Anthony M. Brown Featured on the Podcast, The Mentor Esq.

The Mentor Esq., a new legal podcast, recently featured Anthony M. Brown, founder of Time For Families Law, PLLC.

The Mentor EsqThe Mentor Esq. was founded by Andrew J. Smiley, the famed personal injury attorney in New York City, to help younger attorneys, and seasoned attorneys, to learn more about specific areas of the law and about the profession of law itself.  Episodes of The Mentor Esq. cover such topics as civil rights work to women in the law, as well as the ABCs of trial work, from opening statements to cross examination.

This is the first season of The Mentor Esq. and Andrew is currently planning for season 2.  While there are numerous areas of the law, and attorneys, that he could focus on, I am grateful that Andrew allowed me to tell my story and share my concerns for the future of LGBTQ law in New York, as well as in the Country.

Anthony’s Start in The Law

Andrew reached out to Anthony to join The Mentor, Esq. podcast to discuss two separate issues.  On episode four of the podcast, Anthony discusses how he came to the law after a career as an actor and a medical massage therapist.  Andrew asked Anthony about how he started his practice and who guided him along the way.  Click here to listen to Anthony talking about his pathway to the law.   Younger attorneys will find this episode particularly interesting because Anthony discusses new ways to look at your career, especially at its inception, by thinking outside of the box and planning ahead for what you want your legal practice to focus on and how it intersects with your personal life.

LGBTQ Family Law

Andrew asked Anthony back to the podcast to discuss more specific topics such as LGBTQ family formation and the current state of surrogacy in New York.  With current legislation in New York up for a vote very soon, Anthony discusses the specifics off The Child Parent Security Act – the pending law which would legalize compensated surrogacy and provide for parentage orders, which would allow for lesbian couples with known sperm donors to avoid the second parent adoption process altogether.  The Child Parent Security Act would bring New York’s family law into the 21st century.

If these issues mean something to you, it is definitely worth your time to check out The Mentor Esq.  A full episode list can be found here.

Anthony M. Brown, November 26, 2019

 

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Federal Court Overrules Board of Immigration Appeals’ Denial of Spousal Petition by Gay Man

U.S. District Judge Mary Rowland, an out lesbian whose nomination to the federal bench by President Donald J. Trump was recently confirmed by the Senate, has ruled that the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) erred in denying a petition by Thomas Valdivia, Jr., a U.S. citizen, to award spousal residency rights to his husband, Radu Cheslerean, a Romanian citizen.  Valdivia v. Barr, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 191616 (N.D. Ill., Nov. 5, 2019). 

The Board, affirming a district director’s decision to deny the petition, rested its ruling on its conclusion that Cheslerean had previously married a woman in order to obtain U.S. immigration benefits.Trump appeals court

The story begins on December 31, 2005, when Cheslerean attended a New Year’s Eve party and met Nina Garcia, whom he married about a month later.  In August 2006, Garcia filed an I-130 Petition with the Immigration Service, seeking U.S. spousal residency rights for her husband. That November, Garcia and Cheslerean went with their lawyer to an interview at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services field office in Chicago.  After the interview, nothing happened until July 31, 2009, when the Chicago office director issued a Notice of Intent to Deny the I-130 petition.  In September 2009, USCIS denied the petition and Garcia appealed to the BIA, which dismissed the appeal in February, 2011.  Several months later, Garcia and Cheslerean divorced.  The Judgment of Divorce states that they “lived separate and apart as of March 15, 2007, and had no children together.

Several years later, Cheslerean married Valdivia on May 17, 2015.  On September 6, 2016, Valdivia filed an I-130 petition on behalf of Cheslerean, and the men were interviewed at the Chicago Field Office on January 12, 2017.  When the office issued a Notice of Intent to Deny, Cheslerean submitted an affidavit explaining his two marriages.  He stated that in his “relationship with Nina, we did not plan ahead, or have insurance or much other evidence of a commingled life because we had very little money, and any savings we had we would just spend.  We were young and immature and didn’t think about the future or plan ahead.”  Describing his relationship with Valdivia, Cheslerean wrote that he grew up in a conservative Christian orthodox family that treated homosexuality as a sin, and “coming to terms with who I am and living my life authentically as a gay man was a painful journey and it took me a lot longer than it takes other gay men these days.”  But the Chicago Director denied Valdivia’s petition in March 2017, and the BIA dismissed his appeal on December 14, 2017, leading to this lawsuit.

