-to-be,” according to the group’s website. Originally, the group operated as a small program out of New York City’s LGBT Community Center. In 2012, however, it morphed into a standalone non-profit organization, and has since expanded to offer workshops and seminars for gay men interested in becoming biological fathers from cities ranging from Los Angeles to Tel Aviv.MHB, gpap

While many other resource organizations exist to help LGBT parents, MHB is, to their knowledge, the only of its kind focused on easing the considerable financial burden of surrogacy for prospective gay fathers — the average cost of which is roughly $120,000.

“There are a dozen or so foundations that provide financial assistance to infertile people,” said Ron Poole-Dayan, the executive director and founding member of MHB, “but none offer to help to gay men, even though they need substantial third party assistance in order to become parents.”

Ron pointed out that as a category, gay men can face more obstacles in their quests to become parents than others. “These include biological, legal, and social constraints, as well as significantly higher financial costs.”

One of the main aspects of the organization’s mission, then, is to promote the affordability of surrogacy. It’s a cause close to the hearts of all those involved with MHB. According to A.J. Edge, the director of operation and finance for MHB, all of the organization’s board members have previously gone through their own surrogacy processes.

“They know that surrogacy is not something that’s open to anyone,” A.J. said. “And that it can be overwhelming and daunting — so that’s why GPAP was born.”

MHB created GPAP — or the Gay Parenting Assistance Program — to assist prospective gay parents who cannot afford the full cost of biological parenting on their own. The program is split into two “stages.” Those approved for Stage 1 become eligible for substantial discounts off the cost of surrogacy services from dozens of leading service providers. Stage II assistance, though more selective, is even more comprehensive — those accepted are provided with direct cash grants and free services to cover a considerable portion of the cost of surrogacy.

“In the last two years, more than 300 couples became eligible for substantial discounts off the cost of surrogacy services,” said Ron Poole-Dayan, the executive director of MHB, “and more than 40 couples have received direct financial assistance, including grants and free services. Ten babies were already born to Stage II couples, and many more are on their way.”

Without this type of assistance, the cost of surrogacy can be prohibitively expensive for many gay dads, or at least those who don’t happen to have an extra $120,000 hiding under their mattresses.

This sticker price was enough to deter Jay Todd and Victor Gonzalez, a couple of 17 years, when they took their first steps towards becoming fathers five years ago.

“We thought you needed to be like Elton John to have kids through surrogacy,” Jay joked. “It just seemed out of reach for most families — like such a fantasy.”

So instead, the couple first tried to adopt, a process that proved to be more emotionally fraught and expensive than they had hoped. “We spent thousands of dollars,” Jay said, “and it was very emotionally difficult time for everyone involved.” The couple came close to completing an adoption a couple of times — once with a child in Indiana, and a second time with a sibling group in Colombia — but neither worked out in the end.

The couple stresses that they have no regrets, and wish nothing but the best for the birth parents and their children. Still, the experience left them emotionally exhausted, and they decided to sideline their dream of becoming fathers. “We had to give up,” Jay admitted. “We just figured it wasn’t going to happen for us.”

Then, the couple learned about GPAP, and were approved for Stage I assistance. “We got substantial discounts from Simply Surrogacy and CT Fertility,” Jay said. “It probably saved us around $10,000.”

June 19, 2016 via Gayswithkids.com

Click here to read the entire article.

New York Surrogacy – The State of the State

Many LGBT individuals and couples are turning to surrogacy to have their families. New York surrogacy is complicated and evolving, but there is hope on the horizon.

Surrogacy is defined and the act of a woman, altruistic in nature, of gestating and giving birth to a child with the intention of giving that child to the intended parent or parents. There are two types of surrogacy: traditional and gestational. Traditional surrogacy is when the surrogate mother is also the egg donor and the child is biologically related to her. With a gestational surrogacy, a fertilized egg is implanted into the womb of the surrogate and she is not biologically related to the child. Most surrogates today are gestational surrogates.

