They were gay and wanted a baby. She loved being pregnant. They made a deal.

Christina Fenn and her husband, Brian, have driven an hour and a half to this quaint coffee shop in Monroe, Conn. Fenn sips her morning latte, skittishly glancing out the window at the parking lot. “I’m nervous,” she says, grabbing her husband’s arm. “Nervous-excited, though.” He smiles back.

She’s wearing green, her lucky color. Green shirt and green jacket, green bracelets, green socks. She feels as if she needs all the luck she can get today.

“They’re here,” her husband says, standing to greet two men walking toward them.Hoylman

Bill Johnson and Kraig Wiedenfeld have been a couple for 18 years and married for four. Everyone embraces warmly.

They’re an unlikely foursome: two gay men from the Upper East Side of New York and a small-town husband and wife who met when they both were 20 at a Dunkin’ Donuts.

By lunchtime, if all goes as planned, Christina Fenn will be pregnant with Johnson and Wiedenfeld’s son. An embryo created from Wiedenfeld’s sperm and an egg from an anonymous donor will be thawed and transferred into Fenn’s uterus, and she will be considered “PUPO” — pregnant until proven otherwise.

“Let’s go have a baby!” says Wiedenfeld. They all smile nervously.

The couples drive in separate cars to CT Fertility, a clinic five minutes down the road.

This isn’t Fenn’s first time at the clinic. She has proudly carried three babies — including a set of twins — as a surrogate for two other same-sex couples. She heads to Exam Room 3, while Johnson and Wiedenfeld go to a waiting area until it’s time for the transfer.

“You have a beautiful embryo hatching,” says CT Fertility physician Melvin Thornton, sitting down with the dads-to-be.

by Sydney Page, Washington Post – September 8, 2018

Click here to read the entire article.

Guardianship for Children – Priceless Peace of Mind

Creating a guardianship for Children may be the most important reason for creating an estate plan.  With a thoughtfully chosen guardian, parents can rest assured that their children will be ok if something were to happen.

A guardianship for children in a Last Will and Testament is the only way to ensure that your children will be with whom you choose in the event of a death of a parent.  To dispel a common misconception, naming someone as a godparent through a church ritual has no legal weight when a guardian is required after the death of a parent or parents.  I would argue that the exercise of choosing that person is good for the parents as it has them thinking about why someone may be a good choice as a guardian for their children, but that exercise is just that until the choice is declared in a properly executed Last Will and Testament.guardianship for children

To be crystal clear, only a child guardian designation made in a properly executed Last Will and Testament is a valid designation of a guardianship for children

Becoming a parent forces that person to think in the long-term.  Imagining your children’s lives without you is certainly not easy but imagining their lives without you and without any clear direction as to where they should live or who they should live with is far worse.

Hypothetically, if no guardianship for children is established in a properly executed Last Will and Testament, the court will look to see if there are any family members who would petition the court to take on that responsibility.  That person, while being a close family member, may not be the person that a parent would choose for their child.  Also, the court prioritizes the closest living blood relatives, so if you have not made your wishes known through a properly executed guardianship for children in a Will, then a more distant family member who may be the better choice would have an uphill battle in court.

Another fact that most parents do not realize is that when there is a guardianship for children properly established in your Last Will and Testament, the designated guardian still must petition the court to be made the legal guardian of the child.  This process is streamlined when the deceased parent has made a clear guardianship for children designation, but that designee must still follow the protocols of having the guardianship established in court.

singleIf no guardianship for children has been properly executed, then the closest living blood relatives must petition the court to be named legal guardian, creating an often time consuming and emotional journey for all involved, especially the children.

While this article focuses on how to properly execute a guardianship for children, I also want to remind readers of the different ways that parents can provide financially for their children if a parent, or parents, die.  Basic estate planning is essentialEstate planning with children in the mix offers new options, and challenges.

Remember also that you can name a guardianship for children even before they are born.  Carefully crafted Wills may refer to “future born children,” as well as defining children to include adopted children, children in utero, children you are in the process of adopting and children who are created through assisted reproductive technology. 

Now that you understand the process, the real work begins.  Being able to have these conversations among parents is crucial. Agreeing upon an appropriate guardianship for children may take time and effort, but it may be the most important decision you will ever make for your family.

 

Anthony M. Brown, Esq. September 7, 2018

 

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Tom Daley on becoming a dad and why UK surrogacy laws need to change

Tom Daley is sitting on a sofa in a central London hotel suite with his husband, Dustin Lance Black, while their seven-week-old baby, Robbie Ray, snoozes peacefully beside them – and it’s clear the new fathers (both dressed in baby blue) are entirely besotted with their son.

