Change the World

One Gay Dad's Fight Against Hate in Superior, Nebraska

Brian Splater is refusing to let homophobic and transphobic elected officials in his town go unchecked

Millie B. Photography

Guest post written by Brian Splater

No one ever should feel they will have a very lonely and secluded life as a child. But that is something me and many other gay kids believe as they are growing up.

The truth of the matter is there are people who will try everything in their power to have our rights go back in time instead of forward. It is very disheartening when these people are elected officials, or they are people who use their place of employment to spread their disgust and hate.


Moving to a small, rural and red community my husband and I knew there could still be many barriers in our process of wanting to have kids someday. A community of 2,000 is always harder for gay people than a community of 200,000 people. I always have said it is because they lack the education and experiences surrounding the different types of people who exist in this world. Even with this it was not going to prevent us from adopting two beautiful kids.

After being together for five years we decided it was time to adopt a child of our own. Little did we know we would be chosen for an adoption and we would get to adopt two children instead of one. My great-niece and my great-nephew had been in and out of foster care and taken away from their biological parents from the time they were born. Once our children's biological parents had their rights taken away from the state, we knew we had to step in and stop this pattern in their lives.

There are many feelings and emotions that go into bringing in two children into your home. Besides the unknowns that exist, we weren't going to allow the cowardly acts and the homophobic people from preventing this from happening.

It is amazing how two kids can make a difference in your lives. They have taught us what is truly important, never to sweat the small stuff, and never worry about the negativity others wish to shine down on us. They keep us grounded in the present and they make us realize it isn't the monetary or material things that are important, those things will never provide for complete happiness in one's life as two children will. Most importantly, they made us realize we must never hide from who we are as humans.

Being gay dads is an opportunity to stand up to the bullies who believe being gay is unnatural. Or that gays should never be able to adopt. It's an opportunity to be role models for our youth. It's also an opportunity to raise our children against stigma, judgment and other negativity that still lives in our world just because of a person's sexual orientation.

Millie B. Photography

One of the most amazing things about being a gay dad is how it has helped us in being a real strength to our children because we show them how to overcome adversity. It's because people who are gay have experienced enough judgment, abuse and other negativity throughout their lives to know how to educate their children when they witness or come face to face with people being treated unfairly.

All of this is something we still face today. In Superior, a town of just 2,000 people, in south central Nebraska, we have our own mayor and council members who love to sit behind their phones and computer screens and bully other people just because of a person's sexual orientation.

I have always believed that if you don't like policy or if you want change, one should either run for public office or they should join organizations that lobby in their beliefs. I did just that. Back in early 2018 I decided and announced that I would run for Mayor. For months I had been testing these waters. After this I quietly started putting my grass roots campaign together.

Because it took me some time to really come to a final answer if I should run, I missed the deadline to get on the ballot. I registered as a write-in. Once our Mayor, and our council members knew of my candidacy and once they knew the threat I was, the combativeness, hate, lies and the threats began.

I would never have dreamed of the tactics that were bowed to as I ran for Mayor. I had the Mayor have our own police try and intimidate me and my family. She, and council members, had our Utilities Manager, City Planner and our Economic Development Director attack me (from behind the scenes) and spread their imaginative and corrupt images about myself and my family. They also cornered, harassed daily and pushed our Chamber Manager out because of her support for me. Since, they have kicked people off of varying boards who supported me for Mayor.

In the end, just living in Superior for five years, I almost beat an incumbent of 12 years. I almost beat someone who had the last name and the married last name (her husband had been our County Attorney). Add in that I was gay and that we adopted two children, my supporters truly believed we started something good in our City and in our entire area. I had 315 write-ins to her 385 being on the ballot. Out of three Wards, I won Ward I and she only barely won Ward II.

Fast forward and for the past several months we have had Councilmen Disney, Peterson and Flores (who was appointed by this Mayor) continue their attacks against the LGBTQ community. To have these people say the LGBTQ community has a mental illness, that transgender is a made up work, having gays adopt kids is pushing our gay agenda on them, that we should have our plumbing checked out, that it's only political correctness for our equality and so many more of their ignorant statements; none of it will stand in the way of how we live our lives and it won't stand in the way of how we educate our children.

Sadly, all three of these elected officials work for our only hospital in Superior, Brodstone Memorial Hospital. They continue to preach and disperse their hate of gays and the transgender community. They continue to do this because this hospital seems to turn a blind eye and rather not answer an email I sent to the administrator back in March 2019.

For our two beautiful children's sake we will not rest until action is taken against these elected officials, who some are even EMT's

Millie B. Photography

Hate is very real and it is corrosive. A person's ignorance and deep bitterness often turns their hate into a hate crime. Hate breeds and it turns into targeting and violence. It can also cause serious harm and even death to the LGBTQ community.

For us, disarming hate should be on every resident of Superior's mind, not allowing this vicious cycle to continue. Superior is filled with kindness and compassion. It is overwhelmingly filled with residents who are hardworking and who respect one another. Unfortunately, the few can cause so much embarrassment, distress and outright shame for the rest of Superior. And that is happening as we speak.

