Gay Dad Life

Canada Is Nice

“Canada is nice,” our attorney told us, trying to be helpful. I remember the conversation clearly. My American adventure had come to an end. After J-1 student visas, 18 months of academic training, many years of temporary worker’s visas and even some tourist visa waivers, I had exhausted all my options to stay in my beloved U.S.A. The so-called green card had proven elusive.


I had been in a relationship with Brian for a long time. Had we been an opposite-sex couple, things would have been different. Very few people understood the problem. “Why don’t you two get married? Massachusetts allows same-sex marriage, right?” True, but, unfortunately, immigration is a federal issue. In 2009, the Defense of Marriage Act was still the law of the land: our relationship was not recognized at the federal level. After living in the United States for about 18 years, I had to leave the country.

A few months earlier, we had adopted our son Levi as a newborn. And now our little family, two dads and a baby, had to find a new country to live.

I’m originally from the Netherlands, but didn’t really want to move there. Holland and I have a somewhat complicated relationship. I usually call refer to it as the Netherworld. In our years together, Brian has only acquired a Dutch vocabulary of a dozen words or so. Long story short: Holland was out.

“Canada is nice,” the attorney had told us. We had visited Montreal a few times. Nice, but cold and francophone. Equally urban, but English-speaking and slightly less frigid, Toronto quickly made it to the top of our list. Brian was able to transfer his job; I was going to be the stay-at-home dad. We sold our New York condo, packed up our belongings, said goodbye to our many friends and moved in temporarily with Brian’s parents.

In December 2009, all our paperwork completed, we drove to Canada and moved into our apartment in the heart of Toronto.

We figured we were going to live in Canada for a very long time. When in October 2010 two daughters joined our family, we needed more space. Within months we found a single-family house and traded our crossover Venza for a Sienna minivan. And slowly we made friends, some fellow gay dads we met at the Gay and Lesbian Centre, and quite a few parents of our kids’ friends from daycare and later kindergarten.

Brian and Ferd with their three kids

We felt really welcome in Canada. We all received health insurance after three months; permanent residence came two years later. We were able to go through Canadian immigration and customs as a family.

Whenever we went to the United States, our family was not recognized.

But things were changing. On June 26, 2013, six days after we got married, the Supreme Court struck down a large part of DOMA. Within minutes I received an email from my immigration attorney: “It's been many years but I promised to let you know when immigration benefits would be extended to same sex couples – and the day is finally here! Last we spoke you and your family were happily settled into more civil Canada, but should you have any inclination to come south again, the landscape has been radically altered today, and DOMA is dead.”

Would we move back? I like Canada, but I love the States. I knew that Brian had not fully embraced his new country either. He still uses miles, feet and degrees Fahrenheit; he follows the American news. Our new venture, Gays With Kids, would benefit from a move to the New York City area with its new media connections and networking opportunities. And, very important: Canadian winters are not only severe, but also interminably long; the summer begins by the end of June and is over by the middle of August.

Finally, in January, we made up our minds. We’ll leave behind good friends, and we’ll miss them. Once again, we’ll sell our home, find a neighborhood to live, rent an apartment, get new driver’s licenses, find schools, doctors, a piano teacher, and a taekwondo school. And we need to sign up for Obamacare!

Canada is nice, but this summer we’re moving back to the United States.

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Gay Dad Life

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The Supreme Court agreed to decide whether cities are allowed to exclude tax-funded adoption agencies from foster care systems if they refuse to work with gay couples.

In 2018, city officials in Philadelphia decided to exclude Catholic Social Services, which refuses to work with LGBTQ couples, from participating in its foster-care system. The agency sued, claiming religious discrimination, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit unanimously ruled against the agency, citing the need to comply with nondiscrimination policies.

The case, Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, follows a 2018 Supreme Court decision regarding a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. In that case, the court narrowly ruled that the baker bad been discriminated against, on religious grounds, by the state's civil rights commission. It did not decide the broader issue: whether an entity can be exempt from local non-discrimination ordinances on the basis of religious freedom.

The court — whose ideological center has shifted to the right since the addition of Justice Brett Kavanaugh in fall 2018 — may choose to do so now. Advocates quickly called on the court to consider the potential impact on the more than 400,000 children currently in the foster care system:

"We already have a severe shortage of foster families willing and able to open their hearts and homes to these children," said Leslie Cooper, deputy director of the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project. "Allowing foster care agencies to exclude qualified families based on religious requirements that have nothing to do with the ability to care for a child such as their sexual orientation or faith would make it even worse. We can't afford to have loving families turned away or deterred by the risk of discrimination."

"It is unconscionable to turn away prospective foster and adoptive families because they are LGBTQ, religious minorities, or for any other reason unrelated to their capacity to love and care for children," said HRC President Alphonso David. "We reject the suggestion that taxpayer-funded child welfare services should be allowed to put discrimination over a child's best interest. This case could also have implications for religious refusals that go far beyond child welfare. The Supreme Court must make it clear that freedom of religion does not include using taxpayer funds to further marginalize vulnerable communities."

The court may choose to override a 1990 decision, Employment Division v. Smith, which created the current standard for carving out religious exemptions. In that case, the court ruled that laws that target a specific faith, or express hostility towards certain beliefs, are unconstitutional — but this standard has long been abhorred by religious conservatives, who think it doesn't offer enough protections for religions. If the court does overrule Smith, it could have far-ranging consequences. " As noted on Slate, "it would allow anyone to demand a carve-out from laws that go against their religion, unless those laws are 'narrowly tailored' to serve a 'compelling government interest.'"

The four members of the court's conservative wing — Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh —have all signaled an openness to reconsider Smith. The ruling's fate, then, likely rests in the hands of the court's new swing vote, Chief Justice Roberts.

For more, read the full article on Slate.

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The bill, sponsored by Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, a Democrat, was created in response to a ruling by the Utah Supreme Court this past August that found the ban on gay men unconstitutional.

Gay men have been excluded from legally entering surrogacy contracts due to a provision in the current law that requires medical evidence "that the intended mother is unable to bear a child or is unable to do so without unreasonable risk to her physical or mental health or to the unborn child," Rep. Arent told the Salt Lake Tribune — a requirement that clearly excludes gay male couples.

The state's original surrogacy law dates back to 2005, before same-sex marriage was legalized in the state, which accounts for the gendered language. Though the state's Supreme Court already ruled the provision unconstitutional, Rep Arent further told the Tribute that, "People do not look to Supreme Court opinions to figure out the law, they look to the code and the code should be constitutional."

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If enacted, the bill would have enforced "state law that marriage is between one man and one woman" and restrict "adoption of children by spouses in a marriage ... that consist of one man and one woman."

The bill, which had little chance of success, particularly in Colorado which has trended more progressive over the past several election cycles, was mostly symbolic, according to Sanridrge. "We all know this bill isn't gonna pass in this current left-wing environment," he told Colorado Public Radio. "It's to remind everyone, this is the ultimate way to conceive a child."

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Though the bill had little chance of passage, LGBTQ advocacy groups in the state are taking the threats seriously nonetheless. Daniel Ramos, director of the LGBTQ group One Colorado, told LGBTQ Nation that the bills were an attempt to return Colorado to its "hate status" of the 1990s, adding the aggressiveness of the measures were "a bit surprising."

Fatherhood, the gay way

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