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

January 26, 2020

Tenn. Gov. Bill Lee Signs Bill to Allow Adoption Agencies to Deny to Gay Couples

Image result for uits raining homeless babies
Image result for uits raining homeless babies
Every kid you see in all three photos are either homeless or orphans
Image result for uits raining homeless babies

Bill Lee has finished his first year in office as the 50th Governor of Tennessee.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed a controversial measure Friday that would let religious adoption agencies deny service to same-sex couples.

The move comes after several groups, including the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, urged Lee not to sign the legislation.

The law allows adoption agencies to refuse to participate in child placement if doing so would "violate the agency's written religious or moral convictions or policies."

Under the law, which immediately takes effect, the state would be barred from denying an agency's license or grant application for public funds because of a refusal to place a child with a family based on religious objections.

“The governor believes that protection of rights is important, especially religious liberty," Lee spokesman Gillum Ferguson said. "This bill is centered around protecting the religious liberty of Tennesseans and that’s why he signed it.”

Bill Lee has finished his first year in office as the 50th Governor of Tennessee.
Advocacy groups, including the Campaign for Southern Equality and the Human Rights Campaign, said the legislation targeted members of the LGBTQ community.

But proponents of the legislation, which included religious conservatives, said it was a necessary protection for faith-based groups.

Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said in a recent column published in The Tennessean the legislation puts children first and argued that it does not promote discrimination. 

He said the law doesn't prevent other organizations from helping children.

"This law prevents the state from discriminating against faith-based organizations as they serve and meet the needs of children. It does not restrict others at all," he wrote.

The governor's signature comes a little over a week after the state Senate approved the measure with a 20-6 vote, despite objections from several Republicans, including Lt. Gov. Randy McNally.

Hedy Weinberg, executive director of ACLU-TN, said the organization is considering its options.

The Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, was more direct, saying, "This law is clearly discriminatory. As long as the LGBTQ community continues to be targeted by discriminatory laws, we will turn to the courts for recourse."

Beach-Ferrara said other states, including Michigan, implemented similar laws and had them halted in court.

"We anticipate that litigation around discrimination focused on adoption will continue to unfold, and the Tennessee law signed today will be part of that conversation,” she said.

Follow Joel Ebert on Twitter: @joelebert29.

August 22, 2019

Evangelicals Are Most Likely To Adopt BUT What Happens When The Adoptee is Also LGBT?


Comedian Joel Kim Booster performs onstage during the TBS Comedy Festival in 2017. (Getty)
Evangelical Christians are the religious group most likely to adopt but are also most likely to oppose homosexuality, which can make life complicated for gay adopted kids.

Late one night a few years ago, my 14-year-old daughter, Kayla, texted me. 
She’d prefixed her contact name in my cellphone to read “911,” a way of asserting her significance in my life. Seeing it always made me smile. It was after midnight, but I dutifully respondedText bubbles danced for long moments on my screen before her next message popped up:
I blinked. My finger hovered uncertainly over my iPhone screen as I read and reread her text.

