ABA Adopts Resolution Taking a Stand for LGBT Parents

The American Bar Association, ABA, the nation’s top voluntary bar association for lawyers, has adopted a resolution taking a stand for LGBT parents in the aftermath of states enacting laws enabling anti-LGBT discrimination in adoption.

ABA resolution

According to the LGBT Bar Association, Resolution 113 was adopted at the ABA midyear meeting in Las Vegas, Nev. The 14-page resolution says although the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2015 same-sex couples have the right to marry, they still face discrimination in adoption in forms of anti-LGBT state laws and policies.

Among the laws cited the resolution are recently adopted state laws allowing taxpayer-funded adoption agencies to refuse placement into LGBT homes over religious objections. Those laws exist in North Dakota, Virginia, Michigan, Mississippi, South Dakota, Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and South Carolina.

The resolution also cites continued litigation in which the rights of LGBT parents are in jeopardy. Among those cases is Pavan v. Smith, in which Arkansas refused to place the names of lesbian parents on their child birth certificates. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that policy violated its decision on same-sex marriage (although U.S. Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch penned a lengthy dissent containing the ruling didn’t apply to birth certificates.)

The ABA resolution adopts the resolution in the wake of the Trump administration granting a waiver to South Carolina allowing religious-based adoption agencies in the state, including Miracle Hill Ministries, to continue receive funding from the Department of Health & Human Services even if they refuse to place children in LGBT homes or with other families contrary to their beliefs.

ABA resolution

“Any discriminatory law which restricts an LGBT individual’s right to parent not only disregards these precedents, but also contradicts longstanding research,” the resolution says. “Decades of medical, psychological, sociological, and developmental research overwhelmingly conclude that sexual orientation has no bearing on an individual’s ability to be a fit parent. This resolution therefore reaffirms the equal parenting rights of LGBT individuals.”

According to a study from the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, LGBT families are significantly more likely than their non-LGBT counterparts to have adopted or foster children. One in five same-sex couples, or 21.4 percent, are raising adopted children, compared to just 3 percent of different-sex couples, and 2.9 percent of same-sex couples have foster children compared to 0.4 percent of different-sex couples

The resolution states adoption of the resolution sends the message ABA “stands with LGBT individuals and their families against the increased threat to their ability to raise children.”

“This ABA policy position would enable further advocacy in this area by providing authority for other organizations, legislatures, and courts to consult when confronted by LGBT parenting issues,” the resolution says. “The policy would also allow the ABA to directly advocate on behalf of LGBT families and make clear its stance that laws which permit discrimination against LGBT individuals are unconstitutional.”

by Chris Johnson, pride source.com, January 29, 2019

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Jussie Smollett, Star of ‘Empire,’ Attacked in What Police Call a Possible Hate Crime

Jussie Smollett, one of the stars of “Empire,” in 2016. The Chicago police said he took himself to Northwestern Hospital after the attack and was described as in “good condition.”

Jussie Smollett, one of the stars of the Fox television show “Empire,” was attacked in Chicago early Tuesday morning by two people who yelled racial and homophobic slurs and wrapped a rope around his neck, according to the police, who said they were investigating the incident as “a possible hate crime.”

Smollett, who is black and publicly came out as gay in 2015, was walking on a downtown street when two people approached him and yelled the slurs, according to a statement from the Chicago Police Department. The attackers then began hitting Smollett in the face and poured an “unknown chemical substance” on him.

One of the attackers also wrapped a rope around Smollett’s neck before the duo fled.

“Given the severity of the allegations, we are taking this investigation very seriously and treating it as a possible hate crime,” the police statement said.

The Chicago Sun-Times, citing a police spokesman, said that Smollett went to an apartment after the attack, and his manager called the police. When officers arrived, a “thin, light rope” was still around Smollett’s neck, said the spokesman.

Officers suggested Smollett go to the hospital for lacerations on his face and neck. His manager took him there, and he was later released.

