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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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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.

Gay parents challenge stereotypes in China

An Hui, a gay parent and member of the ruling Communist Party, said it’s time for China to rethink traditional views of family and marriage.

gay parent china

Heads turn when An Hui and Ye Jianbin walk down a street in the Chinese city of Shenzhen with their triplets, who were conceived with help from a human egg donor and a surrogate mother.

People are mostly curious about their unconventional family, said An, adding that it was not always the case in China where gay couples have long battled conservative Confucian values.

“I’m lucky because I was born in China during a period of rapid change. Today’s society is far more tolerant,” the investment manager told Reuters at his office in Shenzhen’s financial district.

“If I had been born during the Cultural Revolution, I would be dead,” said An, 33, who met his partner Ye in 2008.

The two men wanted a family and began exploring the option of in vitro fertilization (IVF), with help from a human egg donor and a surrogate mother.

In 2014, a Thai woman gave birth in Hong Kong to three boys — An Zhizhong, An Zhiya and An Zhifei — who were conceived using human eggs provided by a German fashion model, according to An.

He declined to identify the women or the surrogacy company that organized the procedures.

The issue of lesbian and gay couples having access to medically assisted reproductive treatments such as IVF has stirred political debate in several countries, including more recently in France and Israel.

China’s government has not stated a clear position on the country’s LGBTQ community, said Yanzi Peng, director of LGBT Rights Advocacy China, a group based in Guangzhou.

“The best word to describe the attitude of the Chinese government is ‘ignore,’” said Peng.

“It’s hard to gauge their exact attitude. They don’t outright object to the LGBT community because that would really go against international attitudes on this issue,” Peng added.

by Reuters, December 21, 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

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One Truth About Adult Guardianship – ‘I’m Petitioning … for the Return of My Life’

When Phyllis Funke hit bottom, the court appointed a guardian to prop her up. The remedy is like prison, she said. But “at least in prison you have rights.”

The last weeks that Phyllis Funke could legally make decisions for herself, she climbed into bed, planning to stay there for a while. It was the end of 2016 and she felt disillusioned with the election and wounded by her brother’s recent move to Texas.

She wasn’t considering suicide, she said. She just needed to go under the covers until she could figure out how to deal with the rest of her life, so totally alone.

adult guardianship

She had credit cards, a car, friends and financial advisers in Maine and New York.

When a caseworker from Adult Protective Services and a city psychiatrist entered her apartment on March 3, 2017, clipping the security chain because she did not answer the door, she was unraveling emotionally and physically, at risk of becoming homeless or worse. She had no idea what price she would pay for the intervention.

“I’ve been bullied, blackmailed and stripped of the things I need to live, including my money,” she said on a recent afternoon. “Everything has been taken away from me. I have no access to my bank accounts. I don’t have the money to pay for the medications that I’m prescribed. I don’t get mail. I can’t choose my own doctors.

In a City like New York, where people are used to looking past their neighbors, how often do you see someone and ask yourself, Is that person O.K.? Should I call someone? Maybe they’re older and not moving well. They look adrift in the produce aisle, or you pass their open apartment door and you can’t see the floor for the clutter. You’re a paramedic and they’re refusing to go to the hospital after a bloody fall. It’s your mother or your uncle, and you’re worried about the bills piling up, or the email scams or the sudden loan to a stranger.

You bandage the wound or you promise to check in tomorrow, or you turn away and get on with your life.

Or you call Adult Protective Services. After all, that person needs some sort of protection, doesn’t she?

New York Times, December 7, 2018 by John Leland

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His husband died months after they were able to marry. He’s still fighting for Social Security benefits.

Before their wedding day, Michael Ely and James Taylor hardly ever held hands in public.

When they first started living together, more than four decades earlier and only two years after the Stonewall uprising, it was dangerous to be an openly gay couple. Homosexuality was still considered a mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association.Social Security Benefits

But surrounded by close friends on that day in November 2014, two weeks after Arizona began legally recognizing same-sex marriages, Ely and Taylor walked out of the Pima County courthouse holding hands as a married couple.

