Showing posts with label Gay Parents. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gay Parents. Show all posts

January 17, 2019

Gay Fathers Face Major Stigma As Parents


(Reuters Health) - Even as parenting by same-sex couples becomes more common in the U.S., many gay men and their families still experience discrimination and are stigmatized by relatives, neighbors, salespeople and other members of their communities, a study suggests.

Creating families has gotten easier over the years for gay men. Medical advances have made it possible for them to father children through surrogacy, and more adoption and foster agencies have encouraged them to become parents to non-biological children. And the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide in 2015, advancing legal parenting rights for same-sex couples with children.

But almost two-thirds of gay fathers experience stigma based on their status as homosexual dads, and half of them avoid situations out of fear of mistreatment or discrimination, the current study found.

Their children experience stigma, too. One-third of gay fathers said their kids were stigmatized by other children, and one in five dads said their children had avoided forming friendships out of fear of mistreatment or discrimination.

“Legal protections today are much more expansive than they were a decade ago, which in turn means that the stigma faced by gay fathers - and, by extension, lesbian mothers - should be less than in the past,” said Brian Powell, a sociology researcher at Indiana University in Bloomington who wasn’t involved in the study.

“But these protections are not universally provided across all states,” Powell said by email.

For the study, researchers surveyed 732 gay fathers with 1,316 children in 47 states.

Researchers ranked states based on how many legal protections they offered to gay parents that covered things like marriage, civil unions, domestic partnerships, adoption, child custody and anti-bullying policies. 

Not surprisingly, gay fathers were more likely to report stigma affecting their lives in states with fewer legal protections. They also reported more active discrimination in states with fewer legal protections, particularly from family members and in religious settings.

Overall, about 35 percent of the families in the study were formed through adoption or foster care, 15 percent with the assistance of a pregnancy carrier or surrogate, and 39 percent through a heterosexual relationship.

Families in states with more legal protections for gay parents were more likely to be formed by surrogacy, while men in states with few legal protections were more likely to become fathers through heterosexual relationships, the study found.

Many fathers reported barriers to becoming parents. About 41 percent had difficulties with adoption and one-third encountered problems arranging custody of children born in heterosexual relationships.

The study can’t prove whether parenting status or sexual orientation directly impacts discrimination, and it wasn’t nationally representative.

Most participants were white, and it’s also possible that gay fathers from other racial or ethnic groups might report different experiences, Dr. Ellen Perrin of Tufts Medical Center in Boston and colleagues write in Pediatrics.

Even so, the results underscore that legalizing gay marriage in the U.S. hasn’t eliminated discrimination and stigma experienced by same-sex parents, said Julia Raifman, a researcher at the Boston University School of Public Health who wasn’t involved in the study.

“These findings suggest that stigma persists for gay fathers, who reported experiencing the most stigma in religious institutions, in restaurants, and from neighbors,” Raifman said by email. “In states with less equal rights, gay men who wish to become fathers may be less likely to be able to become a parent and those who do become parents are more likely to experience stigma directed toward them.”

SOURCE: Pediatrics, online January 14, 2019.

September 10, 2018

Two Gay Men Are Having a Baby in Connecticut It's Not Easy and It Takes Time

By Sydney Page

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.
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.

Bill Johnson, left, and his husband, Kraig Wiedenfeld, with surrogate Christina Fenn and her husband, Brian Fenn. (Family photo)
“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.

He explains the series of checks that have been done to ensure that the embryo being transferred today is theirs. He says that it is growing at an ideal rate and that he feels confident the procedure will go smoothly. He outlines how he will implant the embryo into Fenn’s uterus and tells them the procedure’s success rate is 80 percent. 
Under a microscope in a room just down the hall, the embryo looks like a collection of bubbles encapsulated by a larger bubble.
In the same room, Fenn is lying on an exam table in a hospital gown, with her feet in stirrups and a sheet covering her lower body. She’s clutching her husband’s hand as Wiedenfeld and Johnson, who have been ushered into the room, watch from behind her.
“Here we go,” says Thornton, surrounded by nurses. “I’m inserting the embryo now. Watch the monitor and you’ll see a small dot enter the screen,” he tells the fathers-to-be. That’s your baby boy.” Johnson and Wiedenfeld, who are very close with their nephews, were excited that genetic testing of the embryo had revealed that a boy was in the offing.

