Gay parenting ‘boot camp’ moves to Asia to meet growing demand from China


The world’s largest “boot camp” to help gay men become parents will stage its first Asia event next month to address growing demand for surrogates from China and the region, organizers said on Thursday.

Men Having Babies
Men Having Babies Chairman Emeritus, Anthony M. Brown, speaks
at the New York City Gay Parenting Conference.

New York-based non-profit Men Having Babies (MHB) stages events across the world to provide advice and support to all LGBT+ people who want to become parents and plans to stage its first annual Asian event on March 9-10 in Taipei, Taiwan.

“We have been witnessing over the last three years, a growing interest from Asia – mostly Chinese – intended parents coming to the United States for surrogacy,” said Ron Poole-Dayan, founder and executive director at MHB.

Socially conservative attitudes prevail across most of Asia where Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei outlaw sexual relations between men, and Indonesia has seen an increase in raids targeting LGBT+ people.

But changes are happening, with India moving to scrap Section 377 outlawing same-sex relations last year, and Taiwan this week proposing a draft law to allow same-sex marriage.

The issue of lesbian and gay couples having access to medically-assisted reproductive treatments like IVF has stirred political debate recently in several countries.

Many countries, including Canada, Denmark, New Zealand, and Britain, ban for-profit surrogacy, although they allow some form of surrogacy if no payment is involved. In the United States, the legality of surrogacy is determined by each state.

Gay couples are banned from applying for surrogacy in countries such as Nigeria and Russia.

Poole-Dayan, who has 18-year-old twins with his husband, began MHB in 2005 with monthly workshops giving advice to gay men interested in becoming biological parents and now holds about seven conferences a year.

The two-day events, which are held across the United States, Europe, Canada and Israel, have made MHB the largest “boot camp” for gay parenting in the world, said Poole-Dayan.

He said the internet was flooded with people trying to push surrogacy information but it was hard to know where to start so the two-day events involved surrogate mothers and egg donors, doctors, lawyers and local clinic representatives.

“Our conferences are not meant to persuade to become parents … they are meant for people who already want to become parents (and) to make the process more accessible and easier,” Poole-Dayan told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“People are starting to realize .. the fact that they’re gay doesn’t mean that they’re not going to be able to have a full life including starting a family and having children.”

Reuters.com, by Michael Taylor, February 21, 2019

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The Right Way to Legalize Surrogacy in New York State


New York State is on the brink of replacing an outdated and prohibitive law that criminalizes the practice of compensated surrogacy, one of only two states that does so.

Legislation to reverse the law has been introduced in both houses of the state Legislature, and Governor Cuomo has demonstrated support for it by including it in his Executive Budget.

As a law professor who focuses on gender equity, I’ve taken great interest in issues related to surrogacy in the United States and abroad. I’ve closely reviewed laws in multiple states as well as internationally and I support New York’s legalization of surrogacy.

When a woman chooses to support a couple or individual by serving as a gestational surrogate (where she is not genetically connected to the child because she did not contribute her egg), I believe she must have the autonomy to do so – provided she is protected by the law to ensure that any power imbalance between her, on the one hand, and the intended parents, surrogacy agencies and doctors, on the other hand, is mitigated.

The proposal the New York Legislature is considering and that Governor Cuomo is advancing, the Child-Parent Security Act, does protect surrogates in many ways. While the bill clarifies the parentage of all children born through third-party reproduction, here I focus only on how it legalizes and regulates gestational surrogacy arrangements.

Protections provided by the bill include: giving the surrogate the sole right to make decisions regarding her own health or that of the fetus or embryo she is carrying; giving the surrogate the sole right to terminate the pregnancy; and ensuring that the surrogate is represented by her own legal counsel. These types of commonsense protections are critical to creating a successful and effective program. If the New York Legislature passed the Child-Parent Security Act, New York’s law would be more protective of women who choose to be surrogates than laws in many other states.

Reexamining current law is long past due as technological advances and changes in acceptance of various family structures have made surrogacy much more commonplace. When lawmakers first implemented a ban on surrogacy in New York in 1992, they did so for several reasons that are less relevant today.

For example, when the restrictive New York law was enacted, there were ethical concerns about what was then nascent medical treatment — in vitro fertilization (IVF). Today, IVF is commonly-accepted as treatment for infertility and is also used in the gestational surrogacy process.