The premise for the BIA’s decision is a section of the immigration statute that says a Form I-130 cannot be approved if the beneficiary (in this case Cheslerean) has ever sought immigration benefits based on a marriage entered into to evade immigration laws — what the Immigration Service refers to as a “sham marriage.”  The agency and the BIA concluded that the marriage with Garcia had been for the purpose of getting immigration benefits and was not a genuine marriage.  Cheslerean tells a different story, and in this lawsuit, Valdivia and Cheslerean contend that neither marriage was a sham marriage, each was genuine in its own way, even though the earlier one did not last very long and came apart when Garcia’s I-130 Petition was finally denied by the BIA.

The BIA specifically emphasized an affidavit that Valdivia had filed in 2009 in support of Garcia’s petition of the I-130 on behalf of Cheslerean.  The BIA argued that “Valdivia offered no explanation in his 2017 affidavit (submitted in support of his own I-130 Petition on behalf of Cheslerean) why he did not include his account of the 2007 events in his 2009 affidavit filed in support of Cheslerean’s marriage to Garcia.”  In responding to this lawsuit, BIA argued that the two affidavits “created issues of credibility for all concerned” because Valdivia’s 2017 affidavit “made it obvious that he was being less than fully candid in August of 2009 when he did not disclose the true nature of his relationship to Cheslerean.”

artleonardobservations.com, November 12, 2019 by Arthur Leonard

Click here to read the entire article.

 

More than half of top US newspapers failed to cover Trump’s anti-LGBTQ foster care and adoption rule

Only 22 of the nation’s top 50 newspapers reported on the November 1 rule allowing discrimination against LGBTQ youth and prospective parents

Most of the top 50 newspapers in the U.S. failed to cover a proposed anti-LGBTQ rule from the Trump-Pence administration’s Department of Health and Human Services that removes language protecting people from discrimination in HHS grant programs, including protections on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Trump adoption Foster care

The proposed rule, introduced on November 1, will allow federally funded adoption and foster care agencies to refuse to work with prospective LGBTQ parents. The rule will also apply to grants involving “HIV and sexually transmitted disease prevention, other public health initiatives, health education, prekindergarten programs and more,” according to The Washington Post. HHS said it would begin enforcing the change immediately. 

The Trump-Pence administration’s most recent anti-LGBTQ rule is part of its relentless crusade against the rights of LGBTQ people. Over the past three years, the administration has rolled back federal nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people in housing, health care, education, and employment, among other areas. 

The new anti-LGBTQ rule will have particularly devastating effects on children in the U.S. foster care system. Julie Kruse, director of federal policy at the LGBTQ advocacy group Family Equality, has said that the rule will “further limit the pool of loving homes available to America’s 440,000 foster children.” Considering that LGBTQ youth are already overrepresented in the foster care system and are more likely to face foster care placement instability, it is clear that this rule will further marginalize an already vulnerable population.

A Media Matters review of the top 50 U.S. newspapers — identified by average Sunday circulation according to Pew Research Center — found that 28 did not run a single news report in print or online about the HHS rule following its announcement on November 1 through November 10. These newspapers were:

  • The Arizona Republic, The Boston Globe, The Buffalo News, The Cincinnati Enquirer, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland), The Dallas Morning News, The Denver Post, The Columbus Dispatch, El Nuevo Dia (Puerto Rico), Detroit Free Press, The Indianapolis Star, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Los Angeles Times, MLive (Michigan), NJ.com (New Jersey), Newsday (New York City), New York Post, The Orange County Register, Omaha World-Herald, The Oregonian, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk), Honolulu Star Advertiser, Chicago Sun-Times, The Post-Standard (Syracuse), Tampa Bay Times, The St. Paul Pioneer Press, and USA Today.

Twenty-two of the top 50 newspapers did feature online or print news articles on the new rule, including running stories from The Associated Press and other wires, from November 1 through November 10:

  • The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, The Baltimore Sun, Chicago Tribune, Houston Chronicle, Hartford Courant, The Kansas City Star, The Mercury News, San Antonio Express-News, New York Daily News, The New York Times, Orlando Sentinel, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Sacramento Bee, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Seattle Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, Star Tribune (Minneapolis), St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Sun Sentinel (South Florida), The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal.