My husband and I had adopted Kayla and her brother, Devon, out of foster care over a decade earlier. When she first came to live with us, she was 2, with dimples, gobs of curly hair, and an offbeat sense of humor. Her freckle-faced brother, Devon, was 3. Kayla didn’t yet have a conscious awareness of her sexual identity, and it didn’t occur to me she might be gay. I was far more concerned about her low self-esteem and difficulties with attachment as she adjusted into our family.
I was raised in the heady, evangelical Christian movement of the ’80s and ’90s. For many years, I unquestioningly accepted the belief that homosexuality was wrong and a behavioral choice, but during my thirties, I became disenchanted with the religion of my youth. I reconsidered the tenets of my faith and the shortfalls of organized religion and its anti-abortion, anti-gay, pro-gun political agenda.
During that time, my conservative ideology shifted, including my stance on LGBTQ issues. I worked from home and often chatted over IM with my coworker Brian about our kids. He had an adopted teenage son, a few years older than my kids, and was the most devoted and involved dad I knew. I imagined his family — his wife and son — to be happy and close just like my own family.
But Brian didn’t have a wife. I eventually discovered he had a partner named Chris. They’d been together for more years than most married couples I knew, defying the evangelical stereotype of gay men as unfit parents, incapable of monogamy. Despite the prejudice against same-sex couples, they were successfully raising a happy and healthy adopted son. Witnessing this reality, I was compelled to evaluate my beliefs about the LGBTQ community and my positions on issues like gay marriage and adoption.
After years of soul-searching, I left the evangelical church behind. I embraced a more progressive Christianity — one that would prepare me for the late-night texting with my daughter only a couple years later.
Swikar Patel for BuzzFeed N
Portrait of Kayla Williams and her dog, Pocket, in her Charlotte home on July 28. Pocket can only walk for a little bit, so Williams often carries her most of the way.
That night, when Kayla nervously texted me, I wasn’t conflicted about her sexuality. The only reason my finger hovered over my iPhone screen was that I wasn’t sure how to formulate a response that would adequately assure her of my love and acceptance.
Afraid to let the seconds stretch into a message of their own, I responded: 
 Kayla has since had two girlfriends and has come out to friends and family. As I’ve watched her blossom into her authentic self, I’m haunted by how things could have gone so differently for her if my religious convictions had not evolved.
Our situation is not unique. According to the Adoption Network, there are 135,000 children adopted each year, most from foster care, like Kayla was. And based on a 2014 UCLA School of Law study, more than 1 in 5 kids in the foster care system is LGBTQ.
Conservative Christians are the religious group most likely to adopt, but also the group most likely to oppose homosexuality. Many Christian adopters are licensed by faith-based agencies like the one I adopted through.
These agencies, which historically do not work with LGBTQ couples, are the cornerstone of the child welfare system in the US. For example, according to a 2017 story in the Arkansas Times, a single faith-based organization recruits over half the state’s foster homes. Faith-based agencies’ ubiquity has led to ongoing legal battles over whether faith-based agencies who refuse to work with same-sex couples should continue to receive government funding.
In the meantime, LGBTQ adoptees placed in anti-gay families by faith-based agencies face all sorts of difficulties — and significant long-term impacts to their health and well-being.  Every adoption, no matter how positive, starts with separation and loss. Some situations are more challenging than others. For example, children adopted out of foster care or orphanages may have been neglected, abused, or abandoned. According to a report by the Child Welfare Information Gateway, trauma like this, especially during the first five years of life, when the brain is most vulnerable, can cause a child’s brain not to develop optimally.
“Children who are abused and neglected early in life can internalize loss and betrayal. They view the world as unsafe and unpredictable,” said Forrest Lien of Lifespan Trauma Consulting. “Adoption doesn’t erase these impacts. Even in the most nurturing and loving of homes, healing these deep hurts takes years as well as effective professional intervention.” Research shows children with early childhood trauma are at higher risk for substance abuse, incarceration, mental health issues, and chronic physical diseases than their peers.
Adoptees have a lot stacked against them even if they don’t have to wrestle with their sexual identity in a family that might be anti-gay. “A sense of rejection is already present for the adopted foster child. Being rejected for a fundamental part of ‘self’ cuts even deeper,” explained Kelly Crenshaw, a reverend based in Maryland who advocates for LGBTQ youth. “It’s another piece of baggage to carry through life that just makes things more complicated: Are people going to accept me? Will I be allowed to date? Do I have to hide my real self? What if my family doesn’t want me anymore?”
When we went through the process to adopt Kayla, a toddler at the time, our Christian agency didn’t ask how we would feel if we later discovered she was LGBTQ. Like Kayla, many children are adopted too young to be aware of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and it’s the furthest thing from the minds of their adoptive parents when they jump in heart-first. 
That said, conservative Christians don’t necessarily shy away from adopting children who think they are gay. Many view homosexuality as the behavior they can help the child overcome — like overeating or lying. These adapters are confident that with proper parenting and religious instruction, they can keep their child from the “homosexual lifestyle.” This is the sincere, albeit ignorant, belief of most conservative Christians.