As Thornton begins the implantation, sweat materializes on Johnson’s forehead. His husband, no less overwhelmed, fans himself with a pamphlet on in vitro fertilization.
Five minutes later, the embryo procedure is done. The nurses and the doctor congratulate the intended fathers and the surrogate. Everyone in the small room rejoices, hugging and grinning.
“This is the craziest thing I’ve ever done,” says Wiedenfeld, between deep breaths. “She is pregnant with my baby.”
Then the Fenns head home to their two children in Hebron, Conn., while Wiedenfeld and Johnson drive to their apartment in Manhattan, where they have already begun shopping for a crib.
Nine days later, Christina Fenn takes a pregnancy test: It’s positive.
This is the way a small but growing number of gay men are having children.
A process that takes time
While surrogacy seems like a tale of hope and happy endings for gay fathers, same-sex couples who choose to have biological children this way face legal hurdles, medical complications and daunting costs. And it can take time. 
Surrogacy experiences can extend beyond three years, but they average 20 months from the time the intended parents decide to pursue surrogacy to the delivery of a child, says Ron Poole-Dayan, director of Men Having Babies, a nonprofit that helps gay men become fathers. Fenn and the intended fathers met through a surrogacy agency in July 2017.
Surrogacy is uncommon in the United States, with perhaps fewer than 1,400 babies born each year with the assistance of a surrogate mother, including for both gay and straight couples.
Surrogacy and custody laws differ dramatically from state to state. That’s why the first step in the process for many is to find a location where it is legal to pay surrogates.
“It almost never happens that you have a surrogate who is willing to carry a child uncompensated for a family that she does not know. It’s extremely rare,” says New York surrogacy lawyer Brian Esser. He says an experienced surrogate’s compensation can be $40,000, with the bulk of that sum typically paid only after a child is born.

Hiring someone to be a surrogate is illegal in New York, so Wiedenfeld and Johnson had to go elsewhere. Luckily, a surrogacy agency matched them with someone close by.
As in Wiedenfeld and Johnson’s case, most gay surrogacy arrangements involve fertilizing one woman’s donated egg with sperm from the intended father, then injecting the embryo into a second woman, who carries the fetus. This requires an egg donor, a fertile father and a surrogate. It’s a team effort.
For Johnson and Wiedenfeld, choosing which of them would be the biological father was fairly simple. Of the two, Wiedenfeld is far more attached to the notion of his child being biologically related to him, while Johnson is simply excited by the prospect of becoming a father, especially if the baby has a biological connection to his husband.