Two outlets — NJ.com and The Boston Globe — ran op-eds about the rule but no news reporting. 

MediaMetters.org, By Alex Paterson, November 11, 2019

Click here to read the entire article.

 

‘Men Having Babies’ to Make Case for New York Surrogacy Reform

New York Surrogacy Reform – Come this Friday to hear how Men Having Babies and other advocates plan to pass surrogacy reform in NY.

Since it’s very first meeting in the form of a 2005 support group for biological gay dads and dads-to-be, Men Having Babies (MHB) has been advocating and educating folks on surrogacy. This has taken place in the form of many elements including conferences for those considering surrogacy, their Gay Parenting Assistance Program which helps fund many gay men undertaking the expensive surrogacy journey to fatherhood, and their extensive directory and review system on surrogacy agencies and clinics.New York surrogacy reform

MHB has recently moved further to make their conferences a meeting place for committed surrogacy and gay parenting supporters, including parents, surrogates, researchers, professionals, and policymakers by creating the Advocacy and Research Forum for Surrogacy and LGBT Parenting (ARF). The New York surrogacy reform program is part of this effort.  The program provides opportunities for formal and facilitated discussions about topics and developments relevant to parenting through surrogacy and / or by LGBT parents.

Now, in the aftermath of the stalled Child Parent Security Act (the CPSA bill), which was set to reverse the ban on compensated surrogacy in the state of New York, Men Having Babies have gone a step further. As part of the ARF initiative, this Friday November 8 in New York City, Men Having Babies welcomes folks to join them at an open to the public event: The Case for NY Surrogacy Reform. [with the link]

As part of the ARF initiative, this Friday November 8 in New York City, Men Having Babies welcomes folks to join them at an open to the public event: The Case for NY Surrogacy Reform.

“While we think it is the most comprehensive and thoughtful surrogacy legislation ever drafted, the CPSA also faced criticism and claims that not enough discussion has taken place about ethical concerns,” said Ron Poole-Dayan, the Executive Director of Men Having Babies. His response, along with others, was to create Friday’s event and “to offer historical and international perspectives on this debate, a review of relevant research findings, and a thorough analysis on how we think the proposed surrogacy legislation addresses core ethical issues and essential best practices,”

For the event this Friday in New York City, Men Having Babies has partnered with RESOLVE: The National Infertility AssociationFamily Equality CouncilStonewall Democrats of NYCThe Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys, and Equality NY among others. Together, they’re assembling more than 30 speakers, and their goal is to contribute to an informed public debate on the issue, and bring in “a wide range of perspectives from surrogates, their young adult children, children born through surrogacy, academic researchers, representatives of national community organizations and international human rights organizations, and legal, mental health and medical experts.”

Organizers are inviting lawmakers, community activists, professionals, academicians, students, parents and prospective parents to listen and offer feedback. More than 100 already registered.

The Senate passed the CPSA earlier this year, and it is likely to come up for a vote in the Assembly later this legislative season.

Gayswithkids.com, November 6, 2019

Click here to read the entire article.

Ireland to List Both Same-Sex Parents on Child’s Birth Certificate

There’s a major loophole in Ireland in the Same-sex birth certificate new regulations, however.

Ireland will soon allow both same-sex parents to be listed on their child’s birth certificate for the first time.Ireland gay

On Monday, Health Minister Simon Harris announced that the Emerald Isle will be moving forward with new regulations intended to prevent discrimination against LGBTQ+ families. Under current policy, only the parent that is biologically related to a child is permitted to have their name printed on the baby’s birth records.

The updated guidelines will make room for same-sex couples who concieve using a sperm donor to both be considered their child’s legal parents.

Under current procedure, a lesbian who uses an anonymous sperm donor to have a baby with her legally wedded wife would have to apply for guardianship to have any rights to the child. Ireland voted in favor of marriage equality in May 2015 in a historic referendum, with 62 percent of voters supporting the freedom to marry.

However, there remain loopholes in the law that will continue to be used to target gay male couples. The proposed updates do not cover same-sex parents who conceieve using IVF, meaning that a gay man will not automatically be deemed his child’s legal guardian if his husband uses an egg donor to have a baby. He would be forced to go through an expensive, taxing legal process to claim that right. 