“I can’t even begin to tell you how that felt,” Ely said. “After that we started holding hands everywhere we went.”

Seven months later, Taylor died of liver cancer, and Ely was left mourning the loss of his partner of 43 years, a skilled guitarist who he always called “Spider.” Because Taylor, a structural mechanic for aerospace company Bombardier, was the main breadwinner for the couple, Ely was also left without an income.

And now, more than three years after his partner’s death, Ely still has not qualified for Social Security survivor’s benefits. The Social Security Administration requires that a couple be married for at least nine months before a spouse’s death for a widow to collect survivor’s benefits. Because Ely was only married to Taylor for seven months before he died, he is not eligible.

Last week, Lambda Legal, an LGBTQ legal advocacy organization, filed a lawsuit against the Social Security Administration on behalf of Ely, arguing that excluding surviving same-sex spouses from Social Security benefits based on the nine-month requirement violates their equal protection and due process rights under the Constitution.

“By denying same-sex couples an important benefit associated with marriage, that they paid for with their own taxes, the federal government is replicating the same harms of marriage inequality,” said Peter Renn, a lawyer with Lambda Legal. “They’re basically putting same-sex surviving spouses to an impossible test that they can’t meet.”

A spokesman with the Social Security Administration said the agency does not comment on pending litigation.

Ely is one of several same-sex surviving spouses across the country who have been denied social security benefits based on the nine-month requirement, Renn said. He could not estimate how many such cases exist, but said his office has received numerous calls from people in similar situations. He also anticipates more cases could emerge soon, now that spouses like Ely have exhausted all of their administrative options, appealing their cases through the Social Security Administration.

“People like Michael have been basically in administrative purgatory for a number of years,” Renn said.

Lambda Legal has also joined a lawsuit in New Mexico on behalf of Anthony Gonzales, whose husband Mark Johnson, a fifth-grade teacher, died of cancer in February 2014. Gonzales and Johnson were in a relationship for almost 16 years, and they got married on the first day they were legally allowed to do so in New Mexico — Aug. 27, 2013. But because their marriage lasted less than nine months, Gonzales has not been able to qualify for Social Security survivor’s benefits.

by Samantha Schmidt, Washingtonpost.com, November 28, 2018

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Single Gay Fathers, Going It Alone

As the traditional concept of family continues to evolve, single gay fathering having children through surrogacy are beginning to emerge.

Julius Ybañez Towers was taking a walk around the Harlem Meer in Central Park with his twin 10-month-old sons and two dogs. A woman stopped to compliment him for giving his wife a break.single gay fathers

“There’s no wife,” he told the woman. “I’m a single gay dad from surrogacy.” He smiled at the confused look on her face.

Mr. Towers, 40, is still rare, but he is part of a growing movement. Surrogacy agencies across the country report a surge of interest from single gay men in the last few years.

Shelly Marsh, a spokeswoman for Men Having Babies, a nonprofit that helps gay men navigate the surrogacy process, said that the increase in interest from single men is part of a broader surge in gay families.

“Our volume has increased substantially over the last few years,” Ms. Marsh said. “But more so, single men are learning that they do not need to wait to find someone to fulfill the dream of having a biological child.”

Most single gay men pursue what is known as gestational surrogacy: the surrogate is implanted with a fertilized embryo taken from a separate egg donor. The surrogate is not genetically related to the child. She also has no maternal rights, so intended parents are legally protected from her keeping the baby.

For that legal protection however, the birth must happen in a state where it’s legal to pay a surrogate and that recognizes the contract. New Jersey recently approved compensation for surrogates; Washington State’s announced it would do so in January. New York, along with Michigan and Louisiana, are the only states where it remains illegal to pay a woman to be a surrogate mother.

Where it is legal, the total cost of the procedure — from paying the agencies, the donor, the doctors, the surrogate and the birth — can be anywhere from $80,000 to $200,000. None of this is covered by insurance.