And although Fenn and her husband are not biologically related to the embryo growing within her, they have agreed to appear in a Connecticut court 27 weeks into the pregnancy to renounce their parental rights, leaving the way free for Johnson and Wiedenfeld.
Having a child through surrogacy involves choices, Poole-Dayan points out: the increasingly uncommon traditional approach, in which the woman who carries the pregnancy is biologically related to the child, or gestational surrogacy, in which she is not; known vs. anonymous egg donor; using surrogacy agencies vs. independent arrangements.
Foremost, though, Poole-Dayan and other experts say, the surrogate and the intended parents must agree on how they envision their relationship. While some intended parents want to maintain distance after the birth, some surrogates seek close ties with the parents and the child. Egg donors, too, must choose whether to be anonymous or to have relationships. 
Whatever the agreement, the scene often becomes crowded with lawyers for the intended fathers, the surrogate and the donor; doctors for the surrogate, the egg donor and the implantation; and representatives of the agencies connecting these participants. And each of these links carries a price tag.
While surrogacy contracts vary, Esser says, the standard costs include an agency fee of around $25,000, $10,000 for the egg donor, $30,000 for the IVF and multiple embryo transfers, and legal fees that are likely to begin at $10,000. In addition to compensation once the baby is born, the surrogate will also get a fee of around $1,000 for each embryo transfer, regardless of whether it turns into a successful pregnancy. Other expenses include travel costs, maternity care, health insurance for the surrogate, missed wages for the surrogate (and her spouse), the pumping of breast milk after delivery, etc.
Wiedenfeld and Johnson were prepared for their surrogacy to be expensive. They have well-paying jobs: Wiedenfeld, born and raised in Texas, is a publicist; Johnson, originally from Rhode Island and a Princeton graduate, is the president of a brand-identity agency. Yet they were surprised by how quickly the costs multiplied. Initially, they were told to expect to pay around $50,000, but expenses soared to several times that much.
“I think a lot of agencies lowball estimates,” says Esser, so the actual cost can be jolting.
In their elegant apartment a month after witnessing the implantation, Wiedenfeld circles the empty nursery. “Airplanes, animals or cars?” he asks. “I want our baby to have the coolest wallpaper.”
“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, Kraig,” Johnson warns. Unlike his husband, he is hesitant to celebrate Fenn’s pregnancy. There’s still the possibility of a miscarriage. The 80 percent success rate they were told of, after all, means 20 percent failure.
For the couple, who did not have an elaborate wedding, having a baby is an important sign of sealing their relationship. “In a way, the baby is our marriage. It will really take us to the next level,” Wiedenfeld smiles at his husband. “This baby is going to be everything. It just is.”
The couple regularly send Fenn flowers and gifts out of gratitude for being their surrogate. “Yes, she is being paid, but it’s still something that involves a great deal of altruism,” Johnson says.
Their match was a result of good fortune and great timing. Fenn had recently informed her agency that she would pursue one more surrogacy, but only for a warm and loving gay couple within 100 miles who would be open to a strong relationship with her during the whole process.
Becoming a surrogate
After the birth of their second son in 2009, Fenn and her husband felt content with their family of four. They opened an eatery, FennAgains Irish Pub & Restaurant. But soon Fenn, who had loved being pregnant, yearned to have that feeling again. The problem: “I wanted to have a pregnancy, but I didn’t want to have the baby,” she says.
“When I’m pregnant, I feel that I take care of myself the best. I’m more conscious of how I feed myself. I’m more conscious of the activities I do. I take more vitamins and drink more water. I just feel so connected to my body and my self.”
Surrogacy became the solution, both gratifying her pregnancy lust and a way to help those who couldn’t do what she could.
Compensation, she says, wasn’t part of her motivation. Fenn did not want to disclose her financial arrangements, but she confirmed that Esser’s estimates were in the ballpark. There is a common misconception, she said, that surrogates are driven primarily by the money, but at least among her circle of surrogates, that’s not true. She said there has to be something bigger, given the intense emotional and physical effort that being a surrogate entails. In her case, there was also the knowledge, from the experience of a close family member, of how heartbreaking it can be to want a child but not be able to have one. “In actuality, when you break the money down into the hours spent, it’s very misleading” to suggest that people do this for money.
