Editorials

In Defense of "Parent's Day"

Every year, as May approaches, many gay dads face a familiar worry: how do you celebrate a day that seems tailor made to remind your children they are different from other families?


Gays are nothing if not resourceful, so of course we make do; we celebrate the day in ways that work for our families. Some of us honor the women who helped make us dads. Others choose to celebrate strong female influences in our children’s life. Still others don’t recognize the holiday at all.

Regardless of how we choose to celebrate (or not) many gay dads will continue to worry about our kids as May rolls around each year---does a celebration of mothers, when our kids often lack a traditional one, make they feel ostracized? Different? Weird?

Gay dads, of course, aren’t the only ones who suffer from this Mother’s Day dread. Anyone who can't easily claim the mantle of "mom"---single dads, step moms, grandparents and caretakers of all varieties---also have reason to worry.

And then, just as Mother’s Day finally passes us by, we flip and reverse the problem the very next month. Lesbians, single moms, and other “non-dads” of the world take their turn wondering how to appropriately honor “Father’s Day” on the third Sunday in June each year.

In the grand scheme of things, anxiety around these holidays are obviously pretty low on the list of concerns facing LGBTQ parents and other nontraditional families. Still, reminders of Mother's and Father's Day are everywhere we turn; they're celebrated in ads on television, in the shops we frequent, and---most problematically for many of us---in our children’s schools.

In progressive enclaves across North America, some schools have already moved to eliminate this problem with an obvious solution: they have created a single day---a "Parent's Day"---to celebrate this year. That way, any and all caretakers in a child's life can be honored with some macaroni art or a popsicle picture frame, without regards to gender.

Of course, there will always be those who balk at measures to mess with tradition. And the idea of abandoning Mother's and Father's Day altogether seem pretty slim. Still, these holidays were created decades ago when the American family looked very different than it does today. In the 1970s, 76% of children in the United States lived in households with heterosexual parents still in their first marriage, according to Pew Research. Today? Fewer than half do.

Nontraditional families are quickly becoming more of the norm than the exception. Doesn't it make sense to re-imagine these celebrations so that they more fully match the needs of the modern family?

Interestingly enough: Parent's Day is already a federally recognized holiday in the United States. This seemingly perfect solution to our problem was brought to us, moreover, from a very unlikely source. In 1994, former Senator Trent Lott, a rightwing conservative, introduced a bill to create the holiday on the fourth Sunday of July each year as a way to emphasize the importance of “traditional” childrearing by both a mother and a father.

But the gender-neutral "Parent's Day" he created would be easy enough for nontraditional families to co-opt. And what a better way to stick it to Lott, a man who once said homosexuality was akin to alcoholism, kleptomania and sex addiction, than to steal the holiday he created to subjugate us?

Of course, it would be delusional to think American families will suddenly drop their favorite Hallmark holidays in favor of a single day to honor parents of any and all genders---We're unlike to see a "Parent's Day" sale at Macy's anytime soon. But with time, as nontraditional families continue to grow, maybe the gender-neutral holiday will gain in favor.

So what do you say...have you done your Parent's Day shopping this year?

 

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Change the World

Federal Judge Rules Against Adoption Agency's Attempt to Discriminate Against LGBTQ Parents

Many challenges to LGBTQ adoption continue to exist, however, including a Federal amendment that would grant tax-funded adoption agencies the right to discriminate nationally.

This week brought us some much-needed good news in the fight to protect LGBTQ adoption rights: U.S. District Judge Petrese B. Tucker ruled that Catholic Services Society (CSS) violated the city of Philadelphia's Fair Practice Ordinance due to the organization's refusal to work with prospective parents' based on no other reason than their sexual orientation.

The decision is the result of a suit brought by CSS against Philadelphia. Last May, the city announced it was suspending foster care placements with two agencies, CSS and Bethany Christian Services, given their refusal to place children with LGBTQ prospective parents. While Bethany Christian Services ultimately agreed to stop discriminating against same-sex parents, CSS sued the city instead, and lost.

