Change the World

LGBTQ Organizations, Gay Rights Veterans and a Gay Dad are Leading the Fight for Gun Control

For several years now, John Feinblatt (photo above) has helmed the largest gun control group in the country, Everytown for Gun Safety. Even in his line of work, which involves fighting alongside people who have been victims, or are related to victims, of unspeakable gun violence, Feinblatt was deeply shaken by the events that unfolded at Pulse nightclub in Orlando on June 12 of this year:


“I’m a gay dad,” he wrote in a recent op-ed published in The Advocate. “So for me and my husband, Orlando was personal.”

Feinblatt, however, has been fighting for sensible gun control policies since well before Orlando. And he has done so alongside other prominent LGBTQ organizations, such as the National LGBTQ Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality, and gay rights organizers, such as Zach Silk, Matt McTighe and Mark Glaze – all veterans of the marriage equality movement who have since moved on to the issue of gun control.

Taking a page out of the successful state-by-state strategy of the marriage equality movement, LGBTQ advocates have helped gun control advocates bring about some small, but notable, successes; a handful of states have passed new gun controls laws in recent years that mandate increased background checks and ban assault weapons.

You might be forgiven for wondering: Orlando aside, why have so many LGBTQ advocates taken up the issue of gun control? Don’t we have enough to worry about – passing anti-discrimination policies and protecting transgender rights to name just a couple – without focusing our limited time and resources on seemingly extraneous issues?

Statistics, unfortunately, provide a stark justification: 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, moreover, make up the bulk of this grim figure.

Fighting to end gun violence in the United States, in other words, has long been a gay rights issue; it’s been affecting our families for generations. Orlando is simply the latest, the largest, and the most gut-wrenching example of the impact of gun violence on LGBTQ people.

To be sure, the sheer scale of the attack in Orlando has galvanized our community with gusto unmatched in our previous activism on the issue. In the aftermath of the shooting, for instance, a new gun control group, called Gays Against Guns, has formed with the mission of becoming something of a perpetual thorn in the side of the NRA. The nation’s largest gay rights organization, the Human Rights Campaign, also recently adopted the fight for stricter gun control laws as part of its official policy platform.

Thanks in part to the activism by gay dads like Feinblatt, there is a palpable sense of hope in the air that sensible gun control legislation might not be so distant after all. It’s a feeling not so dissimilar to one many of us held, not so long ago, after the first few successes in the marriage equality movement, when the nation first started to realize that we as LGBTQ people will stop at nothing to protect our families.

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Change the World

After Suffering a Violent Homophobic Attack, This Gay Dad Turned to Advocacy

After Rene suffered a brutal homophobic attack that left him hospitalized, he and his family have turned to advocacy to heal

Guest post written by Rene and Nejc

We are Rene (35) and Nejc (29) and we come from Slovenia, Europe. I was an avid athlete, a Judoist, but now I am an LGBT activist and Nejc is a writer, who published a gay autobiography called Prepovedano. He was also a participant in a reality show in Slovenia (Bar) and he is an LGBT activist too. Nejc and I met by a mere coincidence on Facebook, and already after the first phone call we realized that we are made for each other. Nejc and I have been together as couple almost one year. We think we have been joined by some energy, as we have both experienced a lot of bad things with previous relationships and now we wish to create and shape our common path.

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Change the World

What Gay Dads Wish for Their Daughters on International Women's Day

We asked our dads of daughters what they most wished for their daughters as we all continue our work fighting against the inequality they will inevitably face

Today is International Women's Day. A day to celebrate and honor the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

Much like LGBTQ+ equality, gender equality has come leaps and bounds over the past 100 years, but a perfect egalitarian society still does not exist. We asked our dads of daughters what they most wished for their daughters as we all continue our work fighting against the inequality they will inevitably face. Here's what they had to say:

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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."

Gay Dad Family Stories

These Dads Had 'Twins' — Just Four Months Apart

Angel and Dan's wanted twins, without the complications of a twin pregnancy — so they worked with two separate surrogates at once.