To become a surrogate, Fenn went through months of testing with a surrogacy agency, including a 600-question psychological examination and a full-body screening.
“Only 1 in 10 women qualifies as a surrogate, for health and psychological reasons,” says Robin Fleischner, a New York surrogacy lawyer.
Fenn is frequently asked why she is willing to be a surrogate. “ ‘How can you give up the baby?’ That’s the biggest question everyone has,” she says. “It’s a hurtful question, because it implies that we are coldhearted and don’t love the babies born through surrogacy. But it’s not my baby, and I’m very conscious of that through the whole process. When you’re pregnant with your own child, you are so connected. When you’re a surrogate, you truly love that baby, but there is a disconnect. A necessary disconnect.” In fact, she says, the most intense connection is with the parents-to-be who so long for a baby.
Fenn has agreed to be a surrogate only for gay male couples. She’s wary of heterosexual couples struggling with infertility.
“They usually don’t want contact with the surrogate after the birth and are [said to be] notoriously controlling during the pregnancy,” says Fenn, who has heard this sentiment frequently in her circle of surrogates.
Trying again
A month after she was implanted with the embryo, Fenn is back at CT Fertility for an ultrasound. Wiedenfeld and Johnson are there via FaceTime. This visit, though, isn’t as upbeat as the first: Thornton, CT Fertility’s doctor, scans Fenn’s belly and finds no signs of a fetal heartbeat; the embryo didn’t take.
Fenn, Wiedenfeld and Johnson are all deeply disappointed and shocked.
“The excitement was so high for such a heavy letdown,” says Fenn, between tears.
A few days later, Wiedenfeld says, “You assume that everything is going your way because it feels like you’re making it go your way. But this wasn’t in anyone’s control.” Still, he’s hopeful that a baby is coming in the future: “We’re feeling sad but also optimistic.”
Contractually, the couple and Fenn had agreed to make up to three attempts at a pregnancy. “We will all move on to a successful second transfer,” Fenn vows.
“When the baby does come, we will appreciate him that much more,” says Wiedenfeld. “What we’re willing to go through reinforces how badly we want this.”
And six months later, they do try again. Back at CT Fertility, garbed in green, the Fenns — Christina is 35, Brian is 39 — sit in the waiting room with Johnson and Wiedenfeld. This time, they are joined by Fenn’s best friend, a fellow surrogate. She, too, is transferring for the second time, after losing an embryo 13 weeks into her pregnancy.
The time between transfers had been difficult emotionally for everyone involved. Fenn says she felt frustrated with her body, unable to understand why the pregnancy didn’t stick or why it took so long to get her period again.
She knew that things weren’t much easier for the men. “I did give the guys some space,” Fenn says. “I knew they weren’t upset with me, but I didn’t think it was appropriate to keep reopening the wound. We waited until we were all emotionally ready to connect again.”
“Instead of losing sleep over it, I’m going to just let go and let it be. I need to let time happen,” says Wiedenfeld. “In a weird way, we were almost married to the timeline.” 
Before the second transfer can begin, there’s a glitch. Thornton discovers that the embryo he was expecting to use hadn’t grown properly. Fortunately, two frozen embryos remain, and after a three-hour delay for thawing, one is implanted in Fenn.
Despite the emotional setback, “I’m feeling fantastic,” says Fenn. “We’re looking positive.” They all head home.
Staying hopeful
Having gone through one miscarriage, Wiedenfeld and Johnson, who are 39 and 46, respectively, did not want to get their hopes up again.
As many people desperate for a baby can tell you, desire and hope and prayers and healthy living and the best that medical science has to offer sometimes just don’t work.
Not long after the second embryo was implanted in Fenn, she discovers that her hCG levels — an indicator of pregnancy — aren’t rising. The embryo isn’t growing. The second try has failed.
It is an emotionally exhausting outcome, but there is still hope. After all, one embryo remains and Fenn, in her usual optimistic way, is ready for one more transfer, scheduled for the middle of September. And maybe, just maybe, not long after that, two men eager to start a family will finally have a baby of their own. 