In a follow-up interview later in the morning, The Sun-Times reported, Smollett told the police that the attackers yelled “this is MAGA country,” a reference to President Trump’s campaign slogan.

‘I Have to Stay Alive’: Gay Brazilian Lawmaker Gives Up Seat Amid Threats

An openly gay federal Brazilian lawmaker who has frequently clashed with the country’s new far-right president said on Thursday that he was giving up his seat because of death threats.

The lawmaker, Jean Wyllys, a fierce advocate for gay rights who was due to be sworn in for a third term in February, said in an interview with the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo that “this environment isn’t safe for me” after the assassination of a political ally last March and violence that followed the election of the president, Jair Bolsonaro, in October.

“For the future of this cause,” Mr. Wyllys said, “I have to stay alive. I don’t want to be a martyr.” He added that he was currently on vacation abroad and did not plan to return to Brazil.

Mr. Wyllys called Mr. Bolsonaro, a former colleague of his in the lower house of Congress, “a president who always vilified me, who always openly insulted me, who was always homophobic with me.”

In 2016, Mr. Wyllys responded by spitting at Mr. Bolsonaro during the hearing to impeach President Dilma Rousseff. Mr. Bolsonaro, before reinventing himself as a fighter of political corruption and rampant violence, was best known for delivering verbal attacks on women, black people and gay people from the congressional floor. 

Shortly after Mr. Wyllys’ interview was published, Mr. Bolsonaro, who was in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum, tweeted “Great day!” and a thumbs-up emoticon. Supporters weighed in, many with homophobic comments.

Mr. Wyllys has been the target of death threats for years, but he said those threats had become more severe after Marielle Franco, a human rights advocate who was his friend and political ally, was assassinated.

NYTimes.com, January 25, 2019 by Shasta Darlington

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It’s easier now for gay men to adopt. But they still face lots of pushback, and weird questions.

Ten years ago in the United States, a couple of gay men hoping to become fathers may have considered their dream too outsized or even impossible.

Until the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act by 2015, many states did not recognize marriage between same-sex partners — levying a major strike against a couple of men seeking to adopt or match with a surrogate.

gay dads

Now, they are on the cover of Parents MagazineA recent report from ReWire.News suggests that becoming fathers is easier than it once was for gay men. But the evidence is largely anecdotal. There is no clearinghouse, for example, that reports on the clientele of private adoption and surrogacy agencies, heterosexual or otherwise, or how long couples wait to become parents. And there is still plenty of resistance to gay parents, as the petition by One Million Moms against the cover of Shaun T and husband Scott Blokker in Parents Magazine attests.

On Parenting spoke with four gay men who had all entered fatherhood in the past 10 years through different means. One adopted through foster care, and another had an open adoption through a private agency. Another worked with a surrogate in the United States, and one worked with a surrogate overseas. Their experiences and geographies were varied, but several themes emerged. The road toward fatherhood may be more smoothly paved than it was 10 years ago, but there are still significant challenges.

Money in the bank

Jared Gertner of Los Angeles said he often hears a particular encouragement to would-be parents: “Everyone tells you, ‘No one is ever ready to have a child, so just go for it!’ But as a gay man, the opposite is true.”

For men who want to become fathers in the United States without a female sexual partner, there are options. They invariably require a lot of paperwork, and often a lot of money and a long time waiting.

This due process isn’t a bad thing, said Julian Chang of San Diego, who adopted his son four years ago with his husband, Wade Estey. “If everyone had to be fingerprinted and produce their tax records in order to become parents, there would be a lot more wanted children in this world,” Chang said.

With the exception of adoption through foster care, though, the financial costs are often tantamount to buying a car or even a house outright.

By Kendra Lee Stanton, WashingtonPost.com, January 25, 2019

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Gay Dads Cover ‘Parents’ Magazine; Christian Group Launches Petition

A Christian group opposed to LGBT rights has launched a petition in response to a gay dads being featured on the cover of Parents magazine.