By Avichai Scher, New York Times, October 25, 2018

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Trans Folks Want Babies Too

Parenting isn’t only meant for cisgender people.

Being a transgender parent isn’t always as complicated in real life as the media portrays it. While the nuances are rarely covered in magazines, shows like Amazon’s Transparent, which is heading into a fifth and final season, highlight what the trans experience is like long after the children are born. But today’s science is more sophisticated than in decades past, which has opened up the opportunity for trans folks to conceive children even after they’ve transitioned.trans parents

“Trans people having children is not a new thing at all,” affirms Trystan Reese, director of family formation at the Family Equality Council (FamilyEquality.org). “It’s newer in terms of how much other people may know about it but it’s been happening for a couple of decades or so.”

Reese is a trans man who gave birth to a baby boy named Leo in 2017. Leo is the first biological baby for Reese and his husband, Biff Chaplow, but he’s their third child (they had previously adopted Chaplow’s niece and nephew).

The Oregon couple admit that trans people giving birth has been relatively under the radar. Being an out trans person can be dangerous in many parts of the country, where education about the trans experience is limited. Despite these difficulties, Reese continues to promote fertility rights for transgender people. His efforts included hosting the council’s recent Seahorses & Unicorns event, which helped share as much information about transgender fertility options as possible with the community.

As more trans people look into birthing children, doctors have begun updating their language. Many now refer to egg freezing and sperm freezing as simply gamete freezing, dropping the gender identity of the process. Whether freezing eggs, sperm, or embryos for future assisted pregnancies, gamete freezing is gaining traction among trans people before transitioning lessens their reproductive ablities or they change their gender identity with medical assistance like hormones and surgery.

Aadvocate.com,  by NAYIRAH MUHAMMAD, October 2, 2018

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BUT, I’M ON THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE!

Why a Birth Certificate Alone Is Not Sufficient Protection for Your Legal Parentage Rights

A common misconception among LGBT parents is that being listed as a parent on a birth certificate is all that is needed to establish one’s legal parentage to their child.  If only it were so simple.birth certificate

I’d like to give you an example to illustrate the issue more queerly.  Close your eyes and hearken back to the days of yore… It’s late 2013, and the Supreme Court has required the federal government to recognize same sex marriages from the states that allow them.  Nevertheless, we were in a legal enigma: what happened to those marriages when they crossed state lines from a marriage equality state to a non-marriage equality state? Lauren Beth Czekala-Chatham and Dana Ann Melancon can tell you what happened to them…the state no longer recognized their marriage.  So, when they moved from California to Mississippi and decided to get divorced, they were in a bit of a pickle. Mississippi decided that their marriage was against the state’s public policy, and therefore, the divorce and division of marital assets that they sought was not available to them.

“How could this have happened?”  You may ask. “What about the Full Faith and Credit Clause from the US Constitution?”  Doesn’t it require that “Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State”?  Well, the Supreme Court has held that the Full Faith and Credit Clause is meant to apply to judgments and court orders from one state to the next, but it does not hold the same requirements for laws or administrative records, like marriage certificates.  So, their valid marriage certificate in California was worth the paper it was written on when they moved to Mississippi. Fast forward to Obergefell, and marriage equality is now the law of the land, and the Supreme Court has held that marriage cannot be denied to same sex couples, but that was an issue of individual rights under the Constitution, and not an issue of recognition of administrative records across states.  

So, the issue that existed for marriage certificates a few short years ago still exists for birth certificates today.  You and your co-parent may both be on the birth certificate in your child’s birth state. But, what happens if you get into a car accident on a cross country road trip in a state that decides that your birth certificate is against public policy and therefore need not be recognized?  Seems like a pretty tragic time to be left out in the cold and unable to make medical decisions for your child, especially if your co-parent is not with you or is incapacitated.

by Amira Hasenbush, LGBTBar.org, October 15, 2018

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