Despite the ban, today New Yorkers do work with surrogates to build families. They are just required to employ surrogates living in other states. This results in legal challenges, risks, and costs for the intended parents, including confusion regarding what laws are applicable to the situation.

GothamGazzette.com, February 21, 2019 by Sital Kalantry

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Lingering flaws – Gendered Holdouts Nixed in NYS Marriage Equality Amendment

State Senate Republicans, after five years of resistance, support legislative fixes to lingering flaws in law

gay estate planning, family estate planning, estate planning NY

Roughly eight years after the passage of marriage equality in New York, the newly progressive State Senate finally overcame Republican obstruction to fix some lingering flaws in that law. 

The updated law, which unanimously sailed through the upper chamber and awaits another easy passage in the State Assembly, wipes out gendered language within the Estates, Powers, and Trusts Law (EPTL) and the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act (SCPA) in order to reflect the intentions of the Marriage Equality Act. 

Spearheaded by out gay Manhattan State Senator Brad Hoylman, the lingering flaws included provisions to remove “paternal” and “maternal” from the EPTL and SCPA and replace those with the phrases “of one parental side” and “the other parental side.” 

Another section of the EPTL was changed to say “spouses, husbands, or wives,” while the SCPA made similar adjustments by swapping out “the father or mother” with “parents” or “either parent.”

“Marriage equality is the law of the land, and all provisions of the law ought to reflect that,” Holyman told Gay City News in a written statement. “I’m proud to see the Democratic Conference acting to advance the rights of LGBTQ New Yorkers after Senate Republicans blocked this bill for five years.”

The law’s passage was a long time coming for Hoylman. But after six IDC members were dethroned during the September primaries and eight new Democrats snagged Republican seats, the blue wave opened up doors to pass a series of bills that were previously blocked by conservatives to fix these lingering flaws.

by Matt Tracy, GAyCityNews.com, February 15, 2019

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Kansas bill seeks to define same-sex marriage as ‘parody’


Kansas state representatives introduced legislation Wednesday that would define same-sex marriage as “parody marriage” and would prohibit the state from recognizing same-sex marriages or transgender people.

The bill seeks to establish an “elevated marriage” for straight couples, according to the Wichita Eagle.

The legislation would also allow controversial gay “conversion therapy” which seeks to change a gay person’s sexual orientation. Critics of conversion therapy say it is often inhumane and does not work.

Two bills were introduced, one that says same-sex marriages “erode community standards of decency.” It argues that civil rights for gay people are different than civil rights for black people because it claims that there are “no ex-blacks but there are thousands of ex-gays.” 

The measures would also prohibit public schools and libraries from hosting or endorsing “drag queen storytime.”

The legislation has very little chance of becoming law, according to the Eagle. The state’s Democratic governor is supportive of gay marriage and is likely to veto the bill if it passes the state legislature.

In an interview with the Eagle, the bill’s sponsor state Rep. Randy Garber (R) admitted that the language in the legislation is “kind of harsh.”

“Their marriage probably doesn’t affect me — their union or whatever you want to call it,” he said. “But in my opinion, they’re trying to force their beliefs on society.”

BY RACHEL FRAZIN – 02/14/19 – TheHill.com

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Embryo Donation May Be The Answer For You

If you are asking what to do with your extra embryos, embryo donation is a viable, and ethical, option.

Individuals and couples who have turned to IVF to help them have their families are now confronting a confounding question: what do we do with extra embryos?  Embryo donation is becoming the method of choice for many of us, myself included.  Every year when the embryo storage bill arrives, the ethical dilemma comes again.

The Process

Each clinic will have a different protocol to follow for directed embryo donation.  Most require an Embryo Donation Agreement between the donor parent/s and the recipient individual or couple, as well as a clearance for transfer, which includes such details as spousal consent (if one donor parent is not genetically related to the embryo) and which clinic’s cryopreservation equipment will be used.  Once all the pieces are in place, the process goes pretty fact.

To be prepared, it is a good idea to collect all of this information in advance from your fertility clinic.  They will provide you with your own health related information and, if a HIPAA waiver is prepared, the clinic may coordinate directly with the recipient’s clinic to streamline the process.