Unfortunately, even the most sincere convictions, by the most well-intentioned people, can be incredibly damaging. Alex was adopted into a loving family and attended a Christian school from kindergarten through 12th grade. He appeared to have it all — a private school education, devoted parents, and the affluence to go on expensive vacations. Alex was also gay. 
He first began to grapple with his sexual identity in third grade when his Christian school classmates mocked his seemingly effeminate behavior. Even though he knew he likely was gay, he sensed it was something to be ashamed of. He’d heard his mother make snarky comments like, “Don’t act like such a girl.” And in school and church, the message was loud and clear: Christians can’t be gay.
Alex became convinced something was intrinsically wrong with him. He was uncomfortable at school, church, and home. “I didn’t want to be gay. For the longest time I suppressed who I was. I tried to ignore it,” he told me in an interview in June. “I would pray about it and beg God to change me.” He even tried masturbating while imagining girls, but nothing worked.
In high school, Alex’s teacher cornered him one day after their Marriage and Family class. She had spent the last few weeks teaching about “the life cycle of the homosexual man” and the unavoidable, tragic consequences faced by those who acted on same-sex attraction. She asked Alex if he was struggling with homosexual feelings and said it was common for adopted kids, especially if they had domineering mothers and passive fathers. While pressuring him to confess, the teacher assured Alex that he could be fixed.
Despite her persistence, Alex adamantly denied he was gay. After all, the “fix” for gayness would have included prayer, Bible study, being forced to embrace “correct” gendered behavior, and school discipline — including possible expulsion. 
These are common approaches among many conservative Christian parents, churches, and other institutions. Focus on the Family, an evangelical organization that’s a leading authority in conservative Christian circles, says on its website, “Homosexual behavior is just one of the many sins God forgives and brings people out of.” Based on this ideology, some evangelical parents may enroll their LGBTQ kids in classes or programs designed to help those “confused about their sexuality” accept “God’s best” for their lives — heterosexuality.
Conversion therapy is another destructive practice, explored in recent films like Boy Erased and The Miseducation of Cameron Post. While the recently reintroduced “Every Child Deserves a Family Act” includes protections to safeguard adopted children from conversion therapy, it continues to be a frightening option in most states.
According to the Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ young people, these damaging practices are startlingly common. “In some cases, adoptive parents who are not supportive of their LGBTQ children may attempt to change their sexual orientation or gender identity,” says Amy E. Green, director of research for the Trevor Project. “In fact, 2 in 3 LGBTQ youth reported that someone tried to convince them to change their sexual orientation or gender identity, which resulted in almost triple the rate of youth attempting suicide in the past year.”
Alex kept his secret throughout high school and only began to understand being gay wasn’t dirty or wrong when he was exposed to a wider swath of people and ideas during college. He began to live openly with his friends but still kept the secret from his parents. He says, “I was nervous if they found out, they’d cut me off and I’d be on my own. I avoided spending a lot of time with them because I had to act differently around them. I was always afraid of slipping up.” 
Now 23 years old, Alex has earned a college degree and recently started a new job. He asked that I not use his real name for this story because he still hasn’t come out to his adoptive parents. He is uncertain what their response will be but says he won’t breathe easy until he knows he’s able to independently support himself. According to a 2015 Pew Research survey, only 30% of the members of the largest Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptists, believe homosexuality should be accepted in society. This statistic might drop even lower if the respondents were asked if they believe homosexuality should be accepted in their own family.
“When LGBTQ young people see their sexual orientation or gender identity up for public debate using harmful rhetoric, they can feel that their lives are worth less than their straight or cisgender peers,” says Green. The statistics bear this out with disproportionately higher suicide rates and soaring homelessness among LGBTQ youth. 
“Until they really get to know LGBTQ people — including LGBTQ Christians — and hear our stories, some Christians have mistaken beliefs about us and our lives,” says Justin Lee, an LGBTQ Christian activist and the author of 2012’s Torn: Rescuing The Gospel From the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate. “In many cases, they think they’re showing ‘tough love’ and actually helping us with their hurtful language. But because they’ve never walked in our shoes, they don’t realize how their words push people away from their own families and even from their faith.”
Over the last handful of years, many conservative Christian churches and institutions have recognized how alienating their anti-gay agenda can be and have consequently changed their language around the issue. Some nonaffirming church denominations, including the International Pentecostal Holiness Church, Southern Baptist Convention, and Assemblies of God, offer programs for those struggling with “unwanted” same-sex attraction but are unwilling to accept for membership those who are out and plan to remain so.
Others, like the popular megachurch Hillsong, “welcome” members of the LGBTQ community, while not actually affirming them. LGBTQ people are encouraged to attend, but they cannot occupy roles of leadership in the church. And while Hillsong does not list its belief that homosexuality is sinful clearly on its website, it is documented in its statement of faith. While the language used by some of these churches has changed, their fundamental beliefs have not.
