Change the World

Gay Dads of Australia Say: It's Time for Marriage Equality

On September 12, the Australian public will be asked if they support marriage equality.

Why isn't same-sex marriage already legal in Australia?

The government has been stalling and the previous prime minister, Tony Abbott, had rejected calls to allow his MPs to vote on same-sex marriage, and instead proposed a plebiscite - a compulsory national vote. Abbott was removed from his party's leadership when Malcolm Turnbull, a supporter of gay marriage, led an internal coup and replaced him as prime minister.

But when Turnbull became the PM, he decided to stick with the plebiscite. Just last year, Turnbull's party was reelected, and the plebiscite is finally happening. Once they hear from the Australian people, the government will vote on the issue.

We're showing our support to all our families in Australia and raising our voices with them! And what better way to show that #LoveIsLove! than through the perspectives and photos of Australian gay families. We caught up with some dads to ask them what legalizing same-sex marriage in Australia would mean to them.

Dale and Paul with Alysia from Brisbane, Queensland, currently living in NYC

"Before our daughter came into our lives, marriage equality meant having the option to celebrate our love without difference and in the same way our friends and family could with their partners. Today we fight for equality so that our daughter's future can be free from discrimination and unnecessary hurt that comes from this ugly debate. Now and always we will stand by equality in every single way to pave the way to a kinder world for our children. Love is Love!" - Dale and Paul

Cohen and Murray with Charlee from Kiama, New South Wales

"[Marriage equality] would mean the world to us as it gives us legal security for our future as a family." - Cohen and Murray

Josh with his kids, Gold Coast

"My love is no different to yours. I want my kids to know that they can love whomever they choose no matter race, religion or gender. I will always be ready to support them and walk down the aisle. Vote YES and end this debate. #Loveislove." - Josh

David and Billy with Christian, South Australia

"The legalizing of same-sex marriage for our family means that our relationship would finally be treated equally in the eyes of the law. We would have the protection, security and certainty that if something were to happen (God forbid) to one of us, the other would be protected financially as well as our sons. This is also really important to pave the way for the future LGBTI generations to ensure they grow up in a country that is full of love and respect." - David and Billy

Andy and Simon with Adaline, Melbourne, Victoria

"It would mean the world to us. Firstly, for the simply joy of sharing our love and commitment with family and friends; but secondly to be recognised by the law and society in which we live - to have a world in which our family is no more or less than any other."

"Most of all, marriage equality is not just about us but the culture in which future LGBTI kids grow up. We know, first hand, that being "different" can be difficult and painful. However, kids who feel "different" at school don't have the same life experience as us to know that they'll be ok. Having same-sex marriage legalised would be a strong message to these kids that who they are is everything they need to be and that they are as good and as loved as everyone else. Life is for everyone." - Andy and Simon

Blue and Shaun with their kids, South Australia

"Australia has a duty to legitimize all love and acknowledge all families. Marriage equality will finally do this!" - Blue and Shaun

Holt and Simon with Olivia, Brisbane, Queensland

Legalizing same-sex marriage means we are another step forward in achieving equal rights just like every other Australian citizen. Holt and I may not feel a need to marry just right now, but if we do one day that should be OUR choice without any outdated law or debate or judgment." - Simon and Holt

Paul and Michael with Levi, Sydney, Australia

"It's so important for same-sex families like ours. It recognizes the fact that we've been married for 5 years (we were officially married in NYC) and that we can legitimately call each other husband without having to explain to our son that our country doesn't believe in our union. It will limit those who are against same-sex marriage from having a platform to disparage our family." - Michael and Paul

Mike and Colin with Jack and Maple, Sydney, New South Wales

"Australia is an amazingly beautiful country to live in. Legalizing same-sex marriage would allow the LGBTI community here to have the same basic human rights as everyone else and the option to love who you want to love. One day our family would be recognized as normal without negative bias or labels." - Colin and Mike

Drew and Joseph with their kids, Sydney, Australia

"Legalizing same-sex marriage would mean the world to us. Our children would love to be a part of our wedding, sharing in the whole experience that brings us closer together as a family. We lived in Canada for a couple of years, where same-sex marriage is a reality, and has been for over a decade. We got to meet a few legally married families who experienced what it's like to not have to worry about things that other people take for granted."

"We have spent thousands of dollars in legal fees ensuring that our family is protected in the case of one or either of us becoming incapacitated, giving each of us power of attorney and guardianship over one another. [That is] something we wouldn't have to consider if we were allowed to marry."

"For our children, it wouldn't change anything for them as they still see us as "Daddy" and "Da" and a piece of paper won't change that. It will however protect us all as a family, and that means the world to us." - Drew and Joseph

Answers edited for clarity.

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Gay Dad Life

Is Australian Olympic Swimmer Ian Thorpe Soon to Be a Dad?

Ian Thorpe recently announced he and his long-term partner Ryan Channing hope to become dads via surrogacy soon.

Ian Thorpe, a former Olympic swimmer for Australia, recently announced that he and his long-term partner Ryan Channing are planning to become dads via surrogacy sometime soon. Thorpe, a gold medalist who came out as gay after he retired from swimming, says he and his partner are looking for a surrogate in Los Angeles because the laws in Australia remain too restrictive.

"Becoming parents is something that Ian and myself would love to make happen,' Channing said in an interview. "Unfortunately the laws in Australia are difficult for same sex males in regards to surrogacy — California state law has really progressed in this space which makes it the best option legally."

Since retiring, Thorpe has been a vocal advocate for anti-bullying and gay marriage in Australia, and now looks to use his platform to advocate for less restrictive surrogacy laws for gay couples in the country.

Read more here.


