Showing posts with label Anti Gay Adoptions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Anti Gay Adoptions. Show all posts

July 30, 2018

At a Time Cuba, India are About To Offer Gay Marriage, 100K Tell Israel Not to Be Against Gay Rights

66-100k gay and gay demonstrators at Rabin Square (LGBT Association)
"A people who have experience persecution should never be the one who persecute" 

On July 22, an estimated 100,000 Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square to rally for gay rights. It was one of the largest political demonstrations in the country’s history; if the same share of America's population turned out, there would be 3 million protesters in the streets. It may be the Israeli left's best chance in a while to revitalize its electoral hopes.
The proximate cause of the demonstration was opposition to a new law that offers public financing for parental surrogacy to straight couples and single women, but not to male homosexual couples. The gay community used the occasion to stage an unsuspected display of power.
The event was put together by a small cadre of activists under the leadership of a gay rights umbrella group, the Aguda. But they didn’t do it alone. They had the support of virtually the entire Israeli hi-tech sector.   
The Israeli division of Apple gave their employees a paid day off to attend the demonstration, and closed its stores in a show of solidarity. “One of Israel’s greatest gifts is the creativity, diversity and talent of its entire people,” said a company statement. “Unfortunately, recent legislation passed by the Knesset undermines those values. Apple will always maintain its values of fairness, dignity and mutual respect, and we stand with all of our employees seeking equality under the law.”
IBM Israel explained its decision to support the rally in equally lofty terms. “No one should be denied one of the most basic human rights – the right to start a family – for being who they are. We support IBMers who wish to stand in solidarity with the LGBT community in advocating for legislation that is inclusive of ALL."
Some of the tech giants went beyond giving workers a day off and a pat on the back. Microsoft Israel and Mellanox, an Israeli-American supplier of computer networking products, each offered $16,400 to employees to help finance expensive foreign surrogacy. 
This kind of support had a ripple effect. The broader Israeli business sector, which has traditionally been unwilling to frighten away customers with principled stands, found their backbone. El Al and IsrAir, Teva and Soda Stream, the major cell phone providers, retail chains and credit card companies all took a stand for the gay community.
The Aguda leaders insisted that theirs was a non-partisan movement. They merely encouraged supporters to work from within by joining the political party of their choice. This was disingenuous. Israel’s LGBT movement, like its American counterpart, has been strongly allied with the progressive parties that make up the parliamentary opposition.
The governing Likud Party does, in fact, have members who sympathize with LGBT causes. According to a poll published on Wednesday, 51 percent of Likud voters were in sympathy with the demonstration. But for now that sympathy has little practical meaning because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party is captive to its ultra-orthodox coalition partners on gay rights and other social issues.
The Aguda leaders set forth six basic demands, which tuned out to be fairly pedestrian, including more shelters for vulnerable LGBT people, stiffer penalties for anti-gay crimes and a publicly financed educational campaign for tolerance. Their demands highlighted the fact that gay rights are already well established in Israeli law and custom.
LGBT soldiers serve without controversy in every branch and rank of the military. Israel proudly brands itself as a gay friendly tourist country, and has made its annual Pride Week the closest thing to national mardi gras. The country has laws banning workplace discrimination and penalties for hate crimes. LGBT parents have adoption rights. And it is only a matter of time before gay males get equal surrogacy rights.  
The LGBT organizers are now in the anomalous position of commanding a vast army without a suitable mountain to capture. They are aware of this, which is why, a few hours after their press conference, Aguda added a seventh and much more revolutionary demand: secular marriage.
Breaking the Orthodox rabbinical monopoly over marriage (and divorce) is popular with both gay and straight Israelis. It is the kind of big issue that challenges the entire theocratic web of special rights enjoyed by the orthodox minority and which could decide elections.
This hasn’t escaped the notice of politicians on the left. Tzippi Livni, the newly crowned leader of the parliamentary opposition, left Sunday’s demonstration already understanding this. “I haven’t seen energy like this in years,” she told reporters. “This is just the beginning.”
Before switching sides, Livni cut her political teeth on the victorious Likud campaign of 1977. She saw firsthand how an ideologically inspired, energetic and organized cadre of rebellious activists can take control of a major party and put it in office.
Israel’s founding Labor Party has gone downhill ever since that first electoral loss. It lost its labor federation ground troops and prestigious kibbutz ideology to the temptations of market capitalism. The party’s core of enthusiastic peace activists found themselves without a Palestinian partner and, following the second intifada, settled into gloomy resignation. The party is led by lackluster figures who are resigned to losing before they