Judge Tucker found that no "substantial burden" existed on on CSS's religious exercise in providing foster care to children, writing that, "In essence, if CSS provides its services consistent with the minimal requirements of the all-comers provisions of the Fair Practices Ordinance, then CSS may continue to provide foster care to children.

Elsewhere around the country, however, the news on LGBTQ adoption rights has been much less encouraging. Over the course of the year, news hasn't been great for the LGBTQ community's adoption rights. Over the course of the year, a slew of anti-LGBTQ adoption measures have been cropping up in state legislatures all across the country. At the federal level this month, Republicans passed an amendment to an appropriations bill that if enacted will allow tax-funded adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ adoptive parents on the grounds of religious freedom.

Get Involved!

Want to take action? Look up your federal representatives here and demand they reject the inclusion of the anti-LGBTQ amendment in the appropriations bill passed by Republicans earlier this week.

Have you experienced discrimination as a potential gay adoptive or foster parent? We want to hear about it. Contact us at dads@gayswithkids.com and tell us about your experience.

And stay tuned to Gays With Kids as we continue to monitor and report on developments in anti-discrimination protections for adoptive LGBTQ parents, on both the state and federal level.

Change the World

Lawmakers in South Carolina Target LGBTQ Parents

A provision, hidden in a 500-page appropriations bill, is part of a troubling trend of state-sanctioned discrimination against prospective LGBTQ parents

This month, politicians in South Carolina inserted a provision into a 500-page appropriations bill that would allow adoption agencies that receive taxpayer money to prevent placement of a child in any home if employees have a "sincerely-held religious belief or moral conviction."

Though the wording doesn't mention the LGBTQ community by name, one need only read between the lines to know the purpose of this discriminatory provision is aimed squarely at our queer little foreheads; If passed, South Carolina will become the 10th state in the country to successfully carve out so-called "religious freedom" exemptions in adoption laws that are unjustly used to prevent placing children in loving and capable LGBTQ-headed households.

Beyond the troubling trend in state-sanction discrimination against LGBTQ parents, it's remarkable that state lawmakers are seeking to shrink the pool of prospective adoptive parents, particularly when there are an estimated 4,000 children in South Carolina in need of homes.

"This hastily added provision does nothing to improve the outcomes for children in care, but only shrinks the pool of prospective parents in a blatant attempt to discriminate against LGBTQ South Carolinians," Marty Rouse, National Field Director of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement. "It's not too late for [Gov. Henry McMaster] to fix the state legislature's mistake and veto this dangerous measure."

The language of the provision is so broad, it could potentially be used to discriminate against anyone an adoption agency deems unfit for parenthood, such as non-Christian couples and single parents.

If you live in South Carolina, contact Governor McMaster now and demand he veto the anti-LGBTQ adoption provision within the appropriations bill.

Change the World

Gay Dads March For Our Lives

Gay dads around the country took the streets yesterday in rallies across the country to demand sensible gun control laws.

Gun control is an LGBTQ issue. Don't think of it that way? You should start.

According to the FBI, LGBTQ individuals and our families are more frequently the targets of hate crimes than any other minority group. More than 20 percent of victims of gun violence, in fact, identify as LGBTQ – people of color and transgender individuals make up the bulk of this grim figure.

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Coming Out

My Gay Shame Is Officially Cancelled

After years of feeling ashamed of being gay, David Blacker has finally overcome it. And his son had a lot to do with it.

Scrolling through my social media feeds, reading all the posts about National Coming Out Day reminds me just how valuable it is for us to share our stories and be as open, vulnerable and authentic as possible. Warning: this article is about to get real AF, so now might be a good time to switch back to the Face-Aging app that gives Russia all your personal data.

Oh good, you stayed. Don't say I didn't warn you.