These same churches are active in the adoption movement. Crenshaw said, “I believe that many people honestly desire to help neglected and abused children. And many of those who want to help come from faith communities that promote reaching out into their communities. Unfortunately, many of these faith communities turn out to be among the more conservative of our Christian brothers and sisters.”  
Like many Christians, I became a foster parent and later adopted based on an appeal from the pulpit. The pastor of our Florida megachurch called on the congregation of more than 20,000 to single-handedly end the “orphan crisis” in our county by becoming foster parents or adopting.
The adoption mandate for Christians is rooted in James 1:27, which says pure religion is caring for orphans in distress. Many Christians view adoption as a way to walk out their faith. In addition, adoption is considered a way to offer a religious upbringing to adoptees.
Christians began to champion adoption in the early 2000s by forming adoption ministries and throwing their support behind faith-based agencies, including the agency I used. Over time, they’ve come to monopolize the adoption market, given their access to highly motivated and passionate recruits. This led to a boom in expensive and ethically dubious international adoptions, which tapered off over the last decade due to new international restrictions. However, Christians remain passionate about adopting, particularly adopting children domestically out of foster care.
Churches and faith-based organizations provide valuable support — often not found elsewhere — to adoptive families, including childcare and financial services, support, community groups, and advocacy. Each year, thousands of well-meaning Christiansinvest their money, time, energy, and other resources into adoption. 
However, their compassion is lost in translation when it comes to LGBTQ young people. “They often don’t realize how much pain they’re inflicting on LGBTQ people by refusing to accept them, but they are. It’s incredibly damaging,” says Lee.
Comedian Joel Kim Booster was born in South Korea and adopted as an infant by a conservative Christian couple from the Midwest. When Booster realized he was gay as a young child, he knew his parents would not be accepting. “I had no idea what their response would be,” he says, “but when you’re 16, you sort of assume the worst. That was the narrative at the time around conservative parents: They find out, they kick you out, and you’re fucked, or they send you to conversion therapy and you’re fucked in a whole different set of ways. I was worried about both of those outcomes.” Once they found out, Booster knew the relationship was too toxic to remain living at home, so he left.
Far too often, adopted LGBTQ children, like Booster, become the collateral damage of the anti-gay convictions of their well-meaning Christian parents. “I have worked with so many kids and teens who don’t fit in with the parents who raise them,” says Crenshaw. “They did their best to fit in, but as a square peg in a round hole; it never quite worked out.” 
Now that children are coming out as LGBTQ at younger and younger ages, many are actively exploring their sexual orientation or gender identity when they are adopted. If we had known Kayla identified as LGBTQ when we first adopted her, what might we have done with that information? Using an ideological standard to approve adoptive parents is a slippery slope, akin to what faith-based agencies have done by excluding same-sex couples from adopting. Furthermore, there are ethical and practical concerns with collecting information about the sexual orientation of kids who are being adopted.
The Family Acceptance Project (FAP) of San Francisco State University is working to change the discourse around LGBTQ acceptance from “right and wrong” to “health and wellness.” Its evidence-based research has shown this can protect the well-being of LGBTQ youth even in families where the parents believe homosexuality is wrong.
“We have found that families can learn to support their LGBTQ children when information is presented in ways that resonate with their values and beliefs — to protect their children and to help them have a good life, to strengthen and keep their families together. In essence, what we have done is to give families a different way of thinking about their LGBTQ children by shifting the discourse on homosexuality from morality to health and well-being,” wrote FAP’s director, Caitlin Ryan, in a 2014 report. 
Lee grew up in a Southern Baptist family and remains a devout Christian. He educates conservative Christian parents about the needs of their LGBTQ children and is hopeful there is a way forward for these families. He says, “Parents and children may not always agree on morals and theology, but they can still have a healthy relationship if they have healthy, open lines of communication.”
With hundreds of thousands of children waiting in foster care to be adopted, and thousands of conservative Christian families stepping up to help, these are the types of approaches needed to ensure LGBTQ adoptees grow up in healthy and nurturing homes.
I’m glad Kayla felt safe to come out to me, even if it was through a late-night text message. Now 16, she says, “First I told some of my friends and then my brother. I wanted to tell you because I felt uncomfortable whenever you talked about me dating boys. It was hard because it’s a big thing and I didn’t know what you would say.”
Kayla told me she’s relieved she doesn’t have to hide being gay from me because she’s seen how it affects her LGBTQ friends. “It stressed me and my ex-girlfriend out because her parents don’t know she is gay. She feels like she can’t tell them until she is able to move out.” 
Coming out can be a scary moment for any young person, but even more so for adopted kids. By coming out, they risk losing their tenuous, budding relationships with new family members. They may be risking everything.
Alex says he’s felt emotionally disconnected from his parents for a long time. “Our relationship could have been different if I didn’t have to hide who I was. No kid deserves to live in a family where they aren’t accepted and loved for who they are.” ●