Currently in New York State, The Domestic Relations Law, Article 8, Section 123 essentially criminalizes compensated New York surrogacy. The law states that no person may request, accept or facilitate the receipt of compensation for a surrogacy arrangement. The law does, however, allow for “altruistic” surrogacy, or non-compensated surrogacy, and authorizes limited reimbursement payments for medical and legal costs related to the surrogacy. But the law does not stop there. Lawyers who facilitate compensated surrogacy agreements can lose their licenses and be convicted of a felony. Monetary sanctions from $500.00 to $10,000.00 are also possible. This does not mean that gay individuals and couples in New York cannot enter into a compensated surrogacy contract. It means that the surrogate cannot live, or more importantly give birth, in New York State, forcing them to incur extra costs of traveling to other states in order to support their surrogate mother.

gay surrogacy

The good news is that a group of advocates and attorneys have created a solution to this problem. It is called the Child Parent Security Act (CPSA), a law that would not only legalize and regulate compensated New York surrogacy, but would also allow for the issuance of parentage orders to secure the parental rights of the non-genetically related parent. Currently, non-genetically related parents must have a second or step parent adoption to protect their families. As of this post, the CPSA is stuck in committee in the New York legislature, held back due to certain legislators’ misunderstanding of surrogacy. Many of these legislators are staunch supporters of the rights of the LGBT community; however, surrogacy for them is a “hot button” issue, as it currently is in Europe.

If you are thinking about surrogacy to have your family, there are a few legal issues you should know about prior to signing any contracts. The most important is that compensated surrogacy is governed by the laws of the state where your surrogate lives, or where she gives birth. It is critical to be aware of these ever changing laws and make sure that the current law is incorporated into your gestational carrier (GC) contract. These contracts will contain such other provisions as: a mandate for medical and psychological testing, details of conception and abstinence for the GC and her partner or spouse, termination of GC’s parental rights, provisions for death or divorce of intended parents (IPs), payment of expenses, compensation, review of GC’s health insurance, breach and remedy procedures, selective reduction provisions to name just a few. These contracts are purposefully dense as their purpose is to cover any and all possible situations that may arise in the relationship IPs will have with their surrogate. It is critical that you have an attorney who is versed in Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) law to assist you in the drafting and review of your surrogacy contract.

Finally, for those considering New York surrogacy, make sure to read through the Men Having Babies Framework of Ethical Guidelines for Intended Parents, an invaluable document created to assist IPs in navigating the process with dignity and awareness of your surrogate mother’s needs through the process. If you are looking for an attorney in New York who specializes in helping same sex couples have families, call Anthony M. Brown, head of Nontraditional Family and Estates division of Albert W. Chianese & Associations, at 212-953-6447 or email questions to Anthony@timeforfamilies.com.

Children born via surrogacy to gay dads share their stories – Part 1 Men Having Babies NYC 2014

NOM Suggests Kids Raised By Gay Parents Don’t Get Food Or Health Care

by David Badash on November 30, 2011

The New Civil Rights Movement

In yet another example of anti-​gay tunnel vision, NOM, the National Organization For Marriage, displaying a complete lack of understanding of the nature of same-​sex headed households, links to and quotes a fatally-​flawed op-​ed that suggests children parented by gay couples will not get “child care, groceries, health care, home maintenance, household products, insurance and juvenile products,” nor will these children of gay or lesbian couples be “acquiring the skills and social capital they need to become well-​adjusted, productive workers.”

NOM posted an excerpt — four short paragraphs — of a ludicrous anti-​gay op-​ed penned by a Republican Minnesota state legislator, Steve Drazkowski. (Let’s pause of a moment and think of all the anti-​gay news that’s come out of Minnesota, starting with Michele Bachmann and her husband, Marcus, and the high student suicide contagion rate in the schools in her district, the recent “license to bully” legislation in their not anti-​bullying but pro-​bullying bill, and take it from there.)

Representative Steve Drazkowski’s supercilious analogy says that “eight of the top 10 ‘best states for business.’ according to a survey of 556 CEO’s by Chief Executive Magazine. have a state marriage amendment in their constitution. [sic]” Well, since only six states/​jurisdictions support same-​sex marriage, and 31 states have some form of legal ban on marriage equality, saying eight of the top ten states ban marriage equality is like shooting fish in a barrel; you’re bound to hit a good number, and 80% is about right. Heck, you could also argue that eight of the top ten best states for business also have an average temperature of at least 70 degrees.

