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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New York’s surrogacy laws may get a major update to be more inclusive of queer families – Child Parent Security Act

A broad coalition of organizations has come together to support the passage of the Child Parent Security Act this year.

The Child Parent Security Act would change New York law, allowing for better protections for those using modern reproductive strategies such as in vitro fertilization.

The law would legalize the right to use paid surrogates in the state. At current, New York only allows unpaid surrogacy while also declaring invalid any contracts between surrogates and parents. This puts both parents and surrogates at risk

“New York is known as a place where every type of family is welcome. Unfortunately, our state’s progressive ideals fall short when it comes to supporting LGBTQ people and so many others who want to become parents,” said Family Equality Council CEO Rev. Stan J. Sloan.

“New York’s outdated laws lag far behind most other states in easing the burden for families who rely on assisted reproductive technology to become parents. Fifty years after Stonewall, it’s time to protect all New York families.”

Calling themselves the Protecting Modern Families Coalition, the group is advocating on behalf of families who rely on medical advances to have families. The push to support the passage of the Child Parent Security Act is their first formal act.

The Family Equality Council formed the council. It is made up of eleven groups, including LGBTQ advocacy groups such as the Human Rights Campaign and Lambda Legal, plus other organizations like the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the Union Theological Seminary. 

New York banned the use of paid surrogates in 1992, a reaction to New Jersey’s “Baby M.” case where a surrogate mother, Mary Beth Whitehead, had a change of heart and asserted her parental rights. The court ruled that the surrogacy contract Whitehead entered into with William and Elizabeth Stern was invalid. 

In the years since that case, both medical advances and societal change have driven a new look at surrogacy. The New York Department of Health’s Task Force on Life and the Laws recommended that the law be changed in December of 2017.

UK surrogacy law embraces single parents from today

UK surrogacy law embraces single parents from today

compassionate surrogacy

Today the clock also starts ticking on the six month window during which existing single parents through surrogacy can apply for a parental order retrospectively. The window will close on 2 July 2019, with applications beyond that possible but more complicated. If you are a single parent of a child born through surrogacy and would like more information about whether and how to make an application then contact us by emailing hello@ngalaw.co.uk or calling 0203 701 5915.

To mark today’s law change, we wanted to reflect on our campaigning journey of the last ten years. It all started in 2008 when, as part of making UK fertility law more inclusive, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill 2008 proposed broadening who could apply for a parental order from just married couples to married, unmarried and same-sex couples. Single parents remained excluded so, through her work as part of a stakeholders’ group supporting progressive reform, NGA Law founder Natalie Gamble proposed and drafted an amendment to the Bill which would have included single parents too. Her amendment was tabled by Dr Evan Harris MP when the Bill was in Committee, but not pursued when it became clear the government did not support it. On behalf of the government Dawn Primarolo MP said:

Surrogacy is such a sensitive issue, fraught with potential complications such as the surrogate mother being entitled to change her mind and decide to keep her baby, that the 1990 Act quite specifically limits parental orders to married couples where the gametes of at least one of them are used. That recognises the magnitude of a situation in which a person becomes pregnant with the express intention of handing the child over to someone else, and the responsibility that that places on the people who will receive the child. There is an argument, which the Government have acknowledged in the Bill, that such a responsibility is likely to be better handled by a couple than a single man or woman.

There was no evidence basis for such a statement, but it was clear that discrimination against single parents was government policy rather than oversight.

At both NGA Law and Brilliant Beginnings we continued to help single parents through surrogacy as we have always done. The lack of availability of parental orders hasn’t stopped single mums and dads having children through surrogacy. It has, however, made things harder and restricted the legal recognition of their families. All but two of the single parents we have worked with have had to go overseas to find a surrogate and almost all have then lived under the radar, without parental responsibility and with their surrogate remaining their child’s legal mother in the U.K., hoping that no one would ever question their authority to parent. We have shared their frustration about how unfair and discriminatory the law was.

By Natalie Gamble, NGA Blog, January 3, 2019

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Singapore allows same-sex fathers to adopt their surrogate son

In a landmark decision, Singapore’s highest court has allowed a gay couple to adopt their son, who was conceived through surrogacy in the United States.

The case began in December 2014 when fathers “James” and “Shawn” applied for James – whose sperm was used for the assisted reproduction – to adopt their son, “Noel”, hoping to remove the stigma of illegitimacy. Their real names have not been disclosed.