Superior is better than allowing the likes of Rick Disney (Ward III) and Peterson (Ward I) to corrupt it. Superior is better than allowing a Mayor, who protects these people, and openly says "we must stick together…against these people," in open meetings. Superior is BETTER when they DENY members of management in allowing these homophobic and haters to continue spewing their hate in the hallways of places where the LGBTQ community MUST go for healthcare services and emergencies.

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News

Indiana Court Says Couples Using Sperm Donors​ Can Both Be Listed on Birth Certificate — But Ruling Excludes Male Couples

The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in the case, a major victory for LGBTQ parents — but the Attorney General may appeal to the Supreme Court.

On Friday, a US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling from a lower court that said that both parents in a same-sex relationship are entitled to be listed on the birth certificate — previously, the state of Indiana had required the non-biological parent within a same-sex relationship using assisted reproductive technologies to adopt their child after the birth in order to get her or his name listed on the birth certificate, a lengthy and expensive process not required of straight couples in the same situation.

It's a double standard LGBTQ parents have long been subjected to in many states across the country. So this represent a major win. As reported by CNN, this ruling "takes a lot of weight off" the shoulders of LGBTQ parents, said Karen Celestino-Horseman, a lawyer representing one of the couples in the case. "They've been living as families and wondering if this was going to tear them apart."

The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals deliberated the case, according to CNN, for more than two and a half years, which is one of the longest in the court's history.

However, because all the plaintiffs in the case involved female same-sex couples using sperm donors, the ruling left open the similar question of parenting rights with respect to male couples. Indiana's Attorney General, moreover, may also appeal the case to the Supreme Court.

We'll be following the case closely and be sure to keep you up to date. For more on this recent decision, read CNN's article here.

News

Gay Dads Told One Must Identify as 'Mother' to Enroll in Daycare

The Israeli gay dads told one must identify as mother — like a "normal couple" — in order to receive financial assistance for daycare.

Israeli dads Guy Sadak Shoham and Chai Aviv Shoham were trying to enroll their two-year-old twins in daycare when they were told by a government official that one would need to identify as the "mother" in order to be cleared.

According to Out Magazine, the couple was attempting to apply for financial aid to help pay for the costs of preschool when a government bureaucrat called them to discuss their eligibility.

"I understand that you are both fathers and understand that you both run a shared household, but there is always the one who is more dominant, who is more the mother," the government said, according to an interview on the Israel site Ynet (translated by Out Magazine). "I am just asking for a written statement in your hand which of you is the mother. From the point of view of the work, which works less than the father. Like a normal couple."

The official, apparently, said she was beholden to rules set for in the Ministry of Economy.

"It is mostly sad and a little disturbing," one of the dads told Ynet. "These are concepts that we consider the past. We do not necessarily come up with allegations against this representative, she is ultimately subject to the guidelines and as she said, they are the state. It is also sad that the state's definition of a mother is someone who works less and is at home with the children, and that we must choose which of us meets that definition."

The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, fortunately, issued an apology following the incident, and promised to update its protocols. "We will emphasize that the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs practices explicitly treat all types of families and grant equal rights to all," the ministry wrote in a statement, an apology that was called "insufficient" by Ohad Hizki, the director-general of the National LGBT Task Force.

"The Ministry of Labor and Welfare must sharpen its procedures immediately to prevent recurrence of cases of this kind, as other public organizations have been able to do," he said.

Read more about this story on Out Magazine.

Change the World

'Homosexuality is Wrong' Utah Teacher Tells Boy Who Gave Thanks for His Two Adoptive Dads

The substitute teacher went on to say two men living together is "sinful." She was fired shortly after.

To anyone with a heart, the moment should have done nothing more than bring a tear to the eye. Last week, just before the Thanksgiving break, a substitute teacher in a fifth grade class in Cedar Hills, Utah — just south of Salt Lake City — asked her students to name something they were thankful for this holiday season.

"I'm thankful for finally being adopted by my two dads," said Daniel, one of the boys, when it was his turn.

Rather than grab a tissue to dab her eyes, or ask the classroom to join her in a hearty round of applause to celebrate Daniel finding his forever family, the teacher took it upon herself to impart her personal religious beliefs onto the young boy. "Homosexuality is wrong," the teacher said in front of the class, adding that it was "sinful" for two men to live together.

The teacher, fortunately, was fired from Kelly Services, the substitute staffing company that employed her, quickly after the incident, but the moment is nonetheless receiving widespread attention in the press — no doubt in part because one of the boy's dads, Louis van Amstel of "Dancing With the Stars," posted a video clip to his 76,000 Twitter followers with the title: "Our child was bullied."

"It shouldn't matter if you're gay, straight, bisexual, black and white," he said to the New York Times in a follow up interview. "If you're adopting a child and if that child goes to a public school, that teacher should not share her opinion about what she thinks we do in our private life."

Louis also revealed that the moment may not have come to light were it not for three of his son's classmates, who told the principal about the teacher's bigoted comments. His son, Daniel, didn't want to report the incident for fear of getting the teacher into trouble.