Here’s the money quote of the ludicrous insinuation:

“Children, raised in married, mother-​father families play a huge factor in the health of the economy because they consume many services and goods, especially in child care, groceries, health care, home maintenance, household products, insurance and juvenile products.”

So, children raised by gays don’t get those vital necessities, apparently.

Never mind that gay parents generally adopt, and so are scrutinized and monitored far more than their heterosexual counterparts.

Of course gay couples provide for their children, at least as well as straight couples do, and, again, if they’ve adopted, probably better. Anyone who has been through the adoption process knows there are standards that have to be met, and rightly so, as long as those standards aren’t one man-​one woman marriage.

Drazkowski, by the way, is quoting from a May, 2011 article in Chief Executive magazine that has absolutely nothing to do with same-​sex marriage or same-​sex parenting.

Drazkowski also writes of a report that “emphasized that children, raised in married, mother-​father families, have an advantage when it comes to acquiring the skills and social capital they need to become well-​adjusted, productive workers.”

Seriously, what are NOM and Rep. Drazkowski thinking? Oh, right, they’re not.

Well, folks, here’s a lesson for you. When NOM’s Maggie, John, Bryan, and their anti-​gay ilk, like Rep.instant payday loans Drazkowski, say things like, “studies show that kids need a mom and a dad to be happy/​successful/​healthy, etc.,” what they’re not telling you is that the studies don’t offer the option of same-​sex parents in their analysis, nor do these studies, like the one Rep. Drazkowski, which you can access here, even mention the word “gay” or “homosexual.”

To read the complete article, go to: http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/nom-suggests-kids-raised-by-gay-parents-dont-get-food-or-health-care/politics/2011/11/30/30961#

Edie Windsor Reacts to Winning Her Case Against DOMA

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U.S. to Aid Gay Rights Abroad, Obama and Clinton Say

December 6, 2011

By STEVEN LEE MYERS and HELENE COOPER

GENEVA — The Obama administration announced on Tuesday that the United States would use all the tools of American diplomacy, including the potent enticement of foreign aid, to promote gay rights around the world.

In a memorandum issued by President Obama in Washington and in a speech by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton here, the administration vowed to actively combat efforts by other nations that criminalize homosexual conduct, abuse gay men, lesbians, bisexuals or transgendered people, or ignore abuse against them.

“Some have suggested that gay rights and human rights are separate and distinct,” Mrs. Clinton said at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, “but in fact they are one and the same.”

Neither Mr. Obama nor Mrs.Dipyridamole online Clinton specified how to give the initiative teeth. Caitlin Hayden, the National Security Council’s deputy spokeswoman, said the administration was “not cutting or tying” foreign aid to changes in other nation’s practices.

Still, raising the issue to such prominence on the administration’s foreign policy agenda is important, symbolically, much like President Jimmy Carter’s emphasis on human rights.

With campaigning already under way in the 2012 presidential contest, Mr. Obama’s announcement could bolster support among gay voters and donors, who have questioned the depth of his commitment. He chose the Rev. Rick Warren, a pastor who opposes same-sex marriage, to deliver the invocation at his inauguration. Mr. Obama himself has not come out officially in favor of same-sex marriage. But he successfully pushed for repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that prevented gays from serving openly in the military. And the Justice Department has said it will no longer defend in court the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

The initiative also invites attacks from Republicans trying to appeal to a conservative base in the primary and caucus states.

One Republican candidate, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, said: “President Obama has again mistaken America’s tolerance for different lifestyles with an endorsement of those lifestyles. I will not make that mistake.”

To read the complete article, go to:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/07/world/united-states-to-use-aid-to-promote-gay-rights-abroad.html?scp=1&sq=Clinton%20gay&st=cse

The new normal: Stay-at-home Dads and gay parents

By Deborah Skolnik, Parenting.com
updated 12:10 PM EST, Wed November 30, 2011

CNN.com — There was a time when gay parents and single adoptive mothers were unheard of, but the new norm is that almost anything works well as long as there’s a dedicated adult and plenty of love

Christopher Fraley, 42, and Victor Self, 41, Parents of 20-month-old Coco

Christopher Fraley and Victor Self have been married three times — to each other. They first exchanged vows in St. Barts in 2008, and again in South Africa on their honeymoon. Then this past summer, on July 24, 2011, they became the first same-sex couple in Rye, New York, to legally wed. Coco, their daughter, was right by their side.