Gay dads Shaun T. and Scott Blokker and their one-year-old twins cover the February issue ofParents, making them the first same-sex couple to appear on the magazine’s cover in its nearly 100-year history.

One Million Moms condemned the magazine’s decision to feature a gay couple on its cover, saying that it was promoting a “pro-homosexual lifestyle.”

Parents is using its magazine as a platform to promote the pro-homosexual lifestyle,” the group said. “Even if families do not personally subscribe to the publication, they should be warned that it could be displayed in waiting rooms of dentist and doctor offices, where children could easily be subjected to the glorification of same-sex parents, particularly gay dads. Many families subscribe to Parents and should be aware of the upcoming change of content in this magazine. After all, most conservative and Christian families will disagree morally with the magazine’s decision, and subsequently, will not want to support its content.”

“Mothers and fathers are seeing more and more similar examples of children being indoctrinated to perceive same-sex couples as normal, especially in the media. Likewise, the magazine’s website, Parents.com, and their other social media pages also push pro-homosexual content. Parents is the latest print media company to abandon what it does best in order to force a lifestyle on the American public that the medical community identifies as unhealthy. Rather than focusing on parenting tips, the publication shames Americans into embracing such a lifestyle,” the group continued.

ontopmag.com, January 22, 2019, by Carlos Santoscoy

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Supreme Court Revives Transgender Ban for Military Service

The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted the Trump administration’s request to allow it to bar most transgender people from serving in the military while cases challenging the policy make their way to the court.

Trump LGBT

The administration’s policy reversed a 2016 decision by the Obama administration to open the military to transgender service members. It generally prohibits transgender people from military service but makes exceptions for those already serving openly and those willing to serve “in their biological sex.”

The vote to lift two injunctions blocking the policy issued by lower courts was 5 to 4, with the Supreme Court’s five conservative members in the majority.

Lawyers questioning the new policy said there was no need to enforce it while the cases challenging it moved forward.

“Transgender people have been serving openly in all branches of the United States military since June 2016, including on active duty in combat zones,” their brief said. “Transgender individuals have been permitted to enlist in the military since January 2018.”

“The government has presented no evidence that their doing so harms military readiness, effectiveness or lethality,” the brief said.

In granting stays of injunctions issued by Federal District Court judges in California and Washington State, the justices in the majority may have been influenced by the complaint by the administration that lower courts have been able to frustrate its policies by the issuance of injunctions applying to the entire country.

“It is with great reluctance that we seek such emergency relief in this court,” Solicitor General Noel J. Francisco wrote. “Unfortunately, this case is part of a growing trend in which federal district courts, at the behest of particular plaintiffs, have issued nationwide injunctions, typically on a preliminary basis, against major policy initiatives.”

“Such injunctions previously were rare, but in recent years they have become routine,” he wrote. “In less than two years, federal courts have issued 25 of them, blocking a wide range of significant policies involving national security, national defense, immigration and domestic issues.”

New York Times, January 22, 2019 by Adam Liptak

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Insanity Founder Shaun T Opens Up about Twin Life After 12 Pregnancy Attempts With 5 Surrogates

Shaun T

Aside from trying to get the world physically fit, Shaun T and Scott Blokker are raising baby twins. Easy, right?!

Six years ago, fitness trainer Shaun T, creator of the Insanity workout and the new Transform :20 program, was ready to start a family with his husband and business partner, Scott Blokker. But the journey wasn’t easy. “We went through all the things that couples struggling with fertility go through: tests, doubt, grief, not knowing, waiting,” Scott says.

Twelve attempts, six egg donors, five surrogates, two doctors, one miscarriage, and thousands of dollars later, their two adorable sons, Silas Rhys and Sander Vaughn, arrived. Though they share the same egg donor, Sander is from Shaun’s sperm and Silas is from Scott’s sperm. Their surrogate delivered them two minutes apart. “Ask all the questions you want,” Shaun says when people wonder how the boys came to be. Adds Scott, “It blows my mind how much I’ve learned.”

