Gay married couple sues after daughter denied U.S. citizenship

The Maryland couple’s infant daughter was born in Canada to a surrogate mother earlier this year.

A gay married couple in Maryland is suing to challenge the State Department’s refusal to recognize the U.S. citizenship of their infant daughter, who was born in Canada to a surrogate mother this year.

gay married couple

Photo Courtesy of Immigration Equality.

The federal lawsuit, filed Thursday, says a State Department policy unlawfully treats the children of married same-sex couples as if they were born out of wedlock.

The plaintiffs, Roee and Adiel Kiviti, had their first child, Lev, in 2016; he was born in Canada via surrogacy and has had U.S. citizenship since birth. However, their second child, Kessem, was born in 2019, after the Trump administration began enforcing the Immigration and Nationality Act’s provision that children born “out of wedlock” do not automatically obtain U.S. citizenship.

 

The State Department’s application team has in several cases categorized the children of same-sex couples that use fertility services, like sperm donors and surrogacy, as born “out of wedlock.” An attorney for the Kiviti family says their suit is at least the fourth such case to challenge the policy.

Immigration Equality, an LGBTQ immigration advocacy group, is leading the court effort to gain birthright citizenship for these children. The organization is working with the Kivitis and the other three known families suing the State Department for the same reason: Andrew and Elad Dvash-Banks; Allison Blixt and Stefania Zaccari; and Derek Mize and Jonathan Gregg.

NBCNews.com by The Associated Press and Tim Fitzsimmons, Septemeber 12, 2019

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Gay fathers study shows they receive less parental leave than other couples

Gay fathers study shows they received the same number of weeks off as different-sex couples in just 12% of 33 countries studied

Gay fathers study shows that around the world they receive less paid parental leave than lesbian or heterosexual couples, researchers said on Thursday, with many left struggling to pay household bills if they opt to spend more time at home with their children.gay fathers

The study by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) examined paternity laws in 33 member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that offer paid leave to new parents.

First published in the Journal of Social Policy, the research found that gay male couples received the same number of weeks off as different-sex couples in just 12% of those nations.

Lesbian couples received equitable time off in just under 60% of the countries studied, researchers found after examining legislation gathered by the International Labour Organization in 2016. Some countries have since updated their leave policies.

“A lot of the differences in leave stem from gender stereotypes where women are the primary caregivers,” Elizabeth Wong, the lead author, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“That not only affects heterosexual couples, it greatly disadvantages same-sex male couples.”

Laws in most countries did not prohibit same-sex couples from paid leave, but policies only referenced the needs of heterosexual couples and did not acknowledge same-sex couples.

As of 2019, same-sex marriage was legal in less than 30 countries, and gay sex remains illegal in about 70 countries.

The rise of far-right political parties around the world has raised concern around LGBT+ rights, and the fight for parenthood or adoption rights is a legislative battle even in countries like Germany.

On average, same-sex male couples had five fewer months of paid leave than different-sex couples, while same-sex females received three fewer months than heterosexual couples, researchers said.

The study did not address transgender or non-binary couples.

Australia, New Zealand, Iceland and Sweden were the only countries to offer the same paid leave to all couples, including gay men, ranging from 18 to 70 weeks.

While companies in Switzerland often offer parental leave to men, only a minority of people benefited, said Jody Heymann, a director at WORLD Policy Analysis Center.

“There’s little doubt that if you want to avoid discrimination, it’s far better for paid leave to be done through social insurance,” said Heymann of government funded public health programs.

A 2018 report from the WORLD Policy Analysis Center found that OECD countries that offered six months paid parental leave saw increased numbers of workers and no change to unemployment or economic growth.

Thomson Reuters Foundation by Kate Ryan, September 5, 2019

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The unintended consequences of Canada surrogacy law changes (Opinion)

There are unintended consequences to Proposed Canada surrogacy law changes.

Canada is considered an international surrogacy destination, with progressive laws that have attracted couples internationally. But, in just over nine months, a new Canadian fertility landscape will be born, bringing new regulations for reimbursing surrogates and donors. In fertility circles – both in Canada and beyond – there is fear that these new regulations by law will discourage people from becoming surrogates and donors.Canada surrogacy law

The new regulations from Health Canada, which come into effect June 9, 2020, set out exhaustive categories of reimbursable expenses – a big change from the current system, which does not specify what can be reimbursed and allows for wide interpretation of what constitutes a “reasonable expense.” That wide interpretation has allowed for flexibility in customizing fertility arrangements but may have a huge effect on Canada surrogacy law.

