Gay Dad Life

Lake Tahoe: Whizzing Through A Winter Wonderland

I remember my beginnings on skis well — mainly because I was not on them so much as my butt. But a good yard-sale (a crash so thorough that skis, poles, gloves, hats, and maybe a jacket go flying) is the mark of passage of any never-ever (ski lingo for a first-timer), and I got to do it all over again when I took on snowboarding. Luckily, I did all of that on the East Coast, so I could totally pull off my “Mr. Slick” routine at Lake Tahoe and no one would be the wiser.

Big Blue

Now that the rest of your year is carved up into reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic, making count what little quality time winter affords for you as a family takes planning so meticulous you many just want to head for the hills. So why not do just that?

Photo courtesy of Northstar

An electric sapphire set in the emeralds of the Sierra Nevada’s ponderosa pine forests, the Arthurian beauty of Lake Tahoe is outdone only by its magical ability to whack out perfect powder every year. So reliable are the snows that if Lake Tahoe’s resorts have any downside, it is that their kid-friendly pursuits tend to get trampled by hoards of rampaging snow bunnies. Pay close attention and you’ll notice some particularly small skis carve a good chunk of the tracks.

Star Bright

Not that its reputation as the winter habitat for the rich, famous and plastered isn’t well earned. But unless you favor après-ski over the slopes, you can barrel through a week at any number of Tahoe resorts and be as chaste coming out as you were going in. (But if you are slope dopes, slat rats, or even forest fairies — all nicknames for skiers — with kids in tow, focusing on the North Shore over the glitzy, casino-laden south makes life easy.)

Ski school, photo courtesy of Northstar

And if you or your and-baby-makes-three are new to shredding, bonking, death cookies, and a dozen or so other terms you will have to get your head around, Northstar does indeed make life easy. For one, it is remarkably “for kids,” with both skiing and snowboarding classes for newbies. For two, it is remarkably “multitask-y.”

The Village at Northstar not only serves as base camp for its own slopes, but also for other resorts, such as the Ritz-Carlton, further up; parents have a veritable grab-bag of runs and rooms to call their own. It also makes the Village something of a self-sustaining city-state and a nexus of activity — when everybody has had one bono (hitting a tree at full-speed) or ass-pass (falling on your rear while going so fast you don’t stop) too many, the central ice skating rink can keep the young-uns busy while the dads cozy up to the sidelines with a glass of wine. And maybe an aspirin.

Northstar Village

Faster, Higher, Stronger

But for all of you hunting for cachet, you cannot beat the street cred of next-door neighbor Squaw Valley; when you are getting your ski-legs on the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics, you are in the presence of the mighty. It’s been a veritable galaxy of star power ever since; the whole geologic feature it is in, also called Squaw Valley, goes by “Squallywood.”

But even Olympic legends started out as tiny tales. Under the tutelage of true kung-fu masters of ripping, carving, and shredding, the Teaching Tykes program starts off beginners — of all ages — on kinder, gentler slopes ... and leave the screaming velocity of the 5-diamond pistes for another day. Or never!

1960 Winter Olympic Games poster

Or maybe you just like things flat. Planners clearly had crowd control in mind with Squaw Valley, since the Village at Squaw Valley is virtually devoid of grand-scale sporting venues — they are all at the summit. With the distant indigo of Lake Tahoe sparkling to the south, and the Olympic Rings overhead, Squaw Valley’s High Camp revolves around the skating rink where American David Jenkins performed a flawless triple axel 23 years before another skater landed one in competition — a feat celebrated not only for its history-making caliber, but also because he pulled it off 8,200 ft. above sea level.

So while you and your kids shake off the altitude sickness (not exaggerating), enjoy the attractions that have nothing to do with snow. The tram ride up affords a view downright unearthly, and dotted with rock formations such as “the Walrus” and “Clifford” of red-fur fame. The mountain-top museum preserves the actual podiums the medal winners stood on, flags of countries that no longer exist (including the Union of Soviet whatsits), and shows just what a spectacle the Olympics now are: only 30 nations competed in 1960.

Like Northstar, Squaw Valley is open all year; when the skis are packed away, the mountain bikes are dusted off (Lake Tahoe is nothing if not outdoorsy). Unlike Northstar, there is a good chance you will see “somebody” at Squaw. I took a summertime outdoor yoga class and ended up next to Robert De Niro.

Lake Tahoe: Home of the 1960 Winter Olympics

The Biggest Little City

Depending on flight times and weather conditions, spending a night across state lines in Reno has its plusses (and the airport). However, while they are clearly the most conspicuous of the cityscape, Reno’s casinos are, like most, not for the Shopkins crowd — even the deceptively named Circus Circus.

That might be why the conscientious creators of the Whitney Peak Hotel switched out slots and leggy cocktail waitresses for climbing walls and tightropes. Dead-center in Reno but as athletic-minded as anything in the mountains, the Whitney takes up your little Olympians-in-the-making where the slopes left off, all while eschewing gambling of any sort. For the more the little mind more cerebral, the National Automobile Museum and the kid-friendly science experiments at the Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum provide distraction.

Between them and the ski runs, your charges will be tuckered out just in time for that red-eye back home.

Northstar Kid's Club


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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.

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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."

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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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