Sunday's demonstration of strength could be a catalyst for change on the left. The LGBT’s energy, and its direct challenge to the rabbis, gives it a leadership position among Israel’s fragmented civil rights organizations. And its de facto coalition with the hi-tech sector is important. Silicon Wadi, Israel's version of Silicon Valley, while disclaiming any partisan agenda, lends prestige, financial support and unabashed secular egalitarianism to any cause it embraces. A left-leaning political party that captures both has a fighting chance of emerging from the doldrums of the past two decades.
It is axiomatic that mainstream Israeli voters put national security first. To win an election, the LGBT-Hi-tech coalition would have to be at once socially conscious and sufficiently hawkish. That's not an easy balancing act, but it's suddenly conceivable.

July 14, 2018

Under House Panel US Agencies Could Refuse Gay Couples Trying To Adopt

By Daniella Diaz, CNN

The House Appropriations Committee passed an amendment on Wednesday that, if implemented, would allow adoption agencies to refuse gay couples based on their moral or religious beliefs. 
The amendment, which was introduced by GOP Rep. Robert Aderholt of Alabama, would allow child welfare providers to decline to "provide a service that conflicts with its sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions," according to the congressman.
Because of this provision, the amendment would allow more religious organizations, such as Catholic Charities and Bethany Christian Services -- examples Aderholt provided -- to operate child welfare agencies.
"The reason for this is simply because these organizations, based on religious conviction, choose not to place children with same-sex couples," he said in a statement.
    He continued: "The amendment I introduced seeks to prevent these (state) governments from discriminating against child welfare providers on the basis that the provider declines to provide a service that conflicts with its sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions," he said in a statement. 
    The amendment could have consequences for LGBTQ-friendly states. It would require the US Department of Health and Human Services to withhold 15% of the federal funds for child welfare services from states and localities don't meet the same standards for protecting religious adoption groups.
    Progressive Democrats in the House are speaking out against the amendment, saying it would deny same-sex couples the right to adopt.
    "Same-sex couples are six times more likely to foster and four times more likely to adopt. Denying kids loving parents is wrong," Democratic Rep. Mark Pocan, a gay congressman from Wisconsin, said in a tweet.
    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called the amendment a "disgusting, deeply immoral and profoundly offensive effort." 
    "House Republicans chose to sacrifice the well-being of little children to push a bigoted, anti-LGBTQ agenda, potentially denying tens of thousands of vulnerable children the opportunity to find a loving and safe home," the California Democrat said in a statement.
    The office of House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    February 27, 2018

    LGBT Community Worried About GA.'s "Keep Faith in Adoption Foster Care Act"

    Georgia’s Senate has passed a bill that could enable child welfare organizations to stop same-sex parents from adopting on grounds of religious beliefs, in what rights advocates have called a “dangerous step backward.”

    In the latest chapter of the debate on religious freedom and freedom from discrimination, Georgia’s Senate passed the Keep Faith in Adoption and Foster Care Act on Friday.

    If it passes through the Georgia House, it could allow child-placing agencies, such as adoption organizations and foster care providers, to refuse referrals that are deemed to violate “sincerely held religious beliefs.” Its sponsors argue it will encourage adoption agencies to open and match children with parents. 

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    But LGBT civil rights advocacy group The Human Rights Campaign raised concerns that the bill could not only be used to discriminate against same-sex parents but also interfaith couples, single parents, divorcees and other parents to whom an agency might have a religious objection.

    Marty Rouse, national field director for the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement that Senate Bill (SB) 375 “is discrimination dressed up as a ‘solution’ to a fake problem.

    “It creates an unnecessary hardship for potential LGBTQ adoptive or foster parents in Georgia and primarily harms the children looking for a loving home," said Rouse. "It’s unfortunate that leaders are focusing on this bill instead of concrete ways to improve the child welfare system in Georgia. We ask the Georgia House of Representatives to reject this bill."

    Sarah Kate Ellis, president, and CEO of GLAAD, called SB 375 “a dangerous step backward that would codify permission to discriminate against the LGBTQ community under Georgia state law.

    “This bill is not about freedom of religion, which is one of our nation’s fundamental values, but rather about imposing one’s personal religious beliefs on others to discriminate against loving foster or adoptive parents simply because of their identity and deny services to LGBTQ youth," Ellis said.

    Amna Khaliq, partner and head of the international surrogacy and adoption team at London-based Wilson Solicitors, told Newsweek that the adoption bill would significantly reduce the number of adopting families, thus leaving vulnerable children to languish in foster care for far longer, if not permanently. 