Keri Williams lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her family. She's a mental health and adoption advocate. She blogs at and you can find her on social media @RaisingDevon.

July 25, 2019

Gay American Couple Sues The State Dept For Denying Citizenship to Their Babies

CreditCreditJohnathon Kelso for The New York Times

This summer, James Derek Mize and his husband, Jonathan Gregg, celebrated their daughter’s first birthday at home in Atlanta with a party that coincided with WorldPride. Dressed in a rainbow outfit, the birthday girl, Simone, did what toddlers are bound to do: Took a fleeting glance at her presents and instead found delight in her favorite “toy,” an outdoor water hose.

It was a memorable day for the family, her parents recalled. It was also a respite from the looming reality that Simone, who was born abroad with the help of a surrogate, would soon be at risk of being removed from the country that is her home.

“I try not to think about ICE coming to our door and deporting our baby,” Mr. Mize said in an interview last week. “That is a pretty hard thing to think about.”

On Tuesday, the couple filed a discrimination lawsuit against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over the department’s decision to deny citizenship to Simone, even though both Mr. Mize and Mr. Gregg are American. 

The case centers on a State Department policy that affects children born abroad through assisted reproductive technology. The policy focuses on showing biological parentage in order to transmit citizenship. It has come under intense scrutiny for its effect on same-sex couples, who cannot conceive on their own and are often surprised that their children do not qualify for citizenship at birth.

At least two other same-sex couples are suing the State Department for similar reasons. Last month, nearly 100 Democratic members of Congress called on Mr. Pompeo to reverse the policy, which they called “cruel” and “deeply disturbing.”

The Mize-Gregg family’s situation was highlighted in a New York Times article this year: Mr. Mize, born and raised in the United States, is a citizen. Mr. Gregg, born in Britain to an American mother, is an American citizen as well. The couple, who married in 2015 in the United States, decided to start a family with the help of a close British friend, who offered to be their surrogate.

Simone was born in Britain last year, using a donor egg and the sperm of her British-born father. Her fathers were in the delivery room, the lawsuit says, and they are the only parents listed on her birth certificate.

But when the family returned to their home in the Atlanta area and later applied for Simone’s American passport, they were denied. 

The State Department’s focus on biological parentage means that if the source of the sperm and egg do not match married parents, the case can be treated as “out of wedlock,” a designation that comes with a higher bar to transmit citizenship.

Mr. Gregg, who moved to the United States to be with his husband, did not meet a five-year residency requirement. His lawyers say that requirement would not have applied if they had been treated as the married couple they are.

For two married United States citizens, “all the law requires is that one of them lived in America for at least one day,” said Aaron Morris, the executive director of Immigration Equality, which has worked on all three lawsuits.

“Marriage is so fundamental to how you define a family,” he said. “To disenfranchise a little girl of citizenship because she has two dads is invidious discrimination that has been struck down time and time again.”

The State Department declined to comment on Tuesday, citing pending litigation. In court documents, the department has argued that the policy does not discriminate and applies to opposite-sex and same-sex couples alike.

But gay couples argue that they are far more likely to be questioned about their conception methods when applying for citizenship. Immigration Equality said that it had heard from at least three dozen families in similar situations since mid-2017; by the organization’s account, most were same-sex couples.

In court documents, the State Department has said that rules for passing down citizenship for children born abroad are important for preventing fraud and ensuring that children born abroad have a sufficient connection to the United States to warrant citizenship. 

The policy on assisted reproductive technology is based on an interpretation of immigration law, which includes language that children are “born” of their parents and mentions a “blood relationship” in certain cases.