If you have ever been out late on a Saturday night, you may have high hopes of meeting a handsome stranger, but you probably wouldn't expect to meet your future husband. Angel Mario Martinez Garcia, 45, surely didn't when, five years ago on a very early Saturday morning in Barcelona, he casually approached Dan's Mouquet, 40, and asked him, over many gin and tonics, what he wanted out of life. The nightlife setting notwithstanding, Dan's told Angel he ultimately wanted a quiet life, with a partner and children.

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Politics

Gestational Surrogacy Legalized in New York State

The Child-Parent Security Act, which legalizes commercial surrogacy in New York State, was included in the 2020 New York State Budget signed by Governor Cuomo

Yesterday, a years-long battle about the state of compensated gestational surrogacy came to an end in New York when the Governor signed into a law the Child-Parent Security Act in the 2020 as part of the state budget.

The effort stalled last year after opponents, including several Democrats, successfully argued that the bill didn't go far enough to protect women who serve as surrogates — even though it included a surrogate "bill of rights," the first of its kind in the country, aimed at ensuring protections.

"Millions of New Yorkers need assistance building their families — people struggling with infertility, cancer survivors impacted by treatment, and members of the LGBTQ+ community," the Family Equality Council said in a statement about the victory. "For many, surrogacy is a critically important option. For others, it is the only option. Passage of the Child-Parent Security Act is a massive step forward in providing paths to parenthood for New Yorkers who use reproductive technology, and creates a 'surrogate's bill of rights' that will set a new standard for protecting surrogates nationwide."

Opponents, led by Senator Liz Krueger, had once again attempted to torpedo legalization efforts this year by introducing a second bill that would legalize surrogacy in New York, but also make it the most restrictive state in the country to do so. "A bill that complicates the legal proceedings for the parents and potentially allows them to lose their genetic child is truly unfortunate," said Sam Hyde, President of Circle Surrogacy, referencing to the bill's 8-day waiting period. He also took issue with the bills underlying assumptions about why women decide to serve as a surrogate. The added restrictions imply that "they're entering into these arrangements without full forethought and consideration of the intended parents that they're partnering with," he said.

The bill was sponsored by State Senator Brad Hoylman, an out gay man who became a father via surrogacy, and Assemblymember Amy Paulin, who has been public with her experiences with infertility.

"My husband and I had our two daughters through surrogacy," Holyman told Gay City News. "But we had to travel 3,000 miles away to California in order to do it. As a gay dad, I'm thrilled parents like us and people struggling with infertility will finally have the chance to create their own families through surrogacy here in New York."

"This law will [give intended parents] the opportunity to have a family in New York and not travel around the country, incurring exorbitant costs simply because they want to be parents," Paulin said for her part. It will "bring New York law in line with the needs of modern families."


Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Just Like Dad: Ways My Kids and I Are Alike

Joseph Sadusky recounts the ways he and his adopted sons are cut from the same cloth.

Editor's Note: This is the third in a series of excerpts from Joseph Sadusky's new book, Magic Lessons: Celebratory and Cautionary Tales about Life as a (Single, Gay, Transracially Adoptive) Dad. The book contains many stories about my life as a dad, as well as lessons learned, and we're excited to share several excerpts from the the book over the course of the next few months. Read previous installments here!

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Expert Advice

4 Tips for Single Gay Dads Raising Daughters

Here are some ways to create a safe space for your daughter to discover who she is, with you by her side.

There's nothing quite like father-daughter relationships, and when it comes to single dads, your little girl likely holds a very special place in your heart. From the moment she's born, it's as if you can see every moment of her life in front of you, from her first steps to walking her down the aisle at her wedding. You'll be the first man she'll know and talk to, and you'll be her biggest example of what a loving man looks like. She'll come to you for advice on how to navigate challenges, be independent, treat others and grow into herself.

Your relationship with your daughter may be shaped by your personal history, whether you've been through a difficult divorce or breakup, you've transitioned out of a straight relationship, or you made the courageous decision to pursue surrogacy on your own. Whatever your situation is, studies have shown that children with involved fathers excel more in school and have fewer behavioral issues in adolescence.

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