When the new rules take effect, eligible expenses will, for instance, include travel, insurance and legal fees, as well as counselling services and care for dependents and pets. The idea is to offer more certainty about which reimbursements are legitimate – and to allay any fears about being subjected to criminal sanctions.

Federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor has said that the regulations would provide couples struggling with infertility, single individuals, same-sex couples and others in the LGBTQ2 community more flexibility in building families. Couples will have the option to offer surrogates reimbursements for certain products and services beyond the actual pregnancy and into the postpartum period, which was not previously the case. This might make it easier for couples to obtain a surrogate, as they can provide reassurance that expenses related to potential health complications arising after the delivery will be reimbursed. But at the same time, the new regulations introduce more onerous requirements for reimbursement by requiring surrogates and donors to complete signed declarations in addition to providing receipts (surrogates are exempted from providing receipts under certain circumstances).

The biggest concern is that the regulations will likely make it even more difficult to access assisted reproduction, including medical procedures such as in-vitro fertilization, to conceive a child with the help of a surrogate and/or donor. The fear is that the new regulations will further discourage individuals from becoming surrogates and donors. Currently, surrogates and donors in Canada are driven by altruistic motivations, since it remains illegal to pay a surrogate for her services or pay for ova or sperm from a donor. However, if potential surrogates and donors risk not being reimbursed for reasonable out-of-pocket expenses, they may be dissuaded from helping others build families.

Alarmingly, the draft guidance document interpreting the regulations released by Health Canada states that “[t]here is no obligation to reimburse, meaning that only persons who wish to reimburse eligible expenditures will do so.” This could lead to exploitation of donors and surrogates. (The guidance document has not yet been finalized; consultation on it closed on July 26.)

www.theglobeandmail.com by Melissa Salfi, September 6, 2019

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Trump Tells Supreme Court LGBTQ Workers Can Be Fired

Administration continues to target queer people in the workplace

One week after the Trump administration filed a Supreme Court brief arguing that people should be able to get fired based on their gender identity, the president’s team returned to file yet another brief — this time arguing that gay workers should be able to get fired simply because of their sexual orientation.Kavanaugh court

The administra­tion’s brief on August 23 stated that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act “makes clear that it does not” cover workers on the basis of sexual orientation, while the brief filed the previous week stated that the law “does not bar discrimination because of transgender status.”

In the brief targeting gay workers, the administration stated that Congress “of course remains free to legislate in this area,” even as Republicans in both houses have overwhelmingly continued to reject LGBTQ rights bills. GOP lawmakers most recently mounted strong resistance to the Equality Act, which would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act and related federal laws to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. That bill passed the house but faces dim prospects in the Republican-controlled Senate.

The administration stated in the brief that unless Congress acts on LGBTQ discrimination, “this court shall enforce the statue as it is written.”

The Trump administration has mounted an increasingly aggressive assault on the rights of queer workers just weeks before the Supreme Court is slated to begin hearing arguments about whether LGBTQ employees are protected under the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The president’s recent barrage of attacks on queer employees also included an August 14 proposed rule that would give federal contractors wide ability to use religion to justify discrimination against LGBTQ workers. That rule would effectively gut President Obama’s 2014 executive order implementing protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in federal contracting.

gaycitynews.com by Matt Tracy, August 23, 2019

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China’s Parliament Says No to Marriage Equality

Political leader says changing law would go against “cultural traditions”

Barely three months after Taiwan solidified same-sex marriage rights, political leaders in Beijing are shutting down any discussion of extending those rights to the Chinese mainland.China's parliament

Zang Tiewei, a spokesperson for China’s Parliament, told reporters during a recent press conference that Chinese law only allows for marriage between a man and a woman.

The discussion surrounding marriage rights in China is surfacing at a time of political uncertainty in Hong Kong, where protests have persisted for months over controversial extradition legislation and other political issues related to the future of the “one country, two systems” model under which the territory is governed.