Karen Loewy, a lawyer with Lambda Legal, said that the State Department is “reading a biology requirement into the words of the statute that don’t exist.”

“What the State Department is doing is applying a provision of the law that only comes into play if you are considering them a nonmarital couple,” said Ms. Loewy, who worked with Immigration Equality on the case.

While the policy has existed in some form for years, the issue took on new urgency after the Supreme Court recognized same-sex marriages in 2015.

Under the Obama administration, the State Department adjusted the requirement so that a parent could also establish a biological connection by giving birth, in addition to supplying the egg or sperm. That allows a lesbian couple to have a child “in wedlock” if one woman provides the egg and the other carries the baby.

Under the Trump administration, the State Department is fighting the lawsuits in court, a move that critics argue is in line with other efforts by the administration to roll back protections for gay, bisexual and transgender people.

In one case, a married Israeli-American gay couple had twin sons in Canada using sperm from each of the fathers. The biological son of the American received citizenship, but his brother, the biological son of the Israeli, did not. In a ruling this year, a federal judge sided with the couple, calling the department’s interpretation of the immigration law “strained.” The State Department is appealing. 

The government is also facing a similar suit from a lesbian couple in London. One woman is American and the other is Italian. The women took turns conceiving and carrying their two children. Only the child born to the American mother was granted citizenship.

On a recent visit to New York to celebrate Pride, one of the mothers, Allison Blixt, said she worried that their son, now 4, would soon start to ask questions. “We walk up with all these passports and at some point, Lucas is going to notice that he is different,” she said.

The Mize-Gregg family said they were wary of adding their names to the list. Mr. Gregg, who works as a management consultant while his husband stays home to care for Simone, learned he had a benign brain tumor last year and underwent surgery to have it removed, all while raising an infant, the family said. They weren’t sure they had the energy for a legal fight.

“We just kept returning to how we would be telling this story to Simone later in life,” Mr. Mize said. “We never want her to think we didn’t fight for her.”

There were also practical considerations.

Simone’s tourist visa will expire at the end of July, according to the family and their lawyers.

She will not be permitted to go outside the country, leaving her unable to travel to her grandparents and relatives abroad. “We cannot visit them,” Mr. Gregg said. “She is landlocked.”

She does not have a Social Security number, her family said, and her parents were not able to claim her as a dependent on their tax returns. 

And without citizenship at birth, she would not have certain rights in the future, such as the ability to run for president.

“We are very conscious that this first year of Simone’s life is very special and precious, and we will never get it back,” Mr. Mize said. “We are trying every day to live in the moment and to enjoy this time despite what is happening.”

He said there had been plenty of parenting moments to treasure in recent weeks: Simone learning to walk. Simone bouncing in the living room to her favorite song, “Baby Shark.” Simone saying her first words.

“She points at us,” he said, “and says, ‘Dada.’”

July 20, 2019

Two Boys Were Adopted in 2010 in Moscow{Gay Couple} Now Russian Government Opens Criminal Case

