Editorials

Gay Dad Sues After Months of Attacks on Family

He has allegedly been assaulted, called "f***ing queer," suffered death threats against his son, and had his house burned down. And now he's fighting back


Last week, a gay man from Oklahoma named Randy Gamel-Medler filed a federal lawsuit against nine people from Blaine County, including the Mayor of Hitchcock and the County Sheriff. According to Gamel-Medler, he, his partner, and his son have suffered months of harassment on account of his sexuality and his son's race. (Gamel-Medler and his partner are white, while his son is African American.) Their repeated pleas to local police and government officials fell on deaf ears, according to the lawsuit.

"When our family moved to the town of Hitchcock in rural Oklahoma we thought we were buying our last house, we wanted to know our neighbors by their first names and grow old together, but we were soon met with hatred, suspicion, and discrimination," Randy Gamel-Medler said in a statement. "We were terrorized, murder threats were made against our seven year-old African-American son."

Gamel-Medler, who serves as Town Clerk, maintains that officials conspired to run him out of office through a concerted campaign to ignore his pleas for help.

On May 28, Gamel-Medler heard glass breaking in his garage and called to report a burglary. Once we saw fire, he called the fire department. He claims that several of the defendants in the lawsuit, including Hitchcock Mayor Rick Edsall, sat in lawn chairs and watched as the house burned down. The fire department, located just one block away, didn't arrive on the scene until Gamel-Medler's house had burned down—completely.

"We must not forget that after years of progress, crimes of bias still exist. The allegations in Hitchcock are horrific, and show the intersection of hate aimed at the both the African-American and LGBTQ Communities. Freedom Oklahoma stands with all victims of bias, and will work vigilantly to ensure the state of Oklahoma passes Bias-Crime Protections for all Oklahomans," said Freedom Oklahoma Executive Director Troy Stevenson in a statement.

Town officials, for their part, deny any wrongdoing. Blaine County Undersheriff David Robertson, who is one of the nine defendents, told the Associated Press that they "don't take too kindly to being called racist and homophobic, because we're not." He continued, saying he "cannot find one person who made any racist statements against his child or against him for being a homosexual."

"We lost everything from 27 years," said Gamel-Medler, who has since moved to El Paso, Texas. "Everything that we had is gone."

Gays With Kids will be following this story as it develops, and will be sure to keep our readers posted.

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Editorials

Disney's 'Mom Panel' Includes... Dads?

Why does Disney insist on the gendering of its parenting experts?

This week, Disney released the names of 14 lucky individuals, selected from over 10,000 applicants, to serve as members of the "Disney Parks Mom's Panel." The lucky winners will get the opportunity to serve as public facing "Disney experts" over the course of the next year.

At first glance, this seems an easy opportunity for dads to yet again cry foul — why must everything related to parenting be so gendered? Aren't dads just as capable of being Disney experts? Aren't we all trying to dismantle the patriarchy, and entice dads to be more involved in the rearing of children? Haven't we moved beyond the "kid tested, mother approved" advertising tropes of the pre-1990s?

Are only moms qualified for the sacred opportunity to ascend to a leadership position within the Happiest Place on Earth?

But, as it turns outs, three of panelists selected are in fact dads. So... why not rename the damn thing, Disney? Is calling the group something like a "Parents Panel" so far fetched? Not only would such a name stop reinforcing outdated gender norms as they relate to parenting — but the double "P" also gives the name a nice alliteration, no?

Yes, I'm picking on Disney a bit unnecessarily. So let me get one thing straight: we gays love Disney. And so do our kids. Over the years, we've brought you many pro-LGBTQ Disney stories that celebrates our love for one another, like this one featuring two gay dads, both employees of Disneyland, who are raising their kids with the magical kingdom at their doorstep. And this one, featuring a couple who became convinced to become dads after a visit to Disney World.

And Disney has in many ways been ahead of the curve when it comes to LGBTQ rights. Despite heavy pushback from conservative groups like One Million Moms, Disney decided to host its first official LGBTQ pride event this year — giving the mouse seal of approval to the unofficial "Gay Dads" event, which had been held annually since the early 1990s. The Disney organization has also offered health benefits to the partners of gay employees since 1995.

It's precisely because of the company's progressive stance towards the LGBTQ community that makes its continued emphasis on gendered parenting terms so confusing.