Male Penguins at Australian Aquarium Given Foster Egg to Raise

Staff at the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium began to suspect that the penguins, Magic and Sphen, were bonding earlier this year when they started bowing to each other.

And now for your daily does of awwww.... Staff at a Sydney aquarium have provided two male gentoos penguins with a foster egg for the couple to rear.

Staff at the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium began to suspect that the penguins, Magic and Sphen, were bonding earlier this year.

"We'd go over there and Magic and Spehn would be bowing to each other," said Tish Hannan, one of the aquariums keepers, according to ABC. Tish added that bowing is a way for gentoo penguins to say they love each other, "which is super cute."

The penguins were first given a "dummy" egg so they could practice their parenting skills. "They immediately knew exactly what it was and started incubating it," Tish said.

Interestingly, gentoo penguins split parenting responsibilities equally between the sexes. "We're not going to need to step in just because they're males," she said.

Read the full ABC article here.

Change the World

Australian Politician Gives Impassioned Defense of Gay Men's Access to Altruistic Surrogacy

A new bill passed by the Western Australian Legislative Assembly aims to make it legal for gay men and couples to use "altruistic" surrogacy to start their families.

This month, the Western Australian Legislative Assembly passed a bill to allow single men and gay couples to access "altruistic surrogacy" to start their families. Previously, only single women, lesbian couples and heterosexual couples were allowed to pursue surrogacy arrangements. (Read more about different types of surrogacy arrangements.)

The legislation passed after a long and at times heated debate, during which John Carey, one of three out gay members of the parliament, made an impassioned defense of gay men's ability to access altruistic surrogacy as a means to start their families.

"I came into politics to believe in the best of people, to appeal to the best our our humanity, to show greater kindness, to understand that despite our differences there is much that brings us together," Carey said at the beginning of the debate, according to Out in Perth, which reported on the proceedings. "This is why I proudly stand here today as a member of parliament, and to support progressive change, to support that humanity in our community.

Carey stressed that children being raised by LGBTQ people, "are loved. They are respected. They are supported in their aspirations and their dreams. They go to school, they visit school, they to to playgroups and they mix with they peers, and they are all raised by same-sex parents, and many of them male couples."

Allowing gay men to access altruistic surrogacy was a substantive win for the local LGBTQ community, which also recently saw gay marriage legalized. But it is also, as Carey noted in his speech, a symbolic one. "Every bit of reform which tackles discrimination, which removes those barriers is critically important," he said. "It's not just for those same-sex couples who want to have a child, but also for all those young generations who will see another part of discrimination dismantled from our legislation."

Read Carey's full defense of the bill, which will next be read and debated in the Legislative Council, here.

Diary of a Newly Out Gay Dad

A Gay Chiropractor Explains Why He Came Out to His Patients

After Cameron Call, a chiropractor, came out to his family this past year, he knew he had one more step to take — he had to come out to his patients

Fear is an interesting thing. It motivates when it shouldn't, shows at inconvenient times, and is the author of stories that do nothing but hold us back. I would argue though, too, that fear has some good qualities. I believe it helps us to feel. And I think it can be a great teacher as we learn to recognize and face it.

For years fear prevented me from embracing my truth and accepting a large part of who I am. I know I am not alone in that regard. But for so long my fear convinced me that I was. Fear is what kept me from ever telling my parents or anyone growing up that I am gay. Fear mingled with strong religious teachings, embraced at a young age, which led me to believe that I could cure myself of my attractions to the same gender. And fear is a part of what kept me in my marriage to a woman for over ten years.

Keep reading...
Personal Essays by Gay Dads

A Gay Dad Gains Clarity After a Health Scare

A recent health scare helped give Erik Alexander clarity.

Sometimes fear can cripple the mind and hinder ones judgement. Having children of my own, I have come to grips with accepting the things I cannot change and learned to take action when there is no other choice. When it comes to my own personal health, the future and well being of my family gives me all the clarity I need to make the right decision about any kind of health scare.

This episode is dedicated to all the parents out there that are going through or have gone through similar situations.

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Gay Dad Family Stories

This European Couple Became Dads Through a U.K.-Based Surrogacy Program

Janno, from Estonia, and Matthias, from Belgium, were accepted into the "Childlessness Overcome Through Surrogacy" Program.

Janno Talu, an accountant, and Matthias Nijs, an art gallery director, were born in different parts of Europe. Janno, 39, is from Estonia, and Matthias, 28, is from Belgium. Their paths crossed when the two moved to London, each from their different corners of the European Union.

Janno relocated to London earlier than Matthias, when he was 24, and his main reason for the move was his sexuality. "Although Estonia is considered one of the more progressive countries in Eastern Europe, when it comes to gay rights, it is still decades behind Western society in terms of tolerance," said Janno. "And things are not moving in the right direction." In 2016, same-sex civil union became legal, but the junior party in the current coalition government is seeking to repeal the same-sex partnership bill. "In addition," Janno continued, "they wish to include the definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman in the country's constitution. Even today, there are people in Estonia who liken homosexuality to pedophilia, which is why I decided to start a new life in the UK, where I could finally be myself."

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Surrogacy for Gay Men

Interested in Surrogacy? Check Out These Bay Area Events This Weekend

If you're in the Bay Area this weekend, two major events are happening that will be of interest for dads-to-be and surrogacy advocates: the Men Having Babies San Francisco Conference, and the SF Advocacy and Research Forum for Surrogacy and LGBT Parenting (ARF)

If you're in San Francisco or the surrounding area, clear your calendar this weekend. Two events are happening simultaneously that are significant for dads-to-be AND surrogacy advocates: the Men Having Babies San Francisco Conference, and the SF Advocacy and Research Forum for Surrogacy and LGBT Parenting (ARF). For an outlines of both events, check out below.

Keep reading...

Fatherhood, the gay way

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