It all started when a 12-year-old boy was brought to a Moscow hospital with a stomachache last month. The doctors suspected appendicitis. But the checkup quickly took a different turn. When the boy mentioned that he is adopted and lives with two dads, the doctor called the police.
On Wednesday, Russia's Investigative Committee, the country's main federal investigative body, officially launched a criminal case against the officials who allowed one of the fathers to adopt children. It is the first case of its kind, Interfax news agency reported. 
According to Russian officials, two adopted boys have been living with the man since 2010, and the man is "cohabiting with another man." A statement on the Investigative Committee website accused the man of "promoting non-traditional relationships, giving the children distorted perceptions about family values and harming their health and their moral and spiritual development." Investigators accuse the social workers behind the adoption of negligence and say they were aware that the father is in a gay relationship.
There is currently no case against the adoptive parents, Maksim Olenichev, a lawyer for the LGBT rights group Vykhod ("coming out"), told DW. At least, not yet. But Olenichev thinks it's only a matter of time. Along with Stimul, a group providing legal aid to the LGBTQI community, Vykhod has already been advising the men, who are currently on a family holiday outside of Russia and aren't speaking to the press. 
Potential for a second landmark case
Neither gay marriage nor civil unions between same-sex couples are legal in Russia, meaning there is no law explicitly banning same-sex Russian couples from adopting children. Since 2013, the Russian family code has stipulated that people from countries where gay marriage is legal cannot adopt Russian children and that Russians who adopt children cannot be in a single-sex union registered abroad.
But Olenichev anticipates that another law could be applied to the gay couple if a case is brought against them. Russia also passed the so-called gay propaganda law in 2013. It bans any public promotion of "non-traditional sexual relations" to minors. 
The law has been condemned internationally as discriminatory. It is seen as so broad that Olenichev says it can be applied as an "arbitrary weapon," with individuals such as judges enforcing it in whichever way they choose.
"So far, the law has been enforced so that LGBT people don't carry out public events," Olenichev said, pointing to gay pride parades as an example. He says the very concept of propaganda implies something that shapes public opinion rather than domestic situations. If the law is used to open a case against the father of the adopted sons, it "could become the first time that this law is applied to someone's private life," he added.
LGBT acitivsts drive by Moscow's mayor office holding a flare and rainbow flag riding on a quad-bike during an unauthorized gay rights activists rally (picture-alliance/dpa/S. Ilnitsky)
Even holding a rainbow flag can be considered 'gay propaganda' in Russia
LGBT prejudice persists in Russia
Russia's LGBT community members and activists face an environment that is generally unreceptive at best and hostile at worst. Just under half of all Russians — some 47% — believe lesbians and gays should have equal rights, the independent Levada Center pollster found in May. This is the highest rate since 2005. 
But the Levada Center has also found that more than half of Russians feel negative about representatives of the LGBT community. Nearly half of all Russians say that if their neighbors were a homosexual couple, they would feel irritated, afraid or distrustful of them.
People in the country often equate being homosexual with being a pedophile or having mental issues, even though homosexuality has been established as a normal sexual orientation in major international psychological and health classifications. But prejudice persists: An article in the populist newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda about the gay couple and their adopted sons seemingly implied that the boy's stomachache that brought him to the doctor could have been caused by some sort of violence at home.  
Family politics in Russia are conservative, with increasing importance given to "traditional family values" — such as heterosexual relationships and procreation — in part to counteract demographic trends including an aging population. This week, Valentina Matvienko, the speaker of Russia's upper house of parliament, said that single-sex couples adopting children would "simply lead to the extinction of humanity" and would erode fundamental social ideas.
However, in the recent high-profile case of the adoptive fathers, Irina Kirkova, the executive secretary of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights, surprisingly expressed her support for the gay couple.
On Wednesday she pointed out that in Russia, children are regularly brought up by three women, for example, a mother, a grandmother and an aunt, and that there shouldn't be a problem with two men doing the same. "What happens behind closed doors at their home is their business," Interfax quoted her as having said. "In the same way, mum and dad don't tell their kids details about what happens between them behind closed doors."
A close-knit family 
Olenichev described Russian society as a whole as very conservative, but he emphasized that the outcome of a potential case against the gay fathers ultimately would "depend on the individuals making the decisions." It's hard to predict what will happen to them, he added, though he doesn't seem optimistic that the family will escape a case against them. 
Investigators are currently checking the children's family circumstances, Olenichev said. He confirmed to DW that the adopted boys are 12 and 14 years old. One of the men in the family works at the Higher School of Economics, a state university in Russia, and the family is quite "well off," he said. Along with the men, a grandmother and a nanny have been taking care of the boys.
Olenichev took care to emphasize that the children feel "comfortable and safe in the family" and that a psychologist has found the relationship between the parents and children to be close and affectionate. He even pointed out that there were no "indications of violence in the family."
His emphasis on the psychological well-being of the adopted children reflects public opinion in Russia, a challenge for the LGBT community — and a potential challenge for the family should a case be opened against them.