Emboldened activists in Hong Kong have also set their sights on marriage rights in the former British territory, where a nonprofit organization called Hong Kong Marriage Equality was launched earlier this month, according to the South China Morning Post. Activists there are embarking on a campaign to educate Chinese people about LGBTQ rights and warm them up to the idea of same-sex marriage.

There have been some signs of progress for LGBTQ rights in Hong Kong in particular. China’s Court of Final Appeal earlier this summer ruled that same-sex partners in the city can file joint tax returns and that gay civil servants have a right to spousal benefits like healthcare coverage.

But no such progress appears on the horizon on the mainland. Tiewei, according to Reuters, stated that existing law “suits our country’s national condition and historical and cultural traditions. As far as I know, the vast majority of countries in the world do not recognize the legalization of same-sex marriage.”

Evan Wolfson, who spent years at the forefront of the American fight for marriage equality as the founder and president of Freedom to Marry, isn’t buying Tiewei’s cultural justification for rejecting the rights of same-sex couples in China.

gaycitysnew.com by Matt Tracy, August 23, 2019

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Trump has a devastating record on LGBTQ rights. Don’t deny the truth.

President Trump’s dismissal of “fake news” means his constituencies can believe whatever they want about him and his actions — even if their beliefs are in mind-bogglingly stark opposition to one another.

Religious extremists opposed to LGBTQ equality can confidently tout Trump as being down with their agenda by pointing to a speech in February in which Trump defended state-funded adoption agencies that turn away gay couples on religious grounds. Trump supporters who want to believe the opposite will point to a tweet he sent recognizing “LGBT Pride Month.”Trump LGBTQ

But it’s the religious crusaders who are correct — and in rare agreement with most LGBTQ activists. The Trump administration’s continued assaults on LGBTQ rights are nothing short of breathtaking. And yet, Trump’s supporters who don’t want to acknowledge this aspect of the administration find ways to bury this part of his record in the chaos.

Last week alone, there were two major salvos in the Trumpian war on LGBTQ Americans.

The Justice Department filed a brief Friday urging the Supreme Court to allow employers to turn away or fire transgender workers based solely on their gender identity. The department is expected to file a similar brief this week in a separate case asking the high court to legalize discrimination against gay, lesbian and bisexual workers, as well.

On Aug. 14, the Labor Department proposed a rule rolling back an executive order that President Barack Obama signed in 2014 banning anti-LGBTQ discrimination among federal contractors — an order that the Trump administration said in 2017 would remain “intact.” The religious right was ecstatic, while Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, called the regulation “a broad and sweeping effort to implement a license to discriminate.”

Yet, in the same week, in a stellar example of Trump supporters believing whatever they want, the Log Cabin Republicans, a group of “LGBT Republicans and straight allies,” announced its endorsement of Trump’s reelection bid in an op-ed in The Post. It was a particularly striking decision, given that in 2016, the group declined to endorse him . Now, it astonishingly declared, Trump has moved “past the culture wars” and taken “bold actions that benefit the LGBTQ community.”

What planet has this group been living on? And what has changed since the Log Cabin Republicans declined to endorse George W. Bush in 2004 over his support of a federal constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality? Trump’s record distinguishes him as among the most hostile presidents in history on the issue of LGBTQ equality. He is bowing to religious extremists in the GOP base in ways that could set back more than 30 years of progress, backing their demands for religious exemptions allowing discrimination. Even Bush, a devout evangelical Christian, didn’t roll back his predecessor’s pro-gay executive orders, such as one that President Bill Clinton signed banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in the federal workforce.

But Trump began unraveling Obama-era progress on LGBTQ rights almost immediately. Within its first weeks, his administration withdrew an Obama directive on treatment of transgender students. A few months later, Trump fired off a tweet announcing that he’d reinstate a ban — which Obama had ended — on transgender people serving in the military. This year, the Department of Health and Human Services moved to strip anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people in the Affordable Care Act.

WashingtonPost.com, August 20, 2019 by Michelangelo Signorile

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Families of gay kids were once seen as the enemy by support groups. That’s changing.

Families of gay kids were once seen as the enemy by support groups. That’s changing.

David Pitches, 74, a retired New York architect, never came out to his parents when he was a teenager growing up in Yonkers. “We were a silent family,” he says. “Coming out to them seemed to entail a family intimacy that I never had, or cared to have.”families of gay kids

Even after his parents figured it out years later, Pitches always felt they disapproved. “My father believed that gay people should lead their lives in private, and my mother never accepted it, even to her dying day at age 94,” he says. “Growing up in the ’50s was not a fun thing for a dreamy little boy who was gay.”