“We don’t ever turn on a TV anymore, we just stare at the little one,” Tom Daley, 24, tells The Independent. “It’s been so crazy. It feels kind of surreal still, the fact that we have a…”

He stops mid-sentence to coo at baby Robbie, which I soon realise is to become a regular occurrence during our interview.surrogate lawyers, surrogate lawyer, surrogate attorney, legal surrogate, surrogate legal

“But he’s brought so much love and joy to the family,” Daley continues.

Born to a surrogate in June, Robbie is apparently a very well-behaved newborn. “He’s a great baby,” says Black, 44. “I think we got a starter baby, I think we got the best baby on the planet.”

“But we might be biased,” adds Daley.

The Olympic diver and his Oscar-winning screenwriter husband met in 2013, married in 2017 and revealed they were going to be fathers in 2018 – an announcement which wasn’t met entirely positively by the public.

“I think that’s why we want to help educate people because I think a lot of them were under the impression that the baby was going to be ripped from his mother’s arms,” says Daley. “People will have their opinions and that’s fine. All we want is what’s best for the little one.”

The couple had their son through surrogacy but admit they didn’t know a great deal about the options open to them as a same-sex couple beforehand. “It was an education, we had to learn,” says Black. 

By Rachel Hosie, theindependent.co.uk, August 22, 2018

Click here to read the entire article.

Italy’s deputy prime minister calls gay parents ‘unnatural’ and surrogacy ‘a horror’

The Italian deputy prime minister has called same-sex parents ‘unnatural’ and vowed to keep all families heterosexual.

Matteo Salvini, the far-right leader of the Northern League party, has risen to popularity on the back of rhetoric against migrants, Islam and the European Union.

Soon after becoming deputy prime minister in June alongside Five Star Movement leader Luigi di Maio, the two nationalist politicians tried to appoint anti-LGBT+ journalist Marcello Foa as the head of public broadcaster Rai.

In an interview with Catholic news outlet La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, Salvini expressed his strong opposition to same-sex parents, equal marriage and surrogacy.

The 45-year-old populist figurehead, who is also the country’s interior minister, was asked about same-sex marriage, to which he responded: “My position is firmly against.”

by Josh Jackman, pinknews.co.uk, August 13, 2018

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As evidence supporting LGBTQ families mounts, legal hurdles loom

New studies say kids of gay parents are just as well-adjusted as those with a mom and dad. But Congress is moving to allow adoption agencies to bar LGBTQ families.

LGBTQ families made headlines twice this month, but for very different reasons.

Last week, a study found that from a mental health perspective, adult children with lesbian parents fared just as well as their peers with opposite-sex parents. This follows an Italian study released in May that found that children with same-sex parents were actually slightly better off psychologically than children with a mom and a dad.LGBTQ families

Earlier this month, however, Republican lawmakers dealt a blow to LGBTQ people seeking to become LGBTQ families. The House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment allowing foster care and adoption agencies that receive federal funding to refuse to work with same-sex couples on religious or moral grounds. Though the amendment has several steps to go before becoming federal law, 10 states already have a similar law in place.

The House amendment goes even further than current state-level laws. It would cut 15 percent of child welfare funding to states that explicitly prohibit agencies from excluding LGBTQ people.

Independent and private adoption agencies that do not receive federal funding are already allowed to deny LGBTQ people.

The studies of children with same-sex parents don’t surprise advocates of LGBTQ families. Zach Wahls, who was born to a lesbian couple through artificial insemination and famously defended same-sex parents to the Iowa Legislature in 2011, said it was exciting to have studies to back up his experience.

“In our current climate, we’re at risk of backsliding on this issue,” Wahls told NBC News. “We need to be ready to contest that, and now we can do it in a scientific way.”

Scientific as they may be, the studies are unlikely to move those who advocate for allowing agencies to exclude LGBTQ families, because the objections are faith-based and do not pertain only to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

by Avichai Scher NBCNews.com, 

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Netanyahu Votes Against Surrogacy Births for Israeli Gay Men Despite Voicing Support

Only on Sunday the PM said he’d like to see the law amended during the current Knesset’s term

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voted on Wednesday against a clause in the surrogacy bill that would allow surrogate births for same-sex couples despite voicing public support for it earlier this week.Israel gay

On Sunday Netanyahu said he supports the bill in a closed meeting on Likud lawmakers. “I support surrogacy for single fathers,” Netanyahu said, adding that he favored amending the law during the current Knesset session if possible, but if not, he said it should be done later on, via reservations to an amendment bill that MK Amir Ohana (Likud) raised last week, to permit surrogacy procedures for same-sex couples.

Netanyahu has expressed support for LGBT family rights several times in recent years but has not followed up most of these declarations with any action.