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Today is National Coming Out Day, and as we celebrate, we're sharing six coming out stories from dads in our community. Their personal stories are heartwarming, relatable, and empowering. Happy Coming Out Day, and remember, live your truth!

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Growing a Thicker Skin

Experiencing hateful and hurtful comments, Erik Alexander had to learn an important lesson: how to ignore the trolls.

Photo credit: BSA Photography

Twenty years ago when I came out, it was unbearably hard. As I have written before, I am from the Deep South. Anyone who dared to deviate from social norms was sure to be ostracized. It's not that these people were born hateful or mean; rather, it probably had more to do with them not being subjected to other lifestyles. Anything different from their own experiences sparked fear and confusion. Homosexuality, interracial relationships, religious differences – these were all unfamiliar territories to the average person I grew up around. Thus, growing up was particularly difficult.

I remember lying in bed at night when I was a little boy. I would pray and beg God to not let me be gay. Every single night I would end my prayers with "... and God, please don't let me have nightmares and please don't let me be gay." I remember crying myself to sleep many nights. I was embarrassed and ashamed. And I wanted God to cure me.

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Change the World

10 Inspiring Coming Out Stories From Gay Dads

Happy National Coming Out Day! To celebrate, we've rounded up some of our recent stories about gay men with kids coming out to live their most authentic lives.

Happy National Coming Out Day! To celebrate, we've rounded up some of our best articles of gay dads coming out to live their authentic lives.

#1. Former NFL Player Jeff Rohrer, and Father of Two, Comes Out as Gay and Marries Longterm Partner


Jeff Rohrer, a father of two teenage boys via a previous relationship with a woman, is the first NFL player to marry another man. Read the article here.

#2. Coming Out to His Wife Was Painful, Says This Salt Lake-Based Dad of Four. But it Started Him on a Path of Authenticity

After Kyle came out to his wife, with whom he has four children, "she listened, she mourned and she loved," he said. Read the article here.

#3. Gay Dads Share Their Coming Out Stories for National Coming Out Day

We asked several gay dads to share their coming out stories in honor of National Coming Out Day, whose stories are heartwarming, instructive, and everything in between. Read the article here.

#4. Gay Muslim Single Dad Writes Op Ed on His Path to Self Acceptance

Maivon Wahid writes about the challenges of reconciling three separate, but equally important, identities in an opinion piece for Gay Star News. Read the article here.

#5. One Gay Dad's Path Towards Realizing Being Gay and Christian are Not Mutually Exclusive

Gay dads Matt and David Clark-Sally talk about coming out, parenting as gay men, and reconciling faith and sexuality. Read the article here.

#6. Republican Utah Lawmaker, and Dad of Two, Comes Out as Gay in Moving Video

Nathan Ivie has many important identities he's proud of: Mormon, Republican, Utahn, father of two... and gay. Read the article here.

#7. How Coming Out Helped This Gay Man Find the Strength to Be a Dad

Steven Kerr shares the moment he came out to his ex-girlfriend. "From that moment on," he writes, "my strength and purpose have grown." Read the article here.

#8. Ed Smart, Father of Kidnapping Victim Elizabeth Smart, Comes Out as Gay

In coming his coming out letter, Ed Smart, a Mormon, condemned the church for their "ridicule, shunning, rejection and outright humiliation" of LGBTQ individuals. Read the article here.

#9. The Best Part of Coming Out, Says This Gay Dad, Is Being an Out and Proud Role Model for His Daughter

"I couldn't face myself in the mirror and think that I could be a good dad and role model for my child when I was lying to myself every moment of every day," said Nate Wormington of his decision to come out. Read the article here.

#10. These Gay Dads Via Previous Marriages Have Adopted a Motto Since Coming Out and Finding Each Other: "United We Stand"

Vincent and Richard both had children in previous marriages with women; together, with their ex-wives, they are helping raise seven beautiful kids. Read the article here.

Fatherhood, the gay way

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