Even if families sought to understand the implications of their child being gay in what was, at the time, an anti-gay culture, they had nowhere to turn for support.

“The idea that I singly, or with them, would ever think to get some sort of therapy or program for coping was absolutely beyond their or my ken,” he says. “I was a deviant, and an embarrassment, who was best kept undercover or well-closeted.”

Fast forward to 2012, when Wendy Williams Montgomery, then a devout member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, discovered that her 13-old son was gay. “Learning this felt both confusing and scary for me,” she says. “It was never a question of: Do I still love him? Can I still accept him? My question was: How do I do this as Mormon? Am I going to have to choose between the God I love, and the child I love?”

For two weeks, she couldn’t eat or sleep. She sought understanding from the church, but found only hostility.

“The message I was receiving by my church leaders, family members, friends and printed text was that my son was broken in an irreparable way, and would have to suffer through a truly horrific life until he died, at which time he would be ‘fixed’ and straight like the rest of us in heaven,” says Montgomery, who quit the Mormon Church five years later.

Fast forward to 2012, when Wendy Williams Montgomery, then a devout member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, discovered that her 13-old son was gay. “Learning this felt both confusing and scary for me,” she says. “It was never a question of: Do I still love him? Can I still accept him? My question was: How do I do this as Mormon? Am I going to have to choose between the God I love, and the child I love?”

For two weeks, she couldn’t eat or sleep. She sought understanding from the church, but found only hostility.

“The message I was receiving by my church leaders, family members, friends and printed text was that my son was broken in an irreparable way, and would have to suffer through a truly horrific life until he died, at which time he would be ‘fixed’ and straight like the rest of us in heaven,” says Montgomery, who quit the Mormon Church five years later.

WashingtonPost.com, August 20, 2019 by Marlene Cimons

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Anti-Gay Tomi Lahren Dragged for Trying to Use LGBTQ People as an Issue Against AOC and ‘The Squad’

Tomi Lahren, the Fox Nation host who’s been mocked as “white power Barbie,” could also be called anti-LGBT Tomi. Time and time again, often out of the blue, Lahren has railed against the LGBTQ community.

But now Lahren is getting slammed for a tweet she posted, trying to use LGBTQ people as an issue against the progressive Congresswomen known as “The Squad,” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY), Ilhan Omar (MN), Ayanna Pressley (MA), and Rashida Tlaib (MI).Lehren

Lahren posted a link to a Fox News article, “Palestinian Authority bans LGBTQ activities in West Bank, reports say.”

If Lahren were an LGBBTQ supporter, advocate, or ally, perhaps her taunt might have worked, a bit, but she’s not.

Just two weeks ago, after the El Paso and Dayton mass shooting massacres, Lahren tried to use the LGBTQ community to advance her extremist pro-gun agenda, claiming gun rights are gay rights. It bombed.

A month ago Lahren told World Cup champion Megan Rapinoe, that she’s actually not a hero.

Earlier this year Lahren stoked outrage when she lied, falsely claiming “The Left” says “we MUST be tolerant of Sharia Law” and “stoning of gays.”

And in February Lahren went ballistic – out of the blue slamming the LGBT community for “this ongoing and continual assault on masculinity and “attacking traditional men and marriage at every turn.”

So, it’s not surprising that Lahren got totally dragged Monday for her latest ignorant tweet.

Take a look:

www.thenewcivilrightsmovement.com, August 19, 2019 by David Badesh

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Babies and broken hearts: Ukraine’s commercial surrogacy industry leaves a trail of disasters

This is the moment. I arrive at the Sonechko Children’s Home, a collection of rundown double-story brick buildings in a city south east of Kiev, the Ukrainian capital.

I’m here to meet a little girl I’ve been searching for over the past six months.

She’s been abandoned by the very people who paid for her to be born — her American parents.Australia surrogacy

Now she’s an orphan and has disabilities which require medical attention.

Marina Boyko, the flame-haired nurse who’s cared for the little girl since she was a baby, is taking us to meet her.

The door to the child’s room opens and the emotion hits hard.

My investigation began last year.