Fraley and Self met in 2003. “I saw kids in my life, and Chris did, too,” Self remembers. Eventually, “we decided to get married,” adds Fraley, who works for an investment fund. He bought Self a ring, but didn’t ask Self’s mother for his hand. “Nobody is the wife,” he insists. “However,” he adds, “Victor and I will be offended if Coco’s suitor doesn’t ask us for her hand.”

While their attitude toward fatherhood is traditional, the way they became dads isn’t: Coco was born through a surrogate, using a donor egg. In expanding their family, Self and Fraley joined the growing number of same-sex parents in America today: somewhere between 1.5 million and 5 million, according to rough U.S. Census estimates, up from 300,000 to 500,000 in 1976.

The surrogacy process took two years: One egg donor became ill, then a first surrogate failed to get pregnant. But in February 2010, Kira, their second surrogate, gave birth to 8-pound-9-ounce Coco. “We post pictures of Coco on Facebook that Kira can look at,” says Self.

To read the complete article, go to: http://www.cnn.com/2011/11/29/living/the-new-normal-p/?hpt=us_mid

Hollywood now opening arms to gay characters, families

When it comes to gay marriage and gay families, politicians are still bickering and courts are still deliberating. But in entertainment, it’s all over but the shouting.

Hollywood, which once routinely depicted gay people as miserable, dysfunctional or tragic, now produces movies and TV shows — such as this summer’s film The Kids Are All Right, ABC’s Modern Family and Fox’s Glee — in which gay relationships and gay families are portrayed as just like other families — normal, unremarkable, no big deal.

“The general trajectory has them transitioning from minstrel acts and punch lines to relatable everyday characters,” says David Hauslaib, founder of Queerty, a media-watching blog “by and for the queer community.” He adds, “It’s a new era where (being a gay family) is no longer a significant part of the story.”

Why is this happening now? Is Hollywood following the culture, or is the culture following Hollywood?

STRAIGHT OR GAY: Casting goes both ways

 

Jarrett Barrios, president of GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, says it’s no accident that positive depictions of gay families are increasing.

“These stories are interesting, they’re edgy, they make for good entertainment,” he says. “Hollywood is a business, so they’re telling good stories because it’s good business. Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people have stories that are capturing the imaginations of Americans because fundamentally, we’re as American as everyone else.”

The Kids Are All Right is a comedy-drama starring Annette Bening and Julianne Moore as a couple with two teens, who refer to them collectively as “Moms.” The plot (sperm-donor dad turns up, leading to laughter and tears) isn’t driven by the lesbian relationship; it would work the same if the couple were straight.

“It’s the perfect post-gay film,” says Howard Bragman, a Hollywood publicist known as the “coming-out guru” for helping gay celebs go public. “Gays are just part of the landscape, which is where we want to be.”

The opposition speaks out

It’s a landscape that many Americans still don’t accept.

Such movies and TV shows “desensitize the public to the raft of problems associated with homosexual behavior,” says Bryan Fischer, director of issue analysis for the American Family Association, one of the proponents of Proposition 8, California’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage now tied up in court. “Hollywood is conveying a deceptive message about that behavior and doing a disservice to (viewers) who are coming to conclusions based on what they see on the silver screen. It’s a distortion of reality.”

Says Glenn Stanton, director of family studies for Focus on the Family: “When actual gay and lesbian weddings are shown on TV (as in news coverage), we win. When they’re shown through the lens and creativity and artifice of Hollywood, we don’t. Hollywood is succeeding, but they’re doing so by not representing reality.”

Defenders of films and TV shows that depict the ordinary, even mundane, details of gay family life say that’s exactly what it is — reality.

Kids, which is already stirring Oscar talk for Bening, is unclear about whether the women are legally married, but they behave as if they were married, their kids and other characters treat them as if they were married, and at one point one of the women actually says, “I’m married.”