The Washington Post

July 23, 2018

The Battle For Gay Rights In Israel is For Parenthood Not Marriage and The Community is At an Uproar

Protestors blocking a road during an LGBT protest in Be'er Sheba, July 22, 2018.

Thousands of Israelis walked out of their workplaces and took to the streets Sunday, to protest the government’s denial of gay men’s rights to have children through surrogacy.
The protest over the legislation highlights how in a country where marriage is governed by religious authorities, parenthood is seen as the key to equality.
The new legislation loosened surrogacy regulations in Israel, giving single women and women unable to become pregnant for medical reasons the right to apply for state support for surrogacy. However, an additional clause that would have granted the same rights to single fathers – and, by extension, gay couples – was nixed.
What sparked the protest?
Last Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stunned and infuriated the LGBT community with a dramatic flip-flop on a commitment that would legalize supporting surrogate births for single people in Israel. Netanyahu promised, but then withdrew, his support for a clause that would allow single men, as well as women, to access surrogacy.   
Until last week, eligibility for legal surrogacy services in Israel was only available to “a man and woman who are a couple.” The bill brought to the Knesset by the country’s Health Ministry proposed also giving the same right to single women who wished to have children.
All attempts to explicitly make single-sex couples eligible were rejected early on in the legislative process.
The LGBT community rallied behind a widely supported effort to also allow single men – whether heterosexual or homosexual – to be allowed to father children using a surrogate under the new law. Early last week, the prime minister pledged he would back such a change, even making a video declaring his support. 
But at the last minute he reversed his position in the face of opposition from ultra-Orthodox (or Haredi) parties, who threatened to withhold their support for the Jewish nation-state bill – a top priority for Netanyahu – and threatened the stability of his governing coalition.
Netanyahu defended his decision, saying he did so in order not to derail the entire bill and deprive single women from accessing the right to surrogates. He promised that if a separate bill extending rights to men was proposed, he would support it.
Wait, didn’t Israel just have a massive Gay Pride Month? Is it LGBT-friendly or not?
Israel has made tremendous inroads when it comes to public acceptance of LGBT lifestyles in recent decades. Homosexuality is not only accepted in liberal left-wing circles, but a leading member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, MK Amir Ohana, is also openly gay. In fact, it was Ohana who proposed the clause on the Health Ministry’s bill that would allow for the inclusion of single men. 
Tel Aviv in particular has a thriving LGBT culture: it was recently named the world’s leading gay travel destination.
Openly gay and lesbian individuals can also be found in leading roles in the business community – hence the unusually high levels of corporate support for Sunday’s protest, particularly in the high-tech community.
For a time, Israel led the way among Western nations when it came to legally establishing equality for gay partners on financial rights, particularly the Tel Aviv Municipality. The Israeli army has also pioneered the creation of guidelines for both gay and transgender soldiers, due to the fact that the country’s universal draft brings these populations into the military at a far higher rate than armies that rely solely on volunteers.
But when it comes to matters of personal and family status, the LGBT community hits a glass ceiling: All matters of marriage, divorce and the status of children are either completely controlled or heavily influenced by the ultra-Orthodox parties, who push back against any legislation condoning homosexuality – which in their eyes contravenes Jewish law.
There’s no same-sex marriage in Israel. Why is this anger over surrogacy and not marriage rights?
The inability of gay couples to legally marry in Israel is indeed frustrating and infuriating for the growing number of same-sex couples, who must marry abroad for their status to be officially recognized in Israel or hold alternative ceremonies in Israel that don’t carry legal weight. The idea of legalizing same-sex marriage enjoys widespread public support
But in this struggle, the LGBT community understands that its problem is part of a much larger issue: There are many groups who are unable to legally marry in Israel due to the absence of any form of civil marriage.
Because of the stranglehold of the Orthodox Chief Rabbinate in Israel on marriage, there is no framework that allows two individuals of different religions to legally marry. Furthermore, Jewish citizens are often required to go through agonizing efforts to “prove” their Jewishness before the state will agree to marry them as Jews.
Within the Jewish population, there are other groups forbidden to marry, such as divorced women who wish to wed a Cohen (people with the surname Cohen are descendants of the priests on the Temple 2,000 years ago, according to Jewish tradition), or those who are considered mamzers (certain illegitimate children under Jewish religious law).
Repeated efforts to introduce legislation that would establish civil marriage have failed. So LGBT couples are not alone in their fight for marriage equality. And like the other groups who are discriminated against in marriage, their weddings abroad are legal: they have been recognized as such since 2006.
However, when it comes to having children – in both the case of adoption and now in surrogacy – the LGBT community is the sole target of what it views as a violation of a basic right.
What makes this protest uniquely Israeli?
Whether it is embedded in Jewish DNA or the scars of losses in the Holocaust, Israel is an unusually child-centric country, with a culture and social norms that emphasize and revolve heavily around family life. 
This is borne out in the country’s fertility rates. Israel is an outlier in the Western world when it comes to the number of children per family: Its rate of fertility has been rising, not falling.
Even when one excludes the two populations with the largest families – the ultra-Orthodox and Arab communities – the Jewish state stands out compared to the rest of the developed world when it comes to its enthusiasm for being fruitful and multiplying.
Since the establishment of the state 70 years ago, Israeli government policies have been explicitly pro-family. In recent years, this has been evident in the accessibility and affordability of IVF for couples and single women facing infertility issues. Fertility treatments take place in Israel at 13 times the level of the United States on a per-capita basis.
In Israeli society, bearing and raising children is viewed as a basic right. And LGBT culture has been singled out for how central a role child-rearing has played in it.
Part of the success in penetrating the Israeli cultural mainstream has been that, for the most part, gay men and lesbians have been deeply interested in settling down and establishing families. Over the past decade, Israel has seen a baby boom among both gay men and lesbians. But due to biology, only gay men have been forced to invest tens of thousands of dollars and face years of bureaucratic hurdles in the efforts to realize their dream of becoming fathers.