Dads can be Disney dorks too, dammit! Now it's your turn to try alliteration, Disney. Say it with me: "Parenting Panel"

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.

News

What's it Like to Be a Child of the 'Gayby Boom'?

Tosca Langbert, who grew up with two dads, writes a piece for the Harvard Business Review about what it's like being among the first children of the "Gayby Boom" to come of age.

We've previously written about the pressure on LGBTQ parents to appear perfect, given that so many in the United States still feel out families shouldn't exist in the first place. And we know this pressure trickles down to our kids. But In an article for the Harvard Business Review titled 'The Gayby Boom Is Here to Stay," author Tosca Langbert eloquently writes, from her perspective, about the experience of beingone of the first children to come of age during an era when LGBTQ parenthood is far more commonplace. She and her two siblings, she notes, "were raised in a family that was an impossibility only decades ago."

In the article, Langbert said she knew from a young age that her family was different from those of most of her peers, who had one a father and a mother. But otherwise, she writes, she didn't feel like her family differed much. "Like any other parents, Dad sat in the carpool lane after school and taught us how to ride our bikes," she writes, "while Papa took us to the movies on the weekends and separated the whites from the colors."

Despite this mundanity, her family remained something to marvel at for much of her youth. When the family moved into a new neighborhood in 2006, it made the local newspaper, with a headline titled, "Gay Father Tests Tolerance in the Park Cities."

She and her siblings have spent much of their lives, she explained further, having to respond to the question: what's it like having two gay dads? For Langbert, there is only one correct response, which is: Amazing! "Any other response, even if simply accounting for a family's nuanced experience, might as well be an outright admission of failure on behalf of the entire LGBTQ community," she wrote.

Children of the 'Gayby Generation,' are also put in the position of having to come out on behalf of their parents, and "often with mixed results," she wrote. She gave the following anecdote as an example:

"My father was asked to step down from his leadership position in my brother's Boy Scout troop on account of his sexuality. Even though my siblings and I were only fourth graders at the time, we understood that our family was under strict scrutiny, and that even the slightest misstep could beget severe consequences for how competent our fathers were perceived as being. In the face of this pressure, the first generation of 'gaybies' recognized the importance of presenting their families as perfect; doing otherwise would only present ammunition to those already dubious about the rights of LGBTQ parents to raise children."

The entire article, which includes the perspectives of multiple now-grown kids that are part of the "Gayby generation," is well worth a read, which you can access here.


Politics

Utah Bill Would Allow Gay Men to Enter Surrogacy Contracts

Rep. Patrice Arent of Utah is sponsoring a bill that will remove a provision that currently prohibits gay men from entering into commercial surrogacy contracts in the state.

Though Utah is not one of the three states that currently prohibit commercial surrogacy contracts, the state's current policy does specifically exclude gay men from doing so. That may soon changed, however, thanks to a bill in the state's legislature that was unanimously voted out of a House Committee that would remove that restriction.

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."

Politics

Colorado Republicans Try and Fail to Outlaw LGBTQ Marriage and Adoption Rights

A bill introduced by four Republican state legislators in Colorado that would outlaw same-sex marriage and adoption rights was voted down.

The "Colorado Natural Marriage and Adoption Act," which would have outlawed gay marriage and adoption in the state of Colorado, was voted down in the state legislature this week. The bill was sponsored by Republican Rep. Stephen Humphrey and three of his conservative colleagues: Dave Williams, Shane Sandridge and Mark Baisley.

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."

In a sign of how far we've come on the issue of LGBTQ marriage and parenting rights, most Republican legislators in the state did not endorse the bill.

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."

Surrogacy for Gay Men

Dads Talk About Surrogacy Process in New Video for Northwest Surrogacy Center

The Northwest Surrogacy Center interviewed some of their gay dad clients for a video to celebrate their 25th anniversary of creating families through surrogacy!

Image: NWSC Clients

Last year, Northwest Surrogacy Center celebrated 25 years of helping parents realize their dreams. And they celebrated in style by inviting the families they've worked with over the past two and a half decades to join them!

At the party, they took the opportunity to film queer dads and dads-to-be, asking them a couple of questions: how did it feel holding your baby for the first time, and tell us about your relationship with your surrogate.

Watch the video below and get ready for the water works!

Keep reading...

Fatherhood, the gay way

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