Embryo Donation Agreements

The requirement of an Embryo Donation Agreement makes good sense for all parties.  This agreement spells out the details of the transfer.  These details include: confidentiality and sharing of health information, physical and psychological screening of the donor/s and the recipient/s, custody of the embryos, intention regarding parentage of a child born through the embryo donation, the duration of the agreement timing and legal disclaimers as to the uncertainty of the law around embryo donation.

While the last item may cause alarm for some, it is generally understood that Embryo Donation Agreements are created to define the intention of the parties so that if, at some point in the future, there is a disagreement about the disposition of the embryos, there will be a document that anchors the intention of the parties to the original transfer date.

My Story

My husband and I were recently alerted to the closure of the fertility clinic that helped us have our son through egg donation and surrogacy.  As many gay men who turn to surrogacy know, with a young egg donor, you are likely to have more than one viable embryo.  We kept them in storage until now, but when confronted with the choice of transferring them to another facility or “discarding” them, we asked ourselves if embryo donation would be the best option.

We needed more input.  Our choice, when we had our son, was to remain involved in the lives of our egg donor and our surrogate mother.  We were fortunate enough to find two amazing women who wanted this type of ongoing relationship as well.  We wanted to include our egg donor in this “embryo” conversation because of our relationship.  When we emailed about the idea of embryo donation, she thought it was wonderful.  The thought of “discarding” our remaining embryos just didn’t feel right for any of us.

We agreed that we would try to find either a couple or individual who had been trying to have a child but could not.  Luckily, through our network of friends, we found the perfect person who was looking for a sibling for her son.  The thought of helping someone else have, or grow, their family makes me understand how surrogate mothers must feel.  I am in no way comparing our donation to the journey that is surrogacy, but I do feel that spark of love and hope that a child can bring.  Embryo donation doesn’t have to be a mystery.  It can offer peace of mind to families who find themselves asking what to do with extra embryos.  And you might be surprised whose dream of a family you can help come true.

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A new study suggests an LGBTQ millenials ‘Baby Boom’ is in our future

LGBTQ millennials are leading the way when it comes to the growth in LGBTQ families according to a new survey from the Family Equality Council, an LGBTQ rights organization.

LGBTQ millennials

The survey found that 63% of LGBTQ millennials between the ages of 18-35 are looking at starting a family or adding to their current one. What’s more, results from the LGBTQ Family Building Survey show that 77 percent of LGBTQ millennials are either already parents or are considering having children. This is 44 percent higher than LGBTQ people over the age of 55. 

The data points to a shift in the LGBTQ community in the wake of the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision which secured marriage equality in the United States. The U.S. Supreme Court ruling fueled speculation that we’d see a dramatic shift in LGBTQ family growth as a result.

Additionally, the survey revealed that 48 percent of LGBTQ millennials are actively planning to grow their families in the future, narrowing the gap between them and the 55 percent of non-LGBTQ respondents. In a 2013 Pew Research Center poll, only 35 percent of LGBTQ adults were shown to be parents, compared to 74 percent of non-LGBTQ adults.

That means in the last five years, the gap between queer and non-queer people wanting families went from 39 percent to 7 percent. Likewise, transgender survey respondents were found to be equally likely to grow their own families as their non-transgender peers.

by Gwendolyn Smith, LG BTQNation.com, February 10, 2019

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The long wait for legalized surrogacy may soon end in New York


A bill legalizing the practice is backed by the governor, fertility groups and LGBTQ activists, but opposed by some feminists and the Roman Catholic Church.

On a September evening in 2015, six weeks before their twins’ due date, Michael and Melissa Musman got an urgent call from the surrogate carrying their children. The babies needed to come out, the surrogate said, and if the Musmans wanted to be there for their birth, they had to come right away.

The Musmans, both 43, live in New York, one of only three states that currently ban paid surrogacy contracts. As a result, residents of the state must look elsewhere if they want to hire a surrogate; the Musmans found theirs in Pennsylvania.

Hoping they could pull off the nearly 400-mile drive from Brooklyn to Pittsburgh in time, they quickly packed a suitcase, made arrangements for someone to watch their older child and started driving.

“We knew there would be a chance that we would not make the birth,” said Melissa Musman, a teacher who turned to surrogacy after radiation for tumors in her pelvis and abdomen compromised her fertility. “With Pittsburgh, it’s not around the corner.”