The boys turned 1 in November, and their dads could not be more proud, especially after all they’ve been through. The babies were born at 32 weeks and spent the first three weeks in the NICU. “On their last night there, we had no monitors, no nurses, just us,” says Shaun. “I remember thinking, ‘This will be a piece of cake.’ I was so wrong. They cried nonstop!”

Well, guys, welcome to parenthood! Scott and Shaun speak of the first four months of parenting twins as an almost comically dark time in their lives. “It was terrible,” says Shaun, laughing. “We got into more fights than we’d ever had in our entire relationship.” Scott adds, “I even questioned whether we’d ruined our marriage by having kids, but it wasn’t the kids. It was the not sleeping!”

Two preemies meant both parents doing every feeding around the clock. “No more than two hours of sleep at a time for weeks in a row is killer,” says Scott. Meanwhile, Sander wouldn’t eat, or if he did, he’d spit up. “We felt bad, but at 3 a.m. it was, ‘Okay, who wants Sander?’ ” Shaun says.

Eventually, the babies started to sleep through the night, and so did Shaun and Scott. Like magic, conflicts abated. They divided and conquered. Scott says he’s the family manager, while Shaun is the cruise director. “I do all the planning—babysitters, shopping, doctors—and Shaun brings the fun.”

Non-gender specific birth certificates to be used for same-sex couples in Ireland

The current options of ‘Mother’ or Father’ pose problems for same-sex couples

birth certificate

Same-sex couples who are parents in Ireland will be able to list themselves as ‘parent’ on their child’s birth certificate.

This amendment to the law is designed to accommodate to same-sex couples, allowing both partners to register on their child’s birth certificate.

Under the current system, birth certificates only include the categories ‘Mother’ and ‘Father’.

Birth certificates for donor-assisted children born to same-sex couples currently only allow one mother to be listed.

‘Introduced as soon as possible’

Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty said that allowing to the option of ‘parent’ would resolve such issues, saying implementing the bill would be prioritized.

‘While the changes proposed will affect a relatively small number of people, they touch on matters that are very sensitive and of great importance to those families affected,’ Doherty said.

‘I have met with and spoken to many affected by this issue and I am now very pleased to be able to bring these changes forward as a priority to ensure that they can be introduced as soon as possible.’

The case had been raised in the Dáil (the Lower House of the Irish parliament) last year, according to TheJournal.ie.

Politician Richard Boyd Barrett said that a pregnant woman had contacted him with concerns about her wife not being able to register on their child’s birth certificate.

The completed bill will go before the Houses of the Oireachtas in the spring.

GayStarNews.com by Calum Stuart, January 12, 2019

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LGBT refugees more vulnerable in Trump’s America

Since Donald Trump became president, I have never seen so much hate being meted out against immigrants, let alone LGBT refugees and asylum seekers like me. 

lgbt refugees

I am from the Democratic Republic of Congo and fled my homeland to escape homophobia. I made my way to South Africa, but experienced additional mistreatment because of my race and gender identity. This mistreatment included a police officer who broke my wrist. I came to the U.S. on Nov. 20, 2014. I was working on fighting housing and employment discrimination. Some of the people who I met were very friendly and welcoming.

After Trump’s election in 2016, internalized hatred of LGBT immigrants and refugees became a reality. I lost my job simply because I am a gay immigrant. I could see the different treatment of LGBT Americans, I have been forced out of housing, harassed at school, treated like a social outcast everywhere I go. I filed a discrimination case pending with California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing on the basis of immigration status that was ultimately dismissed because I believe the very people who were discriminating against me contacted the DFEH and probably told them that I am a black tranny immigrant who has no rights in Trump’s America. I have been a target of police surveillance for months. It has been a living hell in a safe haven. 