James and Shawn, who heard the news at 10.25am through their lawyers, were elated. They had gone to work as usual, despite knowing the judgment would be released on Monday morning.

“It was business as usual because we didn’t want to get our hopes too high,” said James, who is a doctor.

Shawn works in the marketing industry. Both men are 45, of Chinese ethnicity, and are Singaporeans. The men have been in a relationship for 13 years, living together since 2003.

James said the family was happy and relieved that the Court of Appeal has allowed the adoption of Noel.

“The fight to raise our family in Singapore has been a long and difficult journey,” he said. “We hope that the adoption will increase the chances of our son to be able to stay in Singapore with his family. His grandparents and us really want Singapore to be the home of our family. Our family will celebrate this significant milestone.”His grandparents and us really want Singapore to be the home of our family. Our family will celebrate this significant milestoneJames, father

The process was treated as single-parent adoption and will confer to James sole parental rights and responsibility for the child. Both fathers hoped this will make it easier for Noel, now four years old, to acquire Singapore citizenship. The South China Morning Post in January reported on the family’s legal limbo. Noel had been rejected for citizenship and at the time the fathers applied for his adoption, Noel was on a dependent’s pass that has since been renewed every six months.

Last year, the couple had their bid rejected by the Family Justice Courts one day after Christmas, although District Judge Shobha Nair said Noel would be provided for, with or without an adoption order.

By Kok Xinghui, TheStar.com, December 17, 2018

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WHAT POLYAMOROUS & MULTI-PARENT FAMILIES SHOULD DO TO PROTECT THEIR RIGHTS

Families with more than two adults are on the rise, along with other families of choice beyond a nuclear model. 

Many don’t realize that legal options exist to provide stability and protect these family connections. If you’re in one of these families, take steps to secure and clarify your parenting or partnership rights when legally possible, and make contracts between yourselves to minimize potential disagreements.

three parent custody

What kinds of families have more than two adults?

My clients and community include polyamorous families of three or more committed partners, some of whom may be metamours – those who share a partner and familial bond without being romantically connected. Some of these polyamorous families include children, and some of those co-parent as three or four, while others maintain the structure of two parents with their other partner(s) as loving adults to their children like aunts and uncles, but not parents.  (It is critical to pick a side, as I’ll explain below.)

These polyamorous families have overlapping legal concerns with multi-parent families, which are most often a female same-sex couple who are co-parenting with a platonic male friend, who does not relinquish his rights as a sperm donor but instead stays on as a dad, sometimes with a partner of his own in the parenting mix. This can be a much more organic and affordable option for biological parenting for gay men as compared to surrogacy, which often costs over $100,000 and several years of effort with matching programs, physicians and attorneys. Multi-parent families also arise in non-LGBTQ contexts, in which a woman might have two men in her life who take on the role of father (perhaps one who is a husband and one who is the biological father).

Finally, these issues overlap with platonic partnering, in which two or more adults who are not in a romantic relationship band together to live as a family, which may include female friends (or sisters) sharing a household and parenting duties, a woman opting to co-parent with her gay best friend, an adult banding together with a romantic couple as a family, or a small group of friends wishing to create the bonds of family. If the Golden Girls wished to share end of life caregiving, finances, estate-planning, and hospital visitation as family, they’d be in this category (and I’d love to have them as clients).

Let’s recognize the solidarity between all of these family forms, along with same-sex couples and those bucking the norm to live single or redefine their partnership, as different expressions of the desire to choose families in our own way outside of the heterosexual nuclear family model. We’re all in that movement together.

Are you a dad or a donor? Mommy or auntie? Be clear on whether a third adult is a parent.

When people create families of choice, they don’t have clear cultural models to follow. Many of us wing it, which can lead to misunderstandings and legal ambiguities. I see this most often with ambiguous parenting status. This happens sometimes when a female same-sex couple or single mother finds a male friend to “help” create a turkey baster baby, without making a clearly negotiated agreement on whether that male friend is a sperm donor with no rights or responsibilities or a father. This also happens when a polyamorous couple with children invites a serious partner to live with them as a family, without agreeing on the role this adult will play in their child’s life. Sometimes I see these families when disputes or misunderstandings have occurred – and I’d much rather help people sort this out in advance through clear communication and a written agreement.

by Diana Adams, Esq. – Family Law Institute Blog Post December 17, 2018

Click here to read the entire blog post.