Louis expressed thanks that the staffing company responded as quickly as it did following the incident — and also stressed that his neighbors and community have rallied behind he and his family in the days afterward, offering support. He wanted to dispel stereotypes that Utah, because of its social conservatism and religiosity, was somehow inherently prejudiced.

"It doesn't mean that all of Utah is now bad," he told the Times. "This is one person."

It's also true that this type of prejudice is in no way limited to so-called red states, and incidents like these happen daily. LGBTQ parents and our children are subjected to homophobic and transphobic comments in schools, hospitals, stores, airlines and elsewhere as we simply go about living our lives. These moments so often fly under the radar — many classmates don't have the courage, as they fortunately did in this case, to report wrongdoing. Some administrators are far less responsive than they were here — and most of us don't have 76,000 Twitter followers to help make these moments of homophobia a national story.

All that aside, let's also get back to what should have been nothing more than a heartwarming moment — Daniel, a fifth grade boy, giving thanks to finally being legally adopted into a loving family.

Change the World

Miami Tourism Board Releases Vacation Guide for LGBTQ Families

Miami isn't just about circuit parties! The LGBTQ Family-Friendly Miami Vacation Guide showcases many options for queer parents, too.

As gay people, it can be difficult to find vacation spots that are LGBTQ-friendly out of the normal travel "fruit loop" — New York, Mykonos, San Francisco; repeat. For those of us with kids, the Venn diagram of destinations that are both queer and kid friendly can seem practically non-existent.

Fortunately, that's starting to change as the tourism industry realizes that LGBTQ families are a growing segment of vacationers. One city to quickly pick up on this trend is Miami. While the gays have long flocked to Miami for party weekends, the city has also recently noticed an uptick in the number of LGBTQ visitors who are parents. In response, Miami's tourism board release a guide, LGBTQ Family-Friendly Miami Vacation Guide, that includes loads of options for queer parents and their kids. Amid Miami's legendary circuit parties, it turns out, are tons of family friendly things to do — like the Museum of Science, an eco-adventure theme park, and other kid-focused events all year long.

Who knew?

"When I came onboard as Director of LGBTQ Marketing a little over a year ago, I found that our LGBTQ messaging was centered around our annual events," said Dan Rios, who works with the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau. Massive parties like the White Party and Aqua Girl are a central part of the city's LGBTQ offerings, he said, but he was also worried the city was "developing a reputation solely as a party destination. "I want to diversify that message to highlight everything else that Greater Miami has to offer."

Hence the city's family-friendly guide that includes offerings within "art and culture, dining, beaches, fitness," Dan said. "We have unique and amazing family attractions that we had been promoting to our general audiences for decades. I saw this as an opportunity; an opportunity to introduce our attractions to LGBTQ families, and an opportunity to further promote our attractions -- it was a win-win."

Dan said the Bureau is also in the midst of a campaign that will prominently feature LGBTQ parents within different travel destinations throughout the city, which will be featured throughout both LGBTQ and mainstream websites, publications and advertising.

We applaud the effort to reach out to LGBTQ families, and hope more cities follow Miami's lead! Be sure to check out the guide here.

Gay Dad Life

Gong Hei Fat Choy! Happy Chinese New Year!

As we usher in the year of rat, we asked some of our dads how they honor this special time.

Today we're celebrating, alongside our families, the Chinese New Year! As we usher in the year of rat, we asked some of our dads how they honor this special time, what they do to celebrate, and how they're instilling these traditions in their kids. Here are some of their responses.

Keep reading...
Personal Essays by Gay Dads

As a Gay Dad, What's the Impact of Letting My Son Perform Drag?

Michael Duncan was excited when his 10-year-old son asked if he could perform in drag for charity — but he also felt fear and anxiety.

As LGBT parents, we have all lived through some sort of trauma in our lives. For many it is the rejection of our family, being bullied, or abuse. We learn to be vigilant of our surroundings and often are very cautious of who we trust. As adults, we start to become watchful of how much we share and we look for "red flags" around every corner.

So, what effect does this have on our children? Does it unintentionally cause us to be more jaded with our interactions involving others? For some the answer may be a resounding "no." But as we look deeper into the situation, we often find that through survival our interactions with others have changed and we may not even realize exactly how much we are projecting on those around us.

Keep reading...
Diary of a Newly Out Gay Dad

A Gay Chiropractor Explains Why He Came Out to His Patients

After Cameron Call, a chiropractor, came out to his family this past year, he knew he had one more step to take — he had to come out to his patients

Fear is an interesting thing. It motivates when it shouldn't, shows at inconvenient times, and is the author of stories that do nothing but hold us back. I would argue though, too, that fear has some good qualities. I believe it helps us to feel. And I think it can be a great teacher as we learn to recognize and face it.

For years fear prevented me from embracing my truth and accepting a large part of who I am. I know I am not alone in that regard. But for so long my fear convinced me that I was. Fear is what kept me from ever telling my parents or anyone growing up that I am gay. Fear mingled with strong religious teachings, embraced at a young age, which led me to believe that I could cure myself of my attractions to the same gender. And fear is a part of what kept me in my marriage to a woman for over ten years.

Keep reading...

Fatherhood, the gay way

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