Netanyahu heads a conservative coalition which rejects any recognition of LGBT family units. Habayit Hayehudi, the ultra-Orthodox parties and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu Party all reject support for any amendment on the issue.

Members of the opposition booed Netanyahu after the vote, and MK Yoel Hasson (Zionist Union) was removed from the Knesset chamber. Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel (Likud) was at the Knesset at the time of the vote but she did not enter the chamber.

and  July 18, 2018 – Haaretz.com
 
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Israeli bill allows surrogacy for single women, denies it to same-sex couples

Single women are eligible for surrogacy but same-sex couples are not under a bill advanced by a Knesset committee.

The surrogacy bill must pass a second and third reading in the full Knesset to become law. The Labor, Welfare and Health Committee passed the measure in an 8-4 vote, with government coalition members in favor and the opposition against. The committee rejected an amendment to allow same-sex couples to undergo surrogacy.

Currently, only couples who are married and heterosexual have the right to hire a surrogate in Israel.Israel surrogacy

Under the bill, a family may have five children by surrogacy instead of the two now allowed, and a surrogate can give birth five times, including her own children, and up to age 39.

Itzik Shmuli of the Zionist Union, who is gay, attempted to sway his fellow committee members on extending the legislation to same-sex couples.

“I want to be a father and I cannot be a father. To do this, I have to go to a foreign country, pay $140,000 and hope it’s all right. My life is full, but there is always a part missing that accompanies me everywhere,” Shmuli said. “We are good enough to serve the country, but not to be parents. It’s an insult I cannot describe. It is a situation that is simply discriminatory, painful, and full of insults and dishonesty. This is wrong.”

Likud lawmaker Amir Ohana, who is openly gay and proposed the amendment to include same-sex couples in the bill that was not approved, told the committee about his difficulties in creating a family.

July 10, 2018 – JTA.org

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The Anthony Kennedy Retirement  – a Death Knell for LGBT Rights in the Court?

The Anthony Kennedy retirement was a shock to many, as was his pro-LGBT legacy.  Whether the Kennedy legacy will live on with a new Supreme Court remains to be seen.

Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy was responsible for the first pro-LGBT Supreme Court decision in 1996, when Colorado, by voter ballot, amended its state Constitution to prohibit the state from protecting gay people from discrimination.  This decision, Romer v. Evans, started a conversation among the Justices that would continue on through the marriage cases and beyond the Anthony Kennedy retirement.Anthony Kennedy retirement

Anthony Kennedy laid that ground work for marriage equality by decriminalizing sodomy in the Lawrence v. Texas case, decided in 2003.  I had the privilege of working at Lambda Legal, the attorneys for Petitioner Lawrence, while preparing for that case.  Sodomy was a crime only for gay people in Texas and a conviction of the crime of sodomy was used as an excuse for employment discrimination, removal of children and much more.  This landmark ruling laid the foundation upon which much of our current LGBT jurisprudence rests.

Kennedy authored the Windsor case in 2013 and the Obergefell case in 2015, both of which solidified marriage equality and the federal recognition thereof.  But he also joined the majority siding against LGBT issues in several cases, most recently in the Masterpiece cake shop case.

In order to predict the future of a post-Kennedy Supreme Court’s treatment of LGBT rights, we need to dispense with a few misconceptions.  First, the Republican senate will not hold themselves to the same standard they held President Obama in his attempt to fill the Scalia vacancy.  If they did, they would wait until after the 2018 midterm elections to allow a new, possibly democratic, senate the right to vote on President Trump’s next pick.  Do not hold your breath, but do call Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski!

Second, the Anthony Kennedy retirement will not move current right-leaning Justices to the left in order to preserve the very delicate balance between the conservative and progressive wings of the court.  Roberts, Thomas, Alito and Gorsuch have made their opinions clear on previous LGBT matters before them and another conservative voice on the court will tip the balance against progressive protection of LGBT rights for generations to come.

Finally, there are real and relevant conflict of interest issues which may directly affect criminal and civil prosecutions directed at the very president that would be nominating Supreme Court Justice who would be hearing them.  If there were ever a “litmus test” issue, it is not abortion or LGBT rights, it is the potential ability of a sitting president to be indicted or prosecuted.

Anthony Kennedy retirementWhat is most troubling about Anthony Kennedy’s legacy is what he did not do.  Kennedy was a wordsmith, much to the chagrin of many in the legal community.  He never clearly defined what level of legal scrutiny gay people deserved in equal protection cases.  The equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution provides for different levels of protection depending on which category the discriminated class falls into.  The legal scrutiny that a class receives often determines whether the discrimination is permissible or not.  The key indicators of whether a case deserves heightened scrutiny were, perhaps purposefully, left out of Kennedy’s written decisions regarding LGBT litigants.  He shied away from describing gay people as a “subject classification.”  