    "It is concerning that child welfare organizations, including adoption and foster care agencies, are being given the power to decide whether children can be placed with prospective adopters based on their religious views and sexual preferences, when the only consideration should be whether the adopting family is able to meet the ongoing welfare needs of the child," said Khaliq.

    "[Georgia State Senator] William Ligon insists that this bill will not prevent anyone from adopting, explaining that the concerned agencies 'want to have the assurance that [adoptees] will be able to exercise their fundamental right to practice their faith.' This, however, appears not to be the case, as, under the new bill, the doors will be closed to the Georgian LGBT community as well as to those who hold certain religious beliefs," Khaliq elaborated. 

    Read more: Amazon's 2nd HQ: Does a lack of LGBT anti-discrimination laws put these states at a disadvantage? 

    The vote comes after Georgia Governor Nathan Deal vetoed a controversial religious liberties bill in 2016 that would have allowed organizations and individuals to act according to religious or moral convictions, The Washington Post reported. Prior to the veto, the National Football League threatened to dismiss Atlanta in future Super Bowls. Disney, Marvel and high-profile Hollywood figures, including Anne Hathaway and Seth MacFarlane, also threatened to boycott the state if it passed the law.

    SB 375 could be met with similar protests. CNBC reported that Amazon could strike Atlanta from the list of cities it is considering for its second U.S. headquarters.

    An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment to CNBC but pointed toward its Request for Proposal for cultural community fit, which requires “the presence and support of a diverse population.” Atlanta achieved a perfect city rating by the HRC Municipal Equality index for the fifth year running in 2017 but was the only city in Georgia to do so.

    A spokesperson for the city of Atlanta's mayor's office said it could not comment on the Amazon bid. Amazon and the sponsors of the State of Georgia Senate bill did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday. 


    July 21, 2017

    In Tel Aviv Celebs Decry Israel Refusal to Allow Same Sex Adoptions

    In TEL AVIV (JTA),  Israel may pride itself on being an oasis of LGBT tolerance in the otherwise hostile the Middle East, but many gay citizens are less than wowed.

    On Sunday, the government came out in favor of effectively preventing adoption by same-sex couples. Responding to a petition to the High Court of Justice challenging the current policy, it said that given the “reality of Israeli society,” same-sex parents put an “additional burden” on their adopted children.

    Led by some gay celebrities, Israel’s LGBT community and its allies have launched a campaign against the government’s declared position, earning widespread public support. The Israeli media have been filled with criticism of the country’s right-wing leadership alongside accounts of loving same-sex parenting.

    Many have accused politicians of touting Israel’s LGBT bona fides to the world while failing to stand up for gay rights at home. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who in a U.N. speech in 2016 talked about gay rights, was singled out. But the top target of criticism has been Cabinet minister Ayelet Shaked, whose Justice Ministry, along with the Welfare Ministry, helped make the government’s case against same-sex adoption. 

    On Sunday, gay Israeli pop star Harel Skaat urged young LGBT Israelis to vote politicians like Shaked out of office. He further suggested they protest the government’s position by refusing to contribute to the country, or even by leaving. 

    “I call on you not to join the army! And you know what, not even to pay taxes on the money you will earn,” he wrote on Facebook. “Go and disperse all the great and varied good that you have to give in places that accept you and not those that don’t.” 

    Singer Amir Frischer-Gutman declared on television that gay Israelis were done making the country look good without getting government support in return. Pro-Palestinian activists over the years have accused Israel of “pinkwashing” its conflict with the Palestinians by promoting its gay-friendly laws and culture.

    “We as people have for years felt they are not accepting us. We are good only for speeches at the United Nations and to be the fig leaf of this country,” Frischer-Gutman told Israel’s Channel 2 on Monday. “I will not have an answer for my child the day he asks me why I have to pay taxes to this country. And why should I go to the army for a country that does not respect you and me?”

    Ohad Hitman, 40, a top Israeli singer and composer, told JTA that gay artists like him are stepping up because they are “dreamers” who want to create a better world. He said he personally felt an obligation to “speak his truth.”

    On Monday, Hitman, who is married to TV commercial producer Ran Hurash, 30, wrote a Facebook post addressed to Shaked from the perspective of their 2-year-old twins, Eva and Berry. The tongue-in-cheek message purported to agree that gays are bad parents, saying the children’s “emotional burden” includes limited TV watching privileges and an early bedtime.

    The post concluded with a call for an “in-depth dialogue of love” and national unity. By Wednesday it had received 24,000 “likes” and hundreds of mostly supportive comments.