Equality for Children, a nonprofit which campaigned to raise awareness of the discriminatory policies, blasted the new regulations. In a statement, Founder Ranae Von Meding claimed the updates are “not a win” for same-sex parents.

“The signing of this commencement order has already been delayed seven times over the last five years, and only a fraction of LGBT+ families and their children will be covered by it,” said Von Meding, who has two children with her wife. “My family, along with many others, will continue to be left behind.”

Von Meding told the Irish women’s news site Her that “50 percent of children would be left behind by this legislation.

out.com, November 4, 2019 by Nico Lang

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Adoption Groups Could Turn Away L.G.B.T. Families Under Trump Proposed Adoption Rule

The Trump administration seeks to roll back an Obama-era adoption rule that classified sexual orientation and gender identity as classes protected from discrimination.

A proposed rule by the Trump administration would allow foster care and adoption agencies to deny their services to L.G.B.T. families on faith-based grounds.Trump adoption

The proposal would have “enormous” effects and touch the lives of a large number of people, Denise Brogan-Kator, chief policy officer at Family Equality, an advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families, said on Saturday.

The Department of Health and Human Services on Friday released the proposed rule, which would roll back a 2016 discriminationregulation instituted by the administration of President Barack Obama that included sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes.

Any organization — including foster care and adoption agencies or other entities that get department funding — is “now free to discriminate” if it wants to, Ms. Brogan-Kator said.

The proposed rule could be published in the Federal Register as early as Monday, followed by a 30-day comment period. After that, the comments will close and it will become final rule.

Critics, such as Ms. Brogan-Kator, said the rule would allow organizations to place their personal religious beliefs above the needs of children in their care, but the administration countered that it was not preventing L.G.B.T. people from adopting.

“The administration is rolling back an Obama-era rule that was proposed in the 12 o’clock hour of the last administration that jeopardizes the ability of faith-based providers to continue serving their communities,” the White House said in a statement on Saturday. “The federal government should not be in the business of forcing child welfare providers to choose between helping children and their faith.”

According to the Adoption Network, there are more than 400,000 children in the foster care system in the United States. More than 114,000 cannot be returned to their families and are waiting to be adopted.

The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law estimated in a report that 114,000 same-sex couples in 2016 were raising children in the United States. Same-sex couples with children were far more likely than different-sex couples with children to have an adopted child, 21.4 percent versus 3 percent, the report found.

nytimes.com by Derrick Bryson Taylor, November 2, 2019

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France moves to make reproductive technology legal for all

France moves to make reproductive technology legal for all

Isabelle Laurans and her boyfriend tried for years to have a baby. When nothing else worked, they decided to try France reproductive technology in the form of in vitro fertilization, or IVF. France reproductive technology

But halfway through the process, Laurans’ boyfriend changed his mind. He dumped her the day they were supposed to make the embryo in the lab.

Laurans says she doesn’t remember most of what went through her mind that day. What she does recall is the overwhelming fear that she’d never get to be a mom.

“I was 38. I knew it would be perhaps too late for me if I waited for a new relationship,” she said.

That same day, Laurans says she was on the internet, looking for a Plan B.

“I didn’t want to risk missing out on becoming a mother altogether,” she explained.

So, Laurans decided to get IVF on her own.

One problem, though: In France, single women aren’t allowed to get IVF. They’re also not allowed to freeze their eggs or get artificial insemination. Lesbian couples are also denied access to assisted reproductive technologies. French law only permits these treatments to women in long-term, heterosexual relationships, putting France at odds with most of its European neighbors (though Germany has similar restrictions).

And so in 2015, Laurans traveled to Belgium to get the treatment. She gave birth to a baby girl, Charlotte, later that year. Laurans says she was lucky to be able to do it.

“It was expensive … and it wasn’t easy,” she said. She had to go through two rounds of IVF. It cost her about $5,500 in all. That might seem cheap to Americans who can pay between $10,000-$15,000 per IVF cycle, depending on insurance coverage. But in France, if Laurans had still been with her boyfriend, the treatment would have been free.  

www.PRI.org – October 18, 2019, by Sarah Birnbaum

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Trump administration halts visas for same-sex partners of diplomats, UN employees

Unmarried, same-sex partners of diplomats and U.N. employees have until the end the year to get married or leave the U.S.