“It shows how regular our families are; it goes a long way toward gay and lesbian families introducing ourselves to straight families as not that much different,” says Dustin Lance Black, the writer/director who won an Oscar for the screenplay of Milk, about murdered San Francisco politician Harvey Milk (played by straight actor Sean Penn, who won an Oscar). Milk was the first openly gay man elected to public office in California.

“And unlike in Milk and so many (past) gay movies, the lead characters don’t die,” Black adds.

For a small art-house film, Kids has demonstrated success at the box office: a respectable $18 million since it opened this summer. Director Lisa Cholodenko, herself a lesbian mom, says she didn’t set out to tell a political story or even a lesbian story; she set out to tell a family story.

“We wanted to make a film about a family and a marriage in midlife, at a low point, the things you don’t see in most movies about what families look like behind closed doors,” she told USA TODAY’s Donna Freydkin.

Gay-friendly roles on TV

Entertainment friendly to gays and gay relationships is proliferating, especially on TV.

•On Glee, a hit about the triumphs and travails of a high school glee club, the story line featured a subplot in which teen-age Kurt comes out as gay to his father, who is not as homophobic as expected.

•On Modern Family, the lineup includes a gay couple, played by Eric Stonestreet (straight) and Jesse Tyler Ferguson (gay), who have adopted a baby and are eagerly, comically trying to fit into the new-parent life. The show has been critically acclaimed and popular, and co-creator Steve Levitan says there has been virtually no push-back from opponents of gay marriage.

“We set out to do a family show with different kinds of families because it seemed to us that families are changing and (a gay family) was a logical type to explore,” Levitan says. “We didn’t think it was the most commercial choice. We thought it might marginalize our audience a bit, but much to our surprise, it hasn’t.”

•On ABC’s Ugly Betty, the final season ended this spring with an understated yet affecting episode in which Betty’s fashion-obsessed teen nephew, Justin, comes out to his loving Latino family, marking the first time a network audience watched a gay child grow up and embrace his identity. Other shows, such as Gossip Girl, United States of Tara, 90210 and Weeds, also have featured story lines about teens in various stages of self-recognition.

•A number of network dramas feature gay characters whose problems/issues have little to do with being gay. On Fox’s House, the bisexual Dr. Remy “Thirteen” Hadley has more angst about her Huntington’s disease than her sexuality. And on ABC’s Brothers & Sisters, the gay brother and his spouse are way less whiny and screwed up than some of his siblings.

•CBS, which received a failing grade recently in GLAAD’s annual report rating TV networks on use of gay characters and programming, just announced that three gay characters will be added to three shows next season: the highly regarded The Good Wife, the returning half-hour Rules of Engagement and new comedy $#*! My Dad Says.

CBS also will launch a The View-style show this fall featuring actress Sara Gilbert (Roseanne) as executive producer and panelist. Gilbert had never discussed her private life, but at the news conference announcing the show, she acknowledged she is a lesbian mother with a partner.

•At least two network shows this fall will feature story lines about California’s Proposition 8, according to AfterElton.com, which tracks depictions of gays in the media: NBC‘s new Law & Order: Los Angeles will explore the various religious groups that funded the campaign for Prop. 8, while cable channel FX‘s dark comedy It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphiawill showcase story lines about one character’s freak-out reaction to the marriage of a transgendered character, and two other male characters who form a domestic partnership to get health care benefits.

“I really do think every year it gets a little bit better,” says Candis Cayne, a transgendered actress who has appeared in ABC’s now-canceled Dirty Sexy Moneyand Lifetime’s hit Drop Dead Diva in transgendered roles.

‘There will come a day …’

“Five years ago, ABC would never have put on a transgendered woman in a loving relationship with someone — it just wouldn’t have happened,” says Cayne, who hopes to be cast in dramatic roles playing straight women. “There will come a day that will happen — I know it.”

So is the entertainment industry now ahead of the culture or just following it?

“The overarching movement is in the culture,” says Stephanie Coontz, history professor at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., and an expert on contemporary families. “Hollywood never had the courage or strength or ability to get positive portrayals of gays until things began to change in the culture at large.

“When it did, Hollywood jumped on it. But they couldn’t do it unless marketers and investors realized there’s an audience for it.”

Eric Stonestreet, left, and Jesse Tyler Ferguson play a couple getting used to being adoptive parents.