Kentucky Appellate Court Rejects Lesbian Co-Parent Custody/Visitation Claim, Reversing Family Court

kentucky
Not So Welcome

Adopting a narrow construction of the Kentucky Supreme Court’s historic same-sex co-parent ruling, Mullins v. Picklesimer, 317 S.W.3d 569 (Ky. 2010), a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals of Kentucky, ruling on November 30, reversed a decision by Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Deana D. McDonald, and ruled that Teri Whitehouse, the former union partner of Tammie Delaney, is not entitled to joint custody and parenting time with a child born to Delaney during the women’s relationship.  From comments in concurring opinions, it seems clear that this Kentucky Court of Appeals panel deems the U.S. Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision, Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S. Ct. 2584 (2015), to require a bright-line test, under which it will be extremely difficult for unmarried partners to claim parental rights.  The opinion confirms the fears of some critics of the marriage equality movement who predicted that achieving same-sex marriage could undermine the interests of LGBT parents who chose not to marry.

The case is Delaney v. Whitehouse, 2018 WL 6266774, 2018 Ky. App. Unpub. LEXIS 844 (Ky. Ct. App., Nov. 30, 2018).  The court designated the opinion as “not to be published,” which means it is not supposed to be cited and argued as precedent for any other case, although Kentucky court rules say that an “unpublished” decision may be cited for consideration by a court if there is no published opinion that would adequately address the issue before the court.  The whole idea of “unpublished” decisions is archaic, of course, when such opinions are released and published in full text in on-line legal services such as Westlaw, Lexis, and Bloomberg Law, and readily available to practicing lawyers and the courts.

The opinion for the panel by Judge Robert G. Johnson (whose term expired after he wrote the opinion but before it was released by the court) accepts Judge McDonald’s factual findings, but disputes their legal significance.  McDonald found that the parties were in a romantic relationship and participated jointly in the decision to have a child, including the insemination process.  “The parties treated each other as equal partners and clearly intended to create a parent-like relationship” between Whitehead and the child, found Judge McDonald, who also found that “they held themselves out as the parents of this child since before conception.  They engaged in the process of selecting a [sperm] donor together, they attended appointments prior to insemination together, [Whitehouse] was present for the birth, and she has been known to the child as Momma.  The parties participated in a union ceremony, after the birth of the child, and they held themselves out as a family unit with friends and family.”

by Art Leonard, artleonardobservation.com, December 8, 2018

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Cambodia’s surrogate mothers go free after agreeing to raise Chinese children but some see it as a mixed blessing

  • Cambodia banned commercial surrogacy in 2016, and police in June raided two flats where Sophea and 31 other surrogate mothers were being cared for in Phnom Penh
  • They were charged the following month with violating human-trafficking laws, but authorities released them on bail last week, under the condition they raise the children themselves
Cambodia

Sophea was eight months pregnant when Cambodian police told her she would have to keep the baby that was never meant to be hers – and forfeit the US$10,000 she was promised for acting as a surrogate for a Chinese couple.

Cambodia banned commercial surrogacy in 2016, and police in June raided two flats where Sophea and 31 other surrogate mothers were being cared for in Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh.

They were charged the following month with violating human-trafficking laws, but authorities released them on bail last week, under the condition they raise the children themselves.

Campaigners say Cambodia’s surrogacy crackdown is unlikely to end the trade as poverty means many women will continue to risk arrest for the chance to earn life-changing sums of money.

For some of the newly freed women, keeping their baby is a burden as they struggle to get by. For others, it is a relief.

Despite the financial loss, 24-year-old Sophea said she was happy the authorities intervened, and that her family had welcomed her baby boy.

South China Morning Post, December 11, 2018

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DOJ Hires Kerri Kupac, Anti-LGBTQ Spokesperson

Alliance Defending Freedom’s Kerri Kupec reported to be new Public Affairs chief

LGBTQ

The Justice Department has hired Kerri Kupac,  a new spokesperson drawn from a leading anti-LGBTQ litigation group, according to The Daily Beast.

Kerri Kupec, who has worked with the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), will serve as the DOJ’s director of the Office of Public Affairs. She recently worked in the campaign to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who faced serious allegations of sexual assault dating back to his time in high school.

Kupec played a visible and vocal role at ADF, which represented bakery owner Jack Phillips in the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission Supreme Court case. In that case, the court ruled in favor of Phillips, who refused to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple. The decision, however, was decided on narrow grounds that did not settle the underlying question of a business’ right to claim a religious exemption from nondiscrimination laws.

December 7, 2018, by Matt Tracy, GayCityNews.nyc

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