President Donald Trump’s administration began denying visas to the unmarried, same-sex partners of foreign diplomats and officials and employees of the United Nations this week — making marriage a requirement to be eligible for a visa. same-sex partners of diplomats

The policy was made effective Monday.

It comes despite the fact that the majority of countries do not recognize same-sex marriage and many same-sex couples face prosecution in their own countries. 

The shift was detailed in a memo circulated at the United Nations’ headquarters in New York last month but unveiled in July, according to the State Department. 

The policy shift gives the same-sex partners of foreign diplomats and U.N. workers until the end of the year to get married or leave the country.

The State Department said in a briefing Tuesday that the policy will affect about 105 families in the USA, 55 of which have links to various international organizations. It was not clear how many foreign diplomats and U.N. employees with pending U.S. posts will be affected by the policy change.

 

Twelve percent of the 193 U.N. member states represented in New York allow same-sex marriage, according to Samantha Power, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who served under President Barack Obama. 

The Trump administration said the new policy is more consistent with the Supreme Court ruling in 2015 that legalized same-sex marriage. The heterosexual partners of foreign diplomats and U.N. employees are also not eligible for U.S. visas.

Critics of the move argued the policy would create hardship for gay couples from countries that ban same-sex marriage or offer only civil unions. Those who marry in the USA to secure their visa status could face criminal proceedings once they return to their home nations. 

“Those not yet in the country will need to show they’re married to secure a visa, potentially forcing those living in countries without marriage equality to choose between a posting at UN headquarters or family separation,” Akshaya Kumar, deputy U.N. director at Human Rights Watch, wrote in a blog post.

USAToday.com by Kim Hjelmagaard, October 5, 2019

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Phoenix Business Can Refuse to Make Invitations for Same-Sex Couples

Phoenix Business Can Refuse to Make Invitations for Same-Sex Couples

With these fundamental principles in mind, today we hold that the City of Phoenix … cannot apply its Human Relations Ordinance … to force Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski, owners of Brush & Nib Studio, LC (“Brush & Nib”), to create custom wedding invitations celebrating same-sex wedding ceremonies in violation of their sincerely held religious beliefs. Duka, Koski, and Brush & Nib (“Plaintiffs”) have the right to refuse to express such messages under article 2, section 6 of the Arizona Constitution, as well as Arizona’s Free Exercise of Religion Act (“FERA”), A.R.S. § 41-1493.01.”Phoenix same sex

The case pitted the business owners against the city of Phoenix, with key elements including the concepts of artistic freedom, religious rights, and anti-discrimination laws.

The case began in May 2016, after Brush & Nib and its owners claimed that a Phoenix anti-discrimination law violated their artistic and religious freedom. They filed a lawsuit in Maricopa County Superior Court.

Artist Breanna Koski and calligrapher Joanna Duka founded Brush & Nib Studio in 2015. The company specializes in hand-painting and hand-lettering for weddings, special events, and home decor. They also sell ready-made products such as signs and thank-you cards.

“The rights of free speech and free exercise, so precious to this nation since its founding, are not limited to soft murmurings behind the doors of a person’s home or church, or private conversations with like-minded friends and family,” wrote Justice Andrew Gould for the majority. “These guarantees protect the right of every American to express their beliefs in public. This includes the right to create and sell words, paintings, and art that express a person’s sincere religious beliefs.

The business owners said that Phoenix City Code 18-4(B)(1)-(3) prevented them from exercising artistic and religious freedom by requiring that they create wedding invitations for same-sex couples.

Adopted in 2013, the ordinance prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or disability. It applies to businesses offering services to the general public.

Brush & Nib Studio is represented by Scottsdale-based Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal advocacy and training group founded in 1994 to promote what it calls religious freedom, marriage and family, and the sanctity of life.

The Alliance Defending Freedom has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which condemns the alliance for its “anti-LGBT ideology.”

The alliance’s clients include Jack Phillips, a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple in 2012. That case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, went all the way to the U. S. Supreme Court. In June 2018, the court ruled in Phillips’ favor in a 7-2 decision.

The Alliance Defending Freedom announced that it intends to hold a press conference with the Brush & Nib owners this afternoon.

phoenixnewstimes.com by Lynn Trimble, September 16, 2019

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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

Click here to read the entire article.