May 4, 2018

Italy Has Taken A Great Step Forward for LGBT Parental Rights

 (AF*File pic) A Gay Couple in Dublin

Although Italy may be the international capital for art, it isn’t anywhere close to being the international capital for ART law. That is, assisted reproductive technology (ART). Use of assisted reproductive technology like in vitro fertilization (IVF) and surrogacy is highly regulated, and it is reserved only for those in “stable heterosexual relationships.” I’m not sure many of […]

Although Italy may be the international capital for art, it isn’t anywhere close to being the international capital for ART law. That is, assisted reproductive technology (ART). Use of assisted reproductive technology like in vitro fertilization (IVF) and surrogacy is highly regulated, and it is reserved only for those in “stable heterosexual relationships.” I’m not sure many of us, regardless of sexual orientation, can confidently claim that status.

In any event, despite the typical Italian skepticism toward ART, last week there was news that a same-sex female couple was permitted to register their donor-conceived son to both women as parents. This was an exciting first!

The backstory, like many stories in this area, involves a lot of hard work and legal hurdles. In this case, Chiara Foglietta and Micaela Ghisleni wanted to start a family together. As Italian citizens, they are unable to legally marry in their home country. Since 2016, however, Italy has at least allowed couples like Figlietta and Ghisleni to register as civil partners. Nevertheless, Italian law still prohibits them from utilizing assisted reproductive technology procedures, such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) or IVF with the use of donor sperm. Of course, as a same-sex couple, they had plenty of eggs and even an extra uterus between them. But they lacked for that one essential element.

Undeterred, the couple traveled to Denmark, where sperm donation is permitted. There, the couple was able to successfully get pregnant. On April 13, 2018, Foglietta and Ghislain's baby boy, Niccolo Pietro was born.

Foglietta—who also happens to be an elected public official in Turin—was initially advised that she ought to say that her child was conceived through sex with a man, in order for Italy to recognize her as the mother of the child. And although checking the box is the white lie that many Italian couples take when using assisted reproductive technology (either gay, heterosexual but unstably coupled, or using donor gametes), Foglietta refused. She said “I need to make this stand not for me, but for Niccolò, for all Rainbow children, for families who do not have the same strength to face these battles, for the children of single women and those with partners who have chosen medically assisted procreation with external donors and want to tell the truth,” she said.

Fortunately, Turin’s mayor, Chiara Appendino, joined the new parents in their political stand, and personally signed the birth certificates. In fact, not only did the mayor sign the birth certificate of baby Niccolo, recognizing both Foglietta and Ghisleni as his parents, she also signed three other birth certificates — one for a similarly situated same-sex female couple with a son, and two others for twin boys with two fathers. On Twitter, Appendino wrote: “Today is one of the days when every drop of energy put into politics feels worth it.” 

Italian attorney Alexander Schuster explained, “We made arguments that eventually persuaded a mayor (who in Italy is equivalent to a US registrar for establishing parentage on a birth certificate). However, we are truly diving into unchartered waters. I am confident we are entitled to judicial backing: if a cohabiting man consents to insemination, he is a legal parent. This ought to also be true if the partner is a woman. Denying the same protection to the child is outright discrimination.”

Birth certificate law in the US is also complicated. As everyone knows, the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in Obergefell means that same same-sex marriage is legal in every US state and territory. Further, last year, the Court clarified in its decision in Pavan that same-sex couples are also entitled to the “constellation of benefits” that comes with marriage. Such as the right to nag your partner to take out the trash. Or, more importantly, for the non-biologically related parent to be recognized as a legal parent when the couple uses the help of assisted reproductive technology.