May 31, 2019

Trump Admin and The State Of South Carolina Sued Over Gay Couple Turned Away By Foster Agency

                           Image result for south carolina against gay foster care


  • ABC News
    Advocacy groups on Thursday sued the Trump administration and state of South Carolina on behalf of a same-sex, married couple after a Christian ministry allegedly denied them from participating in its federally funded foster care program.  
    The American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal filed the lawsuit, citing a decision by the administration’s Health and Human Services to waive an anti-discrimination rule for the South Carolina ministry.
    The ministry – Miracle Hill Ministries of Greenville, South Carolina – has said it always worked exclusively with couples that share its Christian faith.
    The lawsuit comes as the Trump administration weighs a request by the Texas attorney general to roll back Obama-era regulations that prohibit foster care providers fromdiscriminating against parents based on religion or sexual orientation.
    The couple at the center of the lawsuit, Brandy Welch and Eden Rogers, called the experience of being turned away by Miracle Hill Ministries “hurtful and insulting.”
    “Faith is a part of our family life, so it is hurtful and insulting to us that Miracle Hill’s religious view of what a family must look like deprives foster children of a nurturing, supportive home,” the couple, who have been married for three years, said in a statement.
    The Trump administration has taken several steps to expand legal protections for groups and individuals on religious grounds such as announcing protections for health care workers who object to various services based on personal beliefs.
    At this year's National Prayer Day service, President Donald Trump said he was committing his administration to "preserve the central role of faith-based adoption and foster care agencies to care for vulnerable children while following their deeply held beliefs."
     "As far as the broad picture, what we hope happens is that organizations aren't allowed to discriminate based on religion, especially when they're receiving federal funding, and that category of people that are allowed to foster represents the ... different types of children that need fostering," Welch told ABC News. "Right now, they're only allowing people in this certain small little box to foster, and I don't really believe that all the children fit into that small little box either. So I think a fair representation would be better."

    Image result for south carolina against gay foster care

     Days before President Barack Obama left office, he expanded anti-discrimination rules for federally backed foster care providers to include religion and sexual orientation. The issue arose for Miracle Hill when a Jewish woman was turned away by the agency because Miracle Hill insisted that it had always worked only with Christians that shared its faith.
    Miracle Hill appealed to the state governor, who secured a federal waiver for the rule by the Department of Health and Human Services. This allowed the organization to deny placement of children with anyone who violates its religious beliefs while still accepting money from federally funded state child welfare agencies.
    In a statement, Lambda Legal and the ACLU said the state and the federal waiver “enabled taxpayer-funded foster care agencies to use religious criteria to exclude families based on their faith and sexual orientation.”
    “By allowing Miracle Hill to discriminate against this couple, the government is not only favoring certain religious beliefs over others but is also placing those beliefs above what is in the best interest of children in foster care,” said Currey Cook, counsel and director of youth at Lambda Legal’s Out-Of-Home Care Project.
    After Miracle Hill was granted its religious waiver, the Texas attorney general asked the administration to repeal the rule or at least exempt the entire state from the policy.
    In a Dec. 17, 2018, letter to HHS, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton claimed that a rule violates a law that protects organizations from acting against their religious beliefs.
    In response to the Texas request, an HHS spokesman said the request by Texas remains under consideration and that the administration “does not generally comment on the details of pending requests that are not public.”

    May 25, 2019

    Trump Planning to Roll Back Obama Rules For Same Sex Adoptions

    The Trump administration will soon make it easier for adoption agencies to reject same-sex couples, senior administration officials told Axios.

    Why it matters: President Trump is steadily rolling back Obama-era nondiscrimination policies across the entire federal government — including health care, housing and the military.

    Details: Former President Obama banned adoption and foster-care agencies from receiving federal funding if they refused to work with same-sex couples. Religious organizations have consistently bristled at that policy, arguing that they're being forced to contradict their beliefs.

    Administration officials said the White House is weighing two options: either rescinding those rules altogether, or adding an explicit exemption for religious organizations.

    The debate is mainly about which approach would hold up better in court, the officials said. A religious exemption seems to have the upper hand for now, but that could change.
    Trump alluded to this issue at the National Prayer Breakfast earlier this year, but did not announce a formal policy.

    The process is now far enough along that an announcement could happen by early July, the officials said.
    Between the lines: The formal policy would come from the Health and Human Services Department's Office of Civil Rights — which has been at the forefront of Trump's broader effort to accommodate religious organizations and roll back nondiscrimination rules.

    The director of that office, Roger Severino, would not directly address questions about the adoption policy during a brief interview, pointing instead to other actions his office has already taken.

    Just this morning, OCR said it will scrap an Obama-era policy that says doctors can't discriminate against transgender patients. (That policy had already been frozen by a federal judge.) It has also expanded health care workers' legal right to refuse to perform services that violate their religious beliefs.

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