“Have any foreigners left a baby behind?” I asked.

It was a simple question and an obvious one.

“An American couple left one last year,” came the answer.

I hung up the phone to my source in Kiev and so began months of work to find a baby born via a surrogate in Ukraine and then abandoned by the American parents.

Sadly, I was familiar with this kind of story.

Back in 2014, I found Gammy, a baby boy whose birth was “commissioned” by an Australian couple.

They left him behind in Thailand to be cared for by his surrogate mother.

The couple only wanted to bring Gammy’s twin sister home.

Again, the child was left behind by his Australian parents after they decided they’d only take his twin sister home. I never found him.

These were just some of the horror stories which prompted Thailand and India to ban commercial surrogacy for foreigners.

As a result, Ukraine is quickly becoming the “hot” new surrogacy destination.

But while the country has changed, the story remains the same.

I’m now hearing there’s a child who’s been abandoned in Ukraine. I know that finding her won’t be easy.

Then I searched for a baby boy in India on assignment for Foreign Correspondent in 2015.

After countless phone calls, finally there’s a breakthrough.

With the help of local Ukrainian journalists, we find out the child we’re looking for is alive and being cared for in a town called Zaporizhzhya — a large industrial centre south-east of the capital, Kiev.

It’s a leap of faith, but we book flights from London and make the journey.

We don’t know what we’ll see or what we’ll be able to film, but sometimes being on the ground is the only way.

We’re directed to the Sonechko Children’s Home on the edge of the city, where some 200 children live.

When we arrive, it’s eerily quiet. There’s no children’s chatter or laughter, not a cry, not a squeal. It’s like they’ve been silenced for our benefit.

The staff know we are coming but they are wary. We know this first visit will be about building trust.

They invite us in and we interview them about a child they speak of with deep and genuine affection, but we are told we cannot see her as she is sick and quarantined in a nearby hospital.

August 19, 2019, by abc.net.au, Samantha Hawley

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A Gay Couple Had To Flee Russia For The Crime Of Caring For Their Adopted Children

The gay couple, who had to leave Russia after authorities threatened to take away their 12- and 14-year-old sons, spoke with Russian-language outlet Meduza about their plight.

When Andrey Vaganov’s 12-year-old son complained of stomach pains in June, the ambulance rushed him to one of Russia’s top pediatric hospitals. The ache turned out to be nothing, but while there, the child told the hospital staff that he and his brother don’t have a mother who lives with them — they have two fathers.russia gay

The revelation that Vaganov and his partner, Evgeny Erofeyev, have been raising their adopted sons together for nearly a decade put them squarely in the crosshairs of the Russian authorities. Since then, the couple have had to flee the country with their two sons, accused of breaking Russia’s infamous “gay propaganda law” simply by letting their children know that they are married. The law, which makes teaching minors about LGBTQ issues illegal, didn’t pass until 2013, years after the children were adopted. Since then, it has been used as a weapon against the gay community in Russia more broadly, allowing for state-sanctioned harassment of activists and persecution of individuals like Vaganov and Erofeyev.

In an interview with Ivan Golunov, an investigative reporter with Meduza, an independent Russian-language news outlet, the couple explained how they became targets of Russia’s anti-gay laws. Vaganov had adopted his elder son, Denis, in 2009, and then his second, Yuri, two and a half years later. It was around that time that Vaganov met and soon married Erofeyev, a businessman like himself, in a ceremony in Denmark, which recognizes same-sex marriages.

gay russia“We never asked our children to hide anything,” Vaganov told Meduza. “This was our conscious position, explaining why is it somehow stigmatizing and so on.” But Yuri’s admission to the hospital staff was a complication — before the child left the hospital, Vaganov was told that he and his son would need to report to the police the next morning to answer some questions. The two showed up as requested to meet with an investigator and a juvenile affairs official, with Vaganov insisting that his lawyer be present.

By the time the first interview was over, what had started as a false alarm caused by Yuri eating too much had become a news story. While carrying out his questioning, Vaganov said, the investigator handling the “preinvestigation check” frequently had to step out of the room to speak with his superiors. Soon Vaganov’s phone began to ring with journalists who had learned about the situation from a Telegram channel known for publishing confidential details about Russian law enforcement’s investigations.

Buzzfeednews.com, by Hayes Brown – August 12. 2109

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