Of course, there remain some hiccups still. Just last month, the Mississippi Supreme Court had to overturn an intermediate appellate court ruling that an anonymous sperm donor had greater parental rights to a child than the non-biological lesbian mom that raised him. Not great. Similarly, even though a same-sex spouse can automatically go on the birth certificate of a baby in most jurisdictions, that birth certificate (and non-bio mom’s parental rights) are not always immediately recognized by other jurisdictions.

[[Above The Law]]

August 27, 2017

One More Repetition: "Same Sex Parents Wont Sway Kid's Gender Identity"

Same-Sex Parents Won't Sway Kids' Gender Identity

Research showed no differences from children raised by heterosexual couples

MONDAY, Aug. 21, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Same-sex couples are unlikely to influence the gender identity of their adoptive children one way or another, a new study finds.
Starting with preschool, researchers tracked the gender identity development of kids from 106 lesbian, gay or heterosexual families.
"Parental sexual orientation and family type did not affect children's gender conformity or nonconformity in any significant way," said study author Rachel Farr of the University of Kentucky.
At the start of the study, parents filled out questionnaires. The researchers also observed the preschoolers' play and the toys they used. The children were then interviewed five years later.  
The researchers found that in most cases children displayed behavior and play styles commonly associated with their birth gender, and those patterns were established in early childhood.
Family structure was far less associated with gender identity development than the types of play preschoolers engaged in, the researchers said.

 Those few preschoolers who tended to play with toys not usually associated with their birth gender were more likely to buck gender norms as they aged. However, bucking gender norms was not found to be more common among children raised by either gay or lesbian parent.
The findings were published recently in the journal Sex Roles.
"Our results suggest that the gender development of children adopted by both lesbian and gay parents proceeds in typical ways, and is similar to that of children adopted by heterosexual couples," Farr said in a journal news release.
"It, therefore, appears that having both a male and female role model in the home is not necessary for facilitating typical gender development among adopted children," she added, "nor does it discourage gender nonconformity."

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

WebMD News from HealthDay

June 21, 2017

There Still Legal Complications for Gay Parents

At gay pride marches around the country this month, there will be celebrations of marriage, a national right that, at just two years old, feels freshly exuberant to many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.

But while questions of marriage are largely settled, same-sex couples who choose to have children still face a patchwork of laws around the country that define who is and who can be a parent. This introduces a rash of complications about where L.G.B.T.Q. couples may want to live and how they form their families, an array of uncertainties straight couples do not have to think about.

“There are very different laws from state to state in terms of how parents are protected, especially if they’re unmarried,” said Cathy Sakimura, deputy director and family law director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “You can be completely respected and protected as a family in one state and be a complete legal stranger to your children in another. To know that you could drive into another state and not be considered a parent anymore, that’s a pretty terrifying situation.”

Adoption laws, for example, can be extremely contradictory. In some states, like Maryland and Massachusetts, adoption agencies are expressly prohibited from discriminating based on sexual orientation. At the same time, other states, like South Dakota, have laws that create religious exemptions for adoption providers, allowing agencies to refuse to place children in circumstances that violate the groups’ religious beliefs. 

Alan Solano, a state senator in South Dakota, sponsored his state’s adoption legislation. He said he was concerned that if those groups were forced to let certain families adopt, they might get out of the adoption business entirely, shrinking the number of placement agencies in the state.

“I wanted to ensure that we have the greatest number of providers that are working on placing children,” Mr. Solano said. “I’m not coming out and saying that somebody in the L.G.B.T. community should not be eligible for getting a child placed with them. What I hope is that we have organizations out there that are ready and willing to assist them in doing these adoptions.”

But as a practical matter, lawyers who specialize in L.G.B.T.Q. family law says that in some areas, religiously affiliated adoption organizations are the only ones within a reasonable distance. Moreover, they say, such laws harm children who need homes by narrowing the pool of people who can adopt them, and they are discriminatory.