Most of my harassers happen to be mostly gay men or transgender women. I think it is because my gender transcends the male and female gender binary. Homonationalism — the abandonment of intersectional activism that leaves the door open to racism, xenophobia, capitalism and the promotion of one’s own interests — is real and I see it everyday. The last time that I went to socialize in a gay-friendly environment I was verbally attacked at a bar in the Castro simply because I was talking to a handsome gay American man. I tried to defend myself and then those gay men threatened to call the police on me and then took me by the throat and escorted me outside. I was walking past the same area the next day and I saw them laughing at me and saying that I am not allowed to socialize in that area again. 

The reason why I am writing this is because we as LGBT people shouldn’t be fighting against each other or hating each other because that is what our homophobic enemies want from us. They want to divide us in order to conquer us. 

In my experience, most LGBT Americans who I have met treated me like an outsider, an outcast, an enemy, an alien who must go back to where I came from. I don’t know where this intense hatred is coming from. We say we support human rights and equality, and those rights are not only American. They are universal and of course LGBT people are universal. Some are tolerated in their countries but some are persecuted. This is why we are seeking asylum because simply living openly in our countries means death and the communities of our countries in Canada, America or Western Europe come with their homophobia attached to them, so there is no place for us among them. 

WashingtonBlade.com, by Junior Nsamia Mayema – January 11, 2019

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The Justice Department OK’d My Firing in the Name of Religious Liberty


Michael J. Stern, who nearly lost his job as a federal prosecutor due to antigay bias, wonders what additional damage Trump’s “religious liberty” moves will bring.

During his tenure as Donald Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions announced the formation of a Religious Liberty Task Force. This task force, powered by the federal government’s Department of Justice, is supposed to ensure religious liberty for all. But I know the real intent behind its creation. You see, I have been on the receiving end of DOJ’s efforts to spread religious liberty. It nearly cost me my career and pulled me into a rabbit hole of depression from which I was unsure I’d escape.   

After finishing law school in the mid-1980s, I moved back to my hometown in Michigan and was hired by a state prosecutor’s office just outside of Detroit.  I loved the work. I was prosecuting murder, rape, and child abuse cases, and I felt a sense of accomplishment in making my community safer. I was working 70-hour weeks, and I quickly rose through the ranks to the elite handful of attorneys who handled only felony trials. I had a track record of success with difficult cases, and the elected prosecutor had confidence in my work, so he often assigned me to high-profile cases that got a lot of media attention. Soon I was recruited by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit. 

I felt a beaming sense of pride when the Department of Justice offered me a job as a federal prosecutor. When I joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office, a month before the decade rolled into 1990, I was 29, the youngest federal prosecutor in an office of more than 100 attorneys. Even in gray Detroit, I saw only blue skies ahead of me. 

Like all other newly hired federal prosecutors, until my security clearance was completed, I was allowed to work but not access classified information. A few months into the job, two FBI agents walked into my office unannounced. After introducing themselves, they informed me that they had been assigned to investigate my application for a security clearance. I could tell from the looks on their faces that something was wrong. 

One of the agents asked me if I led an “alternative lifestyle.” I knew what he meant. In that moment of panic, I weighed my options. I responded with my default setting: I told the truth. “I do not lead an ‘alternative lifestyle,’ but if you’re asking me if I’m gay, the answer to that question is yes.” 

The brief discussion that ensued was not pretty. What I remember most from the discussion were the phrases “moral standards,” “subject to blackmail,” and “possible discharge.” I assured the FBI agents that I was not subject to blackmail.  My close family and friends knew that I was gay, and if I had to, I would be willing to come out more publicly to foreclose any possibility that being gay would subject me to blackmail. But that did not work. Although the agents were polite and professional, they made clear that a gay man did not meet the DOJ’s moral standards. When I asked if my job was in jeopardy, they answered yes. 

By Michael Stern, Advocate.com, January 7, 2019

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