Kennedy did not discuss whether a “compelling state interest” existed to justify the discrimination, another word indicator of common equal protection analysis.  My fear is that the absence of a clear direction for equal protection scrutiny will now be left in the hands of a decidedly more conservative court.  Make no mistake; they will not speak around the issue as Kennedy was accused of doing.

The Anthony Kennedy retirement will, and should, cause LGBT individuals, couples and families to reevaluate their own legal affairs.  The good news is that the most important issues, such as estate planning, second and step adoption protections and anti-discrimination policies are state based.  This cuts both ways if you live in a state which does not provide adequate protections for LGBT Americans. 

While it is unlikely that the Supreme Court would overturn their 2016 decision in V.L. v. E.L., a case which required states to recognize the second parent adoptions of other states, of particular interest to gay couples moving to less LGBT friendly states, a newly conservative court may take the opportunity to allow a state to deny recognition of a pre or post-birth order for a gay male couple establishing parentage after surrogacy from another state.  While this fact pattern has not yet arisen, it is foolish to deny that anti-LGBT organizations will be looking for ways to chip away at the protections we have fought so dearly for.

If the Anthony Kennedy retirement can teach us anything, it is that being proactive in the creation and protection of our families is no longer optional, it is imperative.  Create your estate plan if you do not have one.  If you have been putting off your second parent adoption, don’t!  Give to Lambda Legal, the ACLU, NCLR and GLAD.  If the senate allows Trump to nominate and appoint a new Justice to the Supreme Court, we, as LGBT Americans, will be living with that choice for the next generation.  That is the sad and simple reality. 

By Anthony M. Brown, June 29, 2018

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‘I wanted a baby:’ Single men are increasingly having biological children via surrogacy

Bill Guest was about 30 when his biological clock kicked in, and he was single.

His friends were having kids left and right, and suddenly being a doting uncle wasn’t enough. Guest was single, wasn’t particularly interested in getting married, but he did very much want a child, and not an older child. single

“I wanted a baby,” said Guest, 40, of Villa Park. “I wanted to experience all of the stages of life.”

With Father’s Day approaching, single fathers such as Guest are a reminder of how far modern men will go to become parents.

He is one of the small but growing number of single men who are becoming fathers via surrogacy, in which a woman agrees to carry someone else’s baby. Surrogacy can cost more than $100,000 and involves finding a woman who wants to carry your child, achieving a pregnancy via in vitro fertilization, and navigating the emotional experience of pregnancy and childbirth with a surrogate who has her own needs, responsibilities and boundaries.

At Family Source Consultants in Chicago, which has facilitated about eight single-father/surrogate matches so far this year, up from about five last year, co-founder Zara Griswold said that single men, both gay and heterosexual, are pursuing surrogacy for the same reason single women are freezing their eggs: They really want biological children.

“Men who have a paternal instinct — it is no less than women who have a maternal instinct,” said Griswold.

“They will be as obsessed as a woman will be; they just want it so much. And then when they have their babies they’re so happy; they’re so grateful; they’re such great parents.”

Alternative Reproductive Resources, another Chicago agency, matches about three single dads with surrogates each year, according to CEO Robin von Halle.

Guest, a stay-at-home dad to Freya, 19 months, said that he looked into adoption through the foster care system, but the kids who were available were 6 or 7.

“I kind of gave up,” he said, but his mom, Josephine, urged him to go online and try again, and he found Men Having Babies, a nonprofit that helps gay men become dads. About 60 percent of the single dads via surrogacy at Family Source Consultants are gay; the rest are heterosexual.

by Nara Schoenberg, June 13, 2018, Chicago Tribune

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Men Having Babies – The Journey Starts Here

For the last 6 years I have been the Chairman of the Board of Men Having Babies, a nonprofit organization that helps educate gay men about having their own biological children through surrogacy.

 I have never been prouder of the mission of an organization I have been a part of than I am with Men Having Babies.  We also help men who cannot otherwise afford surrogacy with our Gay Parenting Assistance Program, or GPAP, which provides discounted and donated services, as well as cash grants, to eligible couples and individuals.  We advocate for ethical surrogacy and assist thousands of men around the world.  This 8 minute video shows what kind of a difference we can make.  It is my privilege to share it with you.

Gay men thinking about having families is nothing new.  While I grew up in an era that being gay and being a father were not usually understood as being possible together, thankfully this is no longer the case.  Creating and protecting a family is a realistic dream of all people, especially gay men.

Men Having Babies is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating and assisting gay men to create their own families. Each year educational conferences are held around the world in such cities as San Francisco, Brussels, New York, Tel Aviv, and Chicago. Click here to visit the Men Having Babies website.

Click here to watch the video.