“There is a very serious hurt caused when you’re told, ‘No, we don’t serve your kind here,’ and I think that gets lost in the public discourse a lot,” said Susan Sommer, director of constitutional litigation for Lambda Legal. “There’s just this narrative that absolutely ignores, and almost dehumanizes, L.G.B.T. people. They’re missing from the equation here.”

There are a number of laws that can affect L.G.B.T.Q. families, from restrictions on surrogacy to custody, and the landscape is constantly shifting.

Within a single state, there can be layers of befuddling complexity, with certain rules in place that help gay families and others that restrict them. But even in states that tend to have friendly laws, life is more complicated for gay parents.

Alice Eisenberg and Anna Wolk live in Brooklyn, and they decided together to get pregnant. Ms. Eisenberg carried the child, and Ms. Wolk was an equal partner every step of the way. For legal reasons, the couple was married before their daughter, Olympia Bruce Lavender Wolk was born, and both parents’ names are on the birth certificate. 

Cathy Sakimura, the deputy director and family law director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights. She cautions that “You can be completely respected and protected as a family in one state and be a complete legal stranger to your children in another.” Credit Peter DaSilva for The New York Times
Nonetheless, they are in the middle of doing a second-parent adoption.

The process varies from state to state — some states do not have them at all, instead offering stepparent adoptions — but in New York, the process is lengthy and complicated. Ms. Wolk must be fingerprinted and provide every address where she has lived, down to the month, going back decades. A social worker must do a home visit with the couple. The whole process will cost them about $4,000, they said and could take a year to complete.

“We won marriage, and people thought the fight was over,” Ms. Eisenberg said. “But having to adopt your own child feels way more invasive, upsetting, disturbing.” 

California Today
The news and stories that matter to Californians (and anyone else interested in the state), delivered weekday mornings. The Supreme Court has ruled that an adoption in one state must be honored in another, so even if a nonbiological parent is on the birth certificate — a right that stems from a recognition of the couple’s marriage — L.G.B.T.Q. family law experts strongly recommend an adoption or some kind of judicial decree as the strongest protection.

“It seems both insulting and ridiculous,” said Ms. Sommer of Lambda Legal. “But sadly, the reality is, if you can manage it, you should do it.”

After all, what if something happens to the biological parent, and their family members want custody of the child? While traveling internationally, parental rights that stem from a judicial order are more likely to be respected than rights that come from being married if a country does not recognize your marriage. And if a couple breaks up, lawyers say that without an adoption, the nonbiological parent may have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in court to establish the right to custody.

“We don’t know which policies will continue on,” said Diana M. Adams, who owns an L.G.B.T.Q. family-law firm in New York City. “You’ll always be safer in more-conservative states and more conservative countries if parentage is reliant on an adoption rather than on same-sex marriage.”

For many couples, that uncertainty is the most compelling reason to do a second-parent adoption, to head off problems they cannot foresee.

“We’re still coming from a place of fear about it,” Ms. Wolk said. “I don’t feel like right now we’re going to get into trouble not having completed it, but you never know what’s going to get overturned tomorrow.”

The political climate has made many people especially nervous, lawyers say. Alana Chazan has a family law practice in Los Angeles, and she said that the busiest day of her career was Nov. 9, 2016, the day after Donald J. Trump was elected president.

“I have been telling people for years: Do a second-parent adoption, do a second-parent adoption, do a second-parent adoption,” she said. With the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision in 2015 that made gay marriage legal nationwide, an expansion of parenting laws in California, and a feeling that the country was marching toward acceptance, Ms. Chazan said, many people seemed to think it would not be necessary.

“It was almost as though they thought I was scamming them as a lawyer, that I was just trying to take their money,” she said. “But no. With the election of Trump, a lot of people got that.”

When a second-parent adoption is finally complete, it can be a relief — but Ms. Wolk and Ms. Eisenberg said that when they leave the courthouse with their adoption decree, they have no plans to celebrate.

“I’m not going out to lunch to celebrate this,” Ms. Eisenberg said. “This feels like something, as a movement of queer people, we should be rallying against.”

A version of this article will appear in print on June 25, 2017

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