    Hitman described himself as mostly apolitical but said representatives of several Israeli lawmakers have called to consult with him. Meanwhile, other members of the gay community have publicly pushed the government to change its position on adoption.

    Although adoption by same-sex couples has been legal in Israel since 2008, in practice it has been nearly impossible. Because opposite-sex couples have been given priority, only three same-sex couples have adopted in Israel out of 550 applicants. More than 1,000 opposite-sex couples have adopted in the past nine years.

    In its petition to the High Court, the Association of Israeli Gay Fathers, together with the Israel Religious Action Center of the Reform movement, called these policies discriminatory. In its response, the government essentially agreed but called them justified.

    Meanwhile, surrogacy has grown increasingly popular. In 2013, Israelis had 227 births by surrogate mothers; 87 of them were gay couples.

    Hitman and Harush paid a surrogate mother. In April 2015, they were among a group of gay male couples that made a high-profile flight to pick up their children from Nepal following a massive earthquake there.

    Gay couples cannot marry in Israel, but the state recognizes unions performed abroad. Hitman and Harush married in New York.

    Amid the public outcry over the government’s position against same-sex adoption, the National Association of LGBT in Israel quickly organized a protest of the policy to take place Thursday outside the Kirya government compound in Tel Aviv.

    “We will not be silent when our government calls us ‘exceptions,’” the group said on Facebook. “We will not say thank you because here we are not thrown from the rooftops.”

    On Tuesday, Amir Ohana, the only openly gay lawmaker in the ruling Likud party and Hitman’s neighbor, said he would refuse to vote with coalition lawmakers until the government changed its stance on adoption.

    There are signs the pressure was having an effect. The High Court on Tuesday gave the state two months to reconsider its position on adoption. Welfare Minister Haim Katz had asked the court for time to do so, saying the state’s response was unfortunately worded.

    Supreme Court Gives Israel Two Months To Rethink Gay Adoption Policy
    JTAJuly 18, 2017
    Spokeswoman Sharona Mann said the Welfare Ministry is recommending a “complete overhaul of the outdated law” on adoptions, though she said her suggestion is not immediately “connected to same-sex parents.”

    A poll commissioned last month by the Israeli religious pluralism group Hiddush found 76 percent of Israelis, an all-time high, support gay marriage, compared to 53 percent in 2009.

    Tom Canning, the associate director of the Jerusalem Open House — the LGBT group behind the Jerusalem Pride March — said such attitudes could ultimately make it difficult for the government to sustain its “regressive” positions.

    “We’re seeing overwhelming support in Israeli society for same-sex marriage and acceptance of LGBT people in different walks of life, even outside Tel Aviv,” he said. “Even regarding the latest adoption decision, there has been a huge outcry not only from LGBT people but from all Israelis, who feel it does not reflect their beliefs.

    “I don’t know if it’s enough to change government policy, but I think it’s going to be a concern for the government to manage public opinion.”

    Still, Hitman said he and his friends in the gay community are not optimistic about their future in Israel. He said they feel under siege by the country’s growing and increasingly powerful Orthodox Jewish population and by right-wing politicians they say are unwilling to stand up for democratic values.

    “People are worried and angry about the situation. They see Israel becoming like ‘The Handmaid’s Tale,’” he said, referring to the hit Hulu TV series about a right-wing religious cult that takes power in the United States. “Everyone knows that 20, 30, 40 years from now, the most religious people will be the majority. All of us are afraid for the first religious prime minister.”

    Eventually, Hitman said, he plans to live outside of Israel — in New York or London, where he hopes to stage his musicals – and believes his children will have more opportunities there. He is worried the Israeli government will make them, and their parents, “second-class citizens.”

    Hitman noted another challenge faced by gay couples: All children of non-Jewish surrogate mothers must undergo an acceptable conversion if they are to be considered Jewish by the Chief Rabbinate, which controls Jewish marriage and divorce. While this is little more than a formality for babies of opposite-sex couples, the Chief Rabbinate does not allow the conversion of those who will be brought up in gay households.

    “In Israel, they are not Jewish, they can’t even get married in a normal way,” Hitman said of his children. “Abroad, I believe they will be respected for who they are.”

    Despite his worries, Hitman said he has received dozens of positive messages about his Facebook post from religious Jews. Even several who oppose gay adoption told him they admired him and his family and wished them the best. He read JTA a message from a well-known religious musician, who told him that his Facebook post had inspired him to move toward coming out as gay. Hitman said he planned to offer counsel to his fellow musician.

    “These aren’t bad people,” he said. “I just want my kids to grow up in a decent country.”

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