Still, the couple was hopeful. They were not new to surrogacy. Using an egg donor and Michael Musman’s sperm, they had their first child, Sean, via a surrogate in Peoria, Illinois, in October 2008. It took two planes to get to Peoria, but they had made it for his birth.

This time, as they drove through the night, their twins arrived via an emergency Cesarean section in an operating room hundreds of miles away.

Advocates say it’s a way of helping infertile and gay couples start families. But commercial surrogacy has a slew of detractors, many of whom say it amounts to women selling their bodies.

For decades, the detractors in New York prevented it from becoming legal. Now, New York is on the brink of changing its policy, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, publicly declaring his support last weekend for a bill — called the Child-Parent Security Act — that would remove the ban. Cuomo also included the bill in his state budget proposal.

New York’s long-held resistance stems from a tumultuous surrogacy battle in neighboring New Jersey, known as the Baby M case. In 1985, a woman who was struggling financially, Mary Beth Whitehead, agreed to be a surrogate and be inseminated with sperm from William Stern, a man whose wife had multiple sclerosis, for $10,000.

by Elizabeth Chuck, NBCNews.com, February 7, 2019

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The Gay History of America’s Classic Children’s Books

From “Frog and Toad” to “Where the Wild Things Are,” many of the most enduring 20th-century titles share a secret language of queer compassion.

gay children's books

IN 1998, WHEN my sons were still too young to read by themselves, my partner and I gave them a picture book called “Lucy Goes to the Country.” It’s about a cat who lives with two gay men; you can tell by the tchotchkes.

The book, then just published, was evidently meant to help normalize already boringly normal families like ours by using the traditional substitution of animals for people in order to illustrate how much fun having gay dads can be. But the plot rang no bells for us as it built to its crisis: When the “big guys” give a party for colorful friends at their weekend house, a beehive ends up in the baba ghanouj, Lucy winds up in a tree and a hunky fireman comes to the rescue.

“The Hunky Fireman” would be a fine title for a very different kind of picture book, but his presence in this one made me wonder about the intended readership. (So did the name of a town en route to the country: Peckerwood.) And if you stopped to think about it, “Lucy” seemed to argue that the gay dads, however full of fun, were inadequate: When the pita chips were down, they needed rescuing, too.

Maybe that’s why my boys didn’t love it. Among gay-themed children’s stories, they preferred “Frog and Toad.” No, I know: “Frog and Toad” — a series of four picture books by Arnold Lobel, originally published between 1970 and 1979 — is not gay-themed. But it’s not not gay-themed either. The title characters are best friends, both male, who essentially spend their lives together. Toad, shorter and wartier, is a worrier. Frog, sleeker and greener, is an ameliorator. They wear tight pants, collarless jackets and no shirts: outfits that would surely look great on the hunky fireman.

But Lobel is careful to make Frog and Toad entirely nonsexual. They sleep apart, and Toad even dons a modest Edwardian bathing suit when he swims. Instead of innate animal passion, they model the elements of love that have to be discovered and cultivated: companionship, compromise, acceptance, good humor. They get into scrapes separately but get out of them together, which is not a bad definition of marriage.

Our boys loved the stories, as did we — but not because Lobel was gay. We didn’t even know that at the time; indeed, when he started writing the series, Lobel may not have known it himself. Not until 1974, after “Frog and Toad Are Friends” and “Frog and Toad Together” had been published, did he come out to his wife, the illustrator Anita Lobel, and their children. They continued to make books together for years: a Frog and Toad tale if ever there was one.

Still, Lobel’s gayness, when I learned of it much later, seemed like something I should have known all along; it lurked everywhere in his words and pictures. I don’t know how any parent, reading the stories aloud, uttering phrases like “Come back, Frog. I will be lonely!” in a heartsick, croaky voice, could avoid being forced into intimate sympathy with the animal and thus the author. Which is not to say Frog and Toad could turn you gay. But in their gentleness, their sensitivity to small gestures and their haze of slowly dispersing sadness, the stories were part of the literature of otherness that had been a central theme of adult fiction forever, if only more recently of children’s. They suggested, no less to us as gay parents than to our sons with their polar personalities, how separateness could become solidarity and oddness accommodation. Nor did Lobel neglect to show how much work it takes to achieve those victories, and how tenuous they can be; he died, in 1987, of complications from AIDS.

New York Times, February